During his career Jimi used many effects both in the studio and in live performance. For example, Jimi used many fuzz box units among which were the Arbiter Fuzz Face, the ‘Axis’ fuzz , and the Mosrite Fuzzrite.
Another effect that Jimi used and has since become synonymous with his name was the Vox wah-wah pedal. Jimi employed this effect on many of his studio recordings such as “Voodoo Chile (slight return),” and “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.”
A third type of effect that Jimi used in the studio was a Leslie Speaker cabinet. This effect created the swirling sounds heard on studio tracks such as “Little Wing” and “House Burning Down.”
The Uni-Vibe was yet another effect used by Jimi predominantly in live performance. This created a swirling effect quite similar to the Leslie Speaker cabinet, although it differed in that it had a speed control, unlike the Leslie cabinet. This meant that the swirling effect could be sped up or slowed down. This effect was employed on tracks such as “Hey Baby (The Land of the New Rising Sun),” “Earth Blues,” and “Machine Gun.”
A fourth effect Jimi used was the Octavia. This device, as noted by “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy,” “gives the effect of a multiple mirror image of the actual sound,” but phased inverted. So really it produces a sound that absolutely multiplies all the harmonics up, almost to infinity, so you get an extremely high tone out of it.” The Octavia made it first appearance on “Purple Haze.”
Finally, there is undoubtedly a plethora of other effects that Jimi used in the studio other than just the ones that were mentioned above but to name and detail all of them would take far too much time. The only thing left to be said is that Jimi Hendrix was enormously gifted and was one of the most brilliant musicians that has ever lived.
Most of the information on this page came from the book “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy,” by Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek.
The Vox wah became an integral part of Hendrix’s setup and he kept many Vox wah pedals in his collection of gear. According to Michael Fairchild, one of the earliest photos showing Hendrix using a wah pedal dates from a gig on August 15, 1967 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Almost all photos taken after that time show him using a Vox wah pedal, which at the time, was manufactured by Jennings Musical Industries Ltd. of Kent, England.
This particular Vox wah pedal was used by Hendrix during his Band Of Gypsys period in 1969-1970. In 1970, it was traded to Stuyvesant Music, a New York City music shop (now long out of business), along with a burned Stratocaster. The guitar and pedal were exchanged for another instrument. As a fan of Hendrix and a budding young guitar player himself, the owner’s son kept this pedal and it still remains in his personal collection. The bottom of the pedal is marked “J.H. EXP” in black marker, written across a strip of red electrical tape. This was a common ID used to mark much of the personal stage gear belonging to members of the Experience.
Several photos taken by photographer Joe Sia at a gig on December 31, 1969 clearly show Hendrix’s chain of effects and the order of setup for that particular show. His setup would sometimes vary and it is believed that the type of Fuzz Face pedal he was using (as described above) had a lot to do with where it was placed in the effects chain. Sia’s photo shows the Vox wah as the first pedal in line from his guitar. The wah was connected to the Octavia prototype pedal (marked “Octavio”), then linked into the Fuzz Face, followed by the Uni-Vibe, and finally plugged into a Marshall amplifier and matching 4×12 cabinets. (Due to technical difficulties I had to replace the original photo. This was the best I have been able to find. You can still see Jimi’s chain of effects and amps but I’m not sure if it is in the order as described.)