No guitar represents a greater convergence of artist, event and instrument than this 1968 Fender Stratocaster played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.
Taken alone, the instrument is rather unremarkable. For starters, it was made during CBS’s ownership of Fender, a period of declining quality. It’s a stock right-handed Stratocaster with an Olympic White finish. Although the maple fingerboard appears to be integral with the neck, as it was on 1950s Fenders, it is actually separate; the giveaway is on the back of the neck, where there is no evidence of the walnut “skunk stripe” that is present on all Fender one-piece necks.
Hendrix played left-handed, but rather than special-ordering a lefty, he simply flipped the guitar over and reversed the strings, so that the heavier bass strings would be on what is normally the treble side.
Although the Strat had some degree of notoriety in rock and roll music, thanks to Buddy Holly and the surf bands, it was overshadowed in the Fender line in the early-to-mid 1960s by the more expensive Jazzmaster. The film Woodstock featured Hendrix’s screaming, pyrotechnic version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which set the course for the future of rock guitar and instantly raised the Stratocaster to the iconic status that it enjoys today.