INTERVIEW: Roger Mayer on Jimi Hendrix

L-R: Roger Mayer, Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding

The boutique pedal boom of today could very well be traced back to one man: Roger Mayer. Mayer was building unique pedals for players like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix back when those venerable players were shaping the future of the guitar. Once upon a time his pedals were the exclusive domain of a select few. Now, though, Mayer’s pedals are readily available, and they build on the legacy and sound of his classic work, updating them for the future while still paying tribute to the past.

How did you meet Jimi Hendrix?

I met Jimi a few days after my 21st birthday at a club called the Bag of Nails in London. He was playing there and I went to him after the performance, introduced myself and said ‘I’ve got this new sound you might be interested in.’ I also told him I’d been working with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck over the years and produced some very different fuzz boxes. Jimi was very interested and invited me to come down in a few weeks to a gig at the Chiselhurst Caves where he was performing, and that’s where I first showed him a prototype of the Octavia, which was the new sound. Jimi tried it out in the dressing room and was very interested in the new sound. He also mentioned he was going to be making a new single. He invited me down to another gig in about a week’s time, and he said that after the gig we were gonna go back to Olympic Studios. So that all happened and after the gig we went back to Olympic Studios and that’s when we recorded the solos to Purple Haze and Fire. After that we became close friends and started hanging out, and as they say, the rest is history!

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NEWS: Gibson releases Jimi Hendrix signature gear

UPDATE: This project was shelved. This post is being left intact for archival purposes
Gibson are releasing a Jimi Hendrix signature guitar. No, not their Jimi Hendrix Flying V… THIS:

Check out Music Radar’s thoughts on the matter here: http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/blog-when-is-a-strat-not-a-strat-220867?cpn=RSS&source=MRNEWS

So how do I feel about this? Um… well… um…

 

No sir, I don’t like it.

I think it’s great that the various packages are reasonably priced, but I just find it a strange fit. I just don’t want to see Gibson making this type of guitar. But it’s not Gibson’s involvement that bothers me – I think they have every right to do something like this, and if a similar package was offered by Gibson based on Jimi’s Flying V I’d be ecstatic. But ditto for Fender if they were offering such a package with a Strat. No, my beef is with the Hendrix estate. Guys, this isn’t the way to pay tribute to Jimi’s legacy. Just as a guitar purist, it bugs me is that the shape isn’t right (although it’s cool in its own way and I like the headstock), and while the guitar may be designed to capture the spirit of Jimi, the Stratocaster already did that quite fine. When you design a posthumous signature guitar that the artist never played, you walk a very fine line with fans. If this is just the tip of the iceberg as stated in the press release, then I hope the next release is that Flying V, which would truly be ‘authentic Hendrix.’

Here’s the press release:

Authentic Hendrix LLC, a Jimi Hendrix Family Company, announced today the introduction of three branded Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Packages as part of an exclusive agreement between the Gibson Guitar Corp. and Authentic Hendrix properties.

Specifically chosen for its innovation, quality and global impact, Authentic Hendrix LLC began conversations with the Gibson Guitar Corp. in 2008 to develop guitar packages that would serve as a tribute to the musician who many have called the world’s greatest guitarist of all time. The effort is also part of preserving his legacy so that generations to come could develop and appreciate his techniques and musicianship. Each guitar will have the Jimi Hendrix signature and logo on it and will come with special added value components only offered with the specific package.

Gibson Guitar and Authentic Hendrix LLC announced the launch of three exclusive Jimi Hendrix electric guitar packages.

The Jimi Hendrix “Experience” Electric Guitar Package is the ultimate tribute to the greatest guitarist who ever lived. The company has combed over historical details and taken the best from more than 100 years of guitar making so that every guitarist – from the beginner to the seasoned player – can find his or her inner Hendrix with this package. The “Experience” package will come with an official “Jimi Hendrix signature electric guitar” and all the necessary accessories and some fun extras including a Jimi Hendrix Signature “Voodoo Child” amplifier, a Foxey Fuzz pedal, a deluxe padded gig bag, an instructional DVD, an electronic tuner, two guitar cables, a Hendrix inspired strap, three picks and a USB drive containing exclusive Hendrix media content. In addition consumers will receive a Hendrix inspired tie-dyed tee-shirt and bandana. True to its name, this guitar package will give the music enthusiast the ultimate Hendrix experience. MSRP $449.99 USD.

