Is this the Fender Stratocaster Jimi bought at Manny’s Music on Bastille Day of 1970? (Updated: It’s a Fender Jazzmaster.)
From the 1950s until quite recently, the block between between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue on 48th Street was known as “Music Row” because of the many music shops clustered there. But it is no more. In 2012 Sam Ash moved its main headquarters downtown to 34th St, but three years earlier, an even more shocking blow occurred when Manny’s Music closed its doors for good.
One of Manny’s most famous customers was Jimi Hendrix, who visited the store at least three times (or had someone visit on his behalf—two of the receipts feature other signatories as the recipient), each time dropping a gargantuan wad of cash for some high-end musical gear, according to receipts put up for auction at various auction houses over the years. (Technically, all three of the receipts are marked “CHARGE.”)
On September 16, 1969, Hendrix spent $484.42 on a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier as well as a ratchet, two pairs of mallets and bass strings (Christie’s). (That’s more than $3,000 today.)
Two months later, on November 7, 1969, came Hendrix’s most extensive purchase, of the ones we’re documenting here. He purchased a Condor GSM Innovex guitar synthesizer, an Epiphone Casino, a Gibson Les Paul, an “Echoplex pedal,” and some assorted strings and cords (Heritage Auctions). That bill ran to $1,756.30 (more than $11,000 today).
The most interesting item on any of these receipts—by far—is that Condor Innovex synthesizer, pictured here:
The Condor GSM Innovex was one of the first guitar synthesizers ever put on the market, and Jimi bought the item, perfect for generating CRAZY guitar sounds, about as soon as it was made available. Synthesizers had been around since the early 1960s and had already brought about significant changes in jazz and rock and even “classical” music. Guitar synths were just arriving on the market, and Jimi’s purchase here shows his restless interest in broadening the musical palette of the guitar. True to Jimi’s ever-experimenting nature, it’s quite a bit ahead of its time.
On July 14, 1970, Hendrix purchased a Fender Stratocaster for $275.60 (Julien’s Live; more than $1,600 today).
Here is that Fender Strat:
Here’s a great clip of the Hammond Innovex Condor GSM Guitar Synthesizer in action: