Today has been a strange day, first I wake up to a strange orange glow only to look out the window and see a scene from Total Recall as a dust storm engulfed Sydney (pics here) and then I check out my daily feeds only to see one of the weirdest pieces of news ever from MusicRadar.com. The post was entitled “When is a Strat not a Strat“, I was intrigued until I looked at closer at the image presented before me. At first glance I thought I was looking at Fender Stratocaster, then I noticed the pointy reverse headstock and realised, no, this is not a Fender. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against pointy headstocks, I own an Ibanez and have a Suhr on order but it was immediately obvious that this was a Strat copy rather than a genuine Stratocaster. Anyway then I noticed the slanty back and the purple sticker and flash of purple across the headstock and then the penny dropped.
I’ve been deliberating about blogging this news all day because quite honestly I was lost for words when I saw the “Gibson Hendrix Authentic Electric Guitar”, not that I have any issue with Gibson releasing a Jimi Hendrix guitar, they have every right to after all Jimi played an SG, Les Paul & Flying V however Jimi was famous for playing Fender Stratocasters, not exclusively, there was no signature deal with Fender but the Strat obviously felt very comfortable for him. Jimi was apparently leaning more toward Gibson’s before he died, I read he preferred the thicker tone of SG’s and Les Pauls.
The problem is that Gibson have decided to abandon their reputation in exchange for a cheap marketing ploy by the Hendrix Estate (Janie Hendrix in particular) and create a Strat copy, yes Gibson, the company who sued PRS for creating a Singlecut design too close to a Les Paul! The worst thing about this guitar is that it comes as a cheap guitar package with an amp and fuzz pedal for $400, it might as well have Miley Cyrus’ face painted on it. I feel that this is somewhat disrespectful to the greatest guitarist that ever lived and sacrilege that this Disney Hendrix guitar package has even been allowed to go on sale, let alone from someone as highly regarded as Gibson. The backlash from this announcement is already apparent with threads popping up on many forums already with 99% of guitarists expressing their disapproval. Gibson have already removed an article containing photos from the factory of the Hendrix guitar in production from their Lifestyle section, when I checked it this morning there were already 20 or so negative comments, add these to the hundreds of forum posts about this announcement and I think you have a problem which Gibson really can’t afford to ignore, I wonder what their next move will be?
UPDATE: Musicradar.com have published an interview with Janie Hendrix regarding this announcement. While I think it is great that they are creating instruments that are affordable for the next generation of Voodoo children, stomping over Fender to do it is not the right decision in my opinion.