Jimi Hendrix “Signature” Electric Guitar Package: It’s been almost 40 years since Jimi Hendrix’s death but he has continued to assert his tremendous legacy with the six strings of his guitar. In recordings and film footage, his mesmerizing showmanship lives on. In a fitting tribute to the man who famously played right-handed guitars upside down, Gibson and Authentic Hendrix have announced the Jimi Hendrix Signature Electric Guitar Package.

Designed in close collaboration with Janie Hendrix and Gibson engineers. The package inherited the best features from Jimi’s original equipment so that Hendrix fans the world over can enjoy a deluxe guitar package the way Jimi would have liked it. This package comes with a “Jimi Hendrix signature electric guitar and all the necessary accessories, a Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child amplifier, a deluxe padded gig bag, an instructional DVD, an electronic tuner, a guitar cable, a Hendrix inspired strap, three picks and a USB drive. MSRP $332.99 USD.

he third offering from this exclusive partnership is the Jimi by Jimi Hendrix “Little Wing” Electric Guitar Package which Gibson engineers and Authentic Hendrix LLC designed with one question in mind: “What if the world’s greatest guitarist was still alive today, what guitar would he want to play?” Combining the historical authenticity and more than 100 years of precision guitar making the launch of the Jimi “Little Wing” electric guitar package has been launched.

This “Jimi” guitar package is equipped with three Voodoo Child Inspired by Jimi Hendrix pickups and comes with the new 10-watt “Max Feedback” amplifier so that the musician is all set to recreate Hendrix’s unearthly playing style. The package also comes with an instructional DVD, which includes detailed lessons and a walk through of the components of the entire guitar package. In addition consumers will receive a deluxe padded gig bag, a 10 foot guitar cable, a nylong strap with the Authentic Hendrix logo on it and three Authentic Hendrix guitar picks. MSRP $249.99 USD.

“Creating this new guitar is continuing Jimi’s practice of giving back to people. He would go to Manny’s Music store in New York to make himself available to young musicians and invite them to his studio to watch him record. He also gave away guitars or bought them for young players,” said Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s sister and CEO of Authentic Hendrix.

“It was our own idea to approach Gibson in the beginning after the positive experiences we’d had with the Flying V’s that they made based on Jimi’s guitar some years back. Our excitement inspired their excitement, and here we are, creating these new branded musical instruments. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”


GUEST POST: Joe Matera interviews Jim Marshall

In a rare and candid interview from 2001, the man behind the legendary amplifier talks to Joe Matera about the Marshall legacy.

“I really like my old Marshall tube amps, because when they’re working properly i.e. when the volume is turned up all the way, there’s nothing can beat them, nothing in the whole world. It looks like two refrigerators hooked together……..”
James Marshall Hendrix – Los Angeles, 1967

Joe Matera: So how did a drummer end up developing a classic guitar amplifier?

Jim Marshall: Well, I’d started in show business as a singer. I’ve been in show business for 64 years, singing for 64 years but drumming for about 58 years. I started drumming afterwards you see. It’s just something that progressed over the years from showbusiness to teaching. I taught many of the top drummers like Mitch Mitchell with Hendrix, Micky Waller with Rod Stewart…many of the top drummers, I’ve taught during the 50’s and then decided to open a drum shop. But that went wrong because Pete Townsend and Ritchie Blackmore and one or two others got onto me and said “why don’t you stock amplifiers and guitars?”. I said “well, I know a lot about drums but not much about guitars”. They told me if I would stock them, they’ll buy them from me instead of going to the West End of London because they were treated there in London like idiots. The rock and rollers used to use the Fender Bassman. That was the nearest thing to the sort of sound they wanted. Later on in 1961 they said to me “well, the amplifier’s (Fender Bassman) not built to give us the correct sound”. So I got together with a young electronics engineer, he was only 18, but he was brilliant and after 6 proto-types we produced the first rock and roll amplifier and its been that sound ever since. That’s how I got into it and I actually only wanted to do it for my own shop and my own customers but it grew and grew and grew until it’s where we are now. We put roughly 4,500 units a week, amplifiers and cabinets, into the world market.

