Fender is marking the 50th anniversary of Woodstock by releasing limited-edition replicas of Jimi Hendrix's "Izabella" Stratocaster, the iconic white guitar Hendrix used to play his famously mind-bending version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
During his epic performance on August 18, 1969, Hendrix's Strat erupted with extreme distortion and squelching feedback that often seemed to simulate the sounds of exploding bombs and artillery fire, causing some fans to interpret the boldly reimagined version as an anti-Vietnam War anthem. ("I thought it was beautiful," Hendrix later explained on The Dick Cavett Show while responding to critics.)
Hendrix's scorching solo has served as a cultural touchstone ever since, and Fender's customs division is now memorializing that hallowed guitar with 250 replicas aimed squarely at collectors.
"To me, the Izabella Stratocaster represents a snapshot in time. Jimi’s performance at Woodstock, and the closing of a decade that both musically and culturally changed the world forever," Mike Lewis, V.P. of Product Development at Fender Custom Shop, tells Maxim.com.
"We’ve done many replicas of iconic guitars in our history, and it’s different each time, because the original guitar we want to replicate may or may not be available for us to look at in person."
"In the case of the Izabella Stratocaster, we had the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the original guitar and document every nuance a number of years ago. It was kind of a forensic examination, so to speak. Fast forward to a few years ago when this project came to life, we were ready, and our artisans got to work creating a prototype. They kept at it until they were satisfied."
Hendrix was always a longtime fan of Strats, but the Izabella he played onstage at Woodstock is by far his most noteworthy instrument. The 1968 Olympic White Stratocaster was originally purchased at Manny’s Music on West 48th Street in New York City. It had an alder body, a two-piece maple neck, a truss rod adjustment, a Bob Perine-designed Fender logo and arced “Stratocaster” type. The “F style” neck plate had the serial number 240981, which, along with the pickups and hardware, were standard 1968 issue.
The Izabella was the last guitar Hendrix played with the original Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the final guitar he ever played in concert. In a bid to approximate the original guitar's signature tone, the replica has a 6-saddle American Vintage synchronized tremolo; three custom hand-wound ’69 single coil Strat pickups in the bridge, middle and neck; and a three-position blade with controls for master volume, Tone 1 (neck pickup) and Tone 2 (middle pickup).
The Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster is also tricked out with a three-ply parchment pickguard, flat sawn maple`60s C-shaped neck with a maple fingerboard, 21 vintage-style frets and a nickel-plated steel .010-.046 gauge strings. It comes with a deluxe hardshell case, custom strap, custom headband, coiled cable, commemorative booklet and a Certificate of Authenticity.
Each of the 250 replicas are priced at $6,900, but expect guitar collectors to snap them up soon. For more information, visit www.fender.com.