JM: In many magazines over the years, Pete Townsend has always been credited with developing the idea for the Marshall “stack”. Is this true?

Jim Marshall: No! Unfortunately, a lot of magazines write what they think readers want to read. What really happened was this. Pete came to me and said, “the 50 Watt amp I’m using is not loud enough for me, I want a 100 Watt”. He added, “but instead of a 4X12 cabinet, I want an 8X12 cabinet”. I said “well what sort of cabinet do you want?”. He said ‘a great big square one!” and I replied “that’s going to look stupid with a little amplifier on top, but leave it with me”. I said “what I think you need is the first 4X12 I designed, which was a straight fronted one and the second one to make the amp and cabinet look as if it was designed like that, cause that’s why I put the angle on. We’ll make that a stack”. Pete replied “No, I don’t want two cabinets…put them all in one cabinet!” I thought alright it’ll still be the image of the stack, but it’ll be in one cabinet. Well, I was very strong in those days and I had an athlete working for me on the cabinet side and we carried these cabinets out of the factory in Hayes, Middlesex and they were so heavy it was unbelievable and I said to Pete, “your roadies going to kick my ass!” and he said “they get paid!”. Well, two weeks later he came back and said “your right Jim. I tried to help one of the roadies top put one of these cabinets into the truck and IT was heavy!. Have them back and cut them in half”. I said well if I cut them in half they’ll fall to pieces. So leave it to me to go back to what I suggested in the first place to make it a stack”. And that’s the way it came about. It was him that wanted 8X12’s because of the 100 Watt heads, they were the first three 100 Watt heads we ever made…and he had them. Of course the 100Watt was no good in those days with one 4X12, because the speakers in those days were only capable of taking 25 Watts, unlike speakers today that can take 300, 400 Watts. Thats the way the stack really came about.

JM: You had so many of the early classic British bands actually form in your shop. Every one from Hendrix’s band to Deep Purple.

Jim Marshall: Mitch Mitchell, who was a child actor actually, came to me in the first place to ask me if he could have the job in the shop as the Saturday boy. Then he wanted me to teach him drums. Then Ritchie Blackmore was playing with one of my other pupils in a school group and they all came together in my shop. You see, all the guitarists that came in to see me were those playing with my pupils. I was the first drum teacher over here (England) to teach them rock and roll. And Micky Waller was the first one to get me to teach them, because he said to me “can you teach me to play this new stuff called rock and roll?” And I said “its only even quavers, basically its Latin American, so its quite easy and I’ll teach you”. Because the accents are in different places that’s all it is to it, and because I taught the drummers, the guitarists came in and it was like a labour exchange and thats where a lot of the early groups were formed, in my shop in London.

JM: In 1981, you introduced the JCM800 series.

Jim Marshall: There’s another story to go with that too, the true story! I’d just finished a 15 year contract with a company called Rose-Morris and unfortunately being a pro musician, I thought to sign a 15 year contract with regular money coming in was the next best thing since sliced bread….and I was wrong! After about 3 or 4 months I realized I could outsell this company any day of the week and during that 15 year contract they never ever reached a million pounds turnover in a year!. So in 1981 I’d already done re-designing the appearance of some of the things and I was stuck to know what to call it and for weeks I was thinking how can I put this over. Then one day, I walked out to the car park, and looked at my number plate: JCM 800. That was perfect for the 80’s wasn’t it, so that’s how it (the series name) came about. I had bought that number plate way back in 1972, so it was very lucky I’d bought that number plate then.

JM: You were also contracted to do the VoxAC30 re-issues?

Jim Marshall: Yes, because that had gone through 7 different companies earlier who tried to make the AC30’s and 15’s and none of them established the real sound. And although I did not want to do the Vox AC30 and 15, it was a challenge to me because I knew if anybody could do it, we could re-create the original Vox sound which we’ve done. Everybody else gradually before us got worse until Rose-Morris did it and that was a disaster!

JM: What’s the secret to the enduring success of Marshall amps?

Jim Marshall: Well it’s having a good design team as I have now, probably the best in the world and sticking to the original sound. The original sound MUST be in the unit somewhere. Although with the Marshall amps these days, you know, you can choose what sound you like out of it, it can be country and western, jazz, rock and roll etc.

JM: What is the company’s direction for the next few years?

Jim Marshall: Exactly what we’re always tried to do, you know, it’s to produce the best in the world and keep the established Marshall sound going through because that’s what all the rock and rollers and heavy metal youngsters want. But to try and please all musicians too, that’s all we want to do and to keep the quality as it is now…the best.

JM: What has been the highlight of your career?

Jim Marshall: Well I suppose it was the first time I saw Marshall on television.

JM: You would have many stories to tell. Which one in particular is your favorite?

Jim Marshall: I suppose the best one is of course, in regards to my greatest ambassador and that was Jimi Hendrix. He was playing at Ronnie Scott’s in London and Mitch (Mitchell) was on drums with him, but the group that was playing there at the time were all using Marshall and he said “I’ve got to meet this Jim Marshall because my name is James Marshall as well”. So Mitch brought him into my shop and Jimi said to me, “I’ve got to have Marshall amplification”. And I thought, “Christ!, another American wanting something for nothing!”. But fortunately he said ” I don’t want anything given to me. I want to pay the full retail price but what I do want is service wherever I am in the world”. I thought, “Christ, that’s going to be a tough one” because we were only dealing with France, Germany and Canada at the time. They were the only places I had distribution, but his roadie at the time, came and spent two weeks in the factory learning how to change the bias and change the tubes or valves if they went down and do simple soldering. And we were never called out once by Jimi Hendrix. He actually purchased 4 complete stage set-ups to have in different places in the world so he would not have to transport any too far. And that’s one of the best stories of the company.

Links:
www.joematera.com/
www.geishatheband.com/
www.twitter.com/joematera
www.myspace.com/rockjourno

CLICK HERE to see Marshall amps on eBay
Marshall JCM800 2203 Vintage Series 100W Tube Head
Marshall Haze MHZ40C 40W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp Black
Marshall Haze MHZ15 15W Tube Guitar Amp Head Black

NEWS: Jimi Hendrix Fan Pack – Live 1967/68 Paris/Ottawa

Man, sometimes I wake up to the coolest emails…

Jimi Hendrix Fan Pack – Live 1967/68 Paris/Ottawa

Includes:
-Official Dagger Records bootleg CD not sold in stores: The Jimi Hendrix Experience Live 1968 Paris/Ottawa -Woodstock t-shirt; Poster
-Classic concert postcard set
-Button set
-iPod Skin
-PikCARD
-All Access Pass that unlocks special online Hendrix content – AUDIO INCLUDES RARE LIVE PERFORMANCES OF Purple Haze, Little Wing and more!

Track listing

Disc: 1
1. Killing Floor [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
2. Catfish Blues [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
3. Foxey Lady [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
4. Red House [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
5. Drivin’ South [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
6. Wind Cries Mary [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
7. Fire [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
8. Little Wing [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
9. Purple Haze [Live in Paris 1/29/68]
10. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Live in Ottawa 3/17/68]
11. Fire [Live in Ottawa 3/17/68]
12. Purple Haze [Live in Ottawa 3/17/68]

Disc: 2
1. Stone Free [Live in Paris 10/3/67]
2. Hey Joe [Live in Paris 10/3/67]
3. Fire [Live in Paris 10/3/67]
4. Rock Me [Live in Paris 10/3/67]
5. Red House [Live in Paris 10/3/67]
6. Purple Haze [Live in Paris 10/3/67]
7. Wild Thing [Live in Paris 10/3/67]

REVIEW: Jim Dunlop JH-1B Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah Wah

Another in Jim Dunlop’s expanding range of signature wah wah pedals, the JH-1B Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah Wah takes the place of the company’s previous Jimi Hendrix model, which debuted in the 90s and was used extensively by Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains (as well as Frankie, the rhythm guitarist in my first band, and maaaaan was I jealous). The new version is much more faithful to the original style of wah wah pedal Hendrix used.

CLICK HERE to see wah wah pedals on eBay.

Although he changed his gear regularly, one of Jimi’s mainstays was a pedal designed by the Thomas Organ Company and manufactured by JEN in Italy. While the previous Jimi model was visually reminiscent of the standard GCB-95 model Crybaby, the new version has a chrome pedal and a thick and hardy black crinkle finish which visually align it with its ancestors. It feels very heavy and study compared to my old and battered 90s GCB-95.

Battery access is through a compartment in the bottom of the pedal, which is a nice touch compared to the old “unscrew the pedal’s feet with your fingers” battery access method of some other versions over the years. You can also use a 9 volt power supply, which is not provided.

Like the previous Jimi Hendrix model, this one has a lower frequency range than a standard Crybaby. The low pass range is 290Hz – 310Hz, and the high pass range is 1400Hz –1510Hz. The overall effect is a general darkness compared to what we normally think of as a standard wah tone. This is especially good for Strat players like Jimi who want the funky quack of a wah wah pedal but need to keep the high end from becoming too shrill when using the already treble-accentuating bridge pickup. Rumour has it that Jimi achieved this sound by simply taking his wah apart and moving the potentiometer with his fingers so it wouldn’t be able to travel to the top of its range. The new Signature Wah takes the unpredictability of this method out of the equation.

The sound of this wah is instantly recognizable. With single coils and low gain levels on my 50 watt Marshall head it totally nails the “Voodoo Child” sound. The tone is resonant without being too coloured by overtones, and there is a lot of subtletly within the wah’s range. It works best for the cleaner end of the spectrum, losing some of its identity at mega gain levels.

This is a very cool pedal and while it’s limited in the sense that it doesn’t have several modes and extra bells and whistles to allow personalized tone shaping, it gets back to the heart of what wah wah pedals are all about.

CLICK HERE to buy the Dunlop JH-1B Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah Pedal Standard from Music123 for $129.99.

NEWS: New Monte Montgomery CD

Next week I’ll post my review of Monte Montgomery’s new, self-titled album.
Montgomery was named by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the ‘Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitar Players’ and he’s an absolute monster of the guitar. A little while ago Guitar Player ran a feature on him, and they looked at his technique, approach, and guitar in great depth.
Monte Montgomery’s music is acoustic-based, and he wrings some amazing sounds out of his Alvarez MMY-1 Monte Montgomery signature guitar. I haven’t seen an acoustic guitar so lovingly beaten up since the last time Tommy Emmanuel came to town.

CLICK HERE to buy Monte Montgomery’s new self-titled CD from Amazon.com

Here are a few teasers.

Monte’s ‘Could’ve Loved You Better’ from the recording sessions for the new album:

A cover of Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing.’

NEWS: Shindig magazine

A few months ago, Mrs I Heart Guitar stumbled across a magazine called Shindig, which promotes itself with the tagline ‘Psych, garage, beat, powerpop, soul, folk …for people who want more!

Of particular interest to guitar geeks such as myself is the heavy emphasis on 60s psychedelia. When I was a little’un, my dad had a double cassette compliation called ‘Songs Of A Psychedelic Age,’ and it was that tape which turned me onto Cream and Jimi Hendrix.

Shindig goes pretty deep into the psychedelic scene (including a recent feature on freaky 60s psychedelic movies like Beyond The Valley of the Dolls), as well as later psychedelia-inspired bands such as the XTC side project, Dukes of Stratosphear. The current issue delves into the psycedelic folk of Marc Bolan and Tyrannosaurus Rex.