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Pieces of History: The Harmonic Hendrix Home Guitars

Jan 31, 2018
As guitarists, we’re all connected by our appreciation for the greats - their music, their instruments, their style… and even their homes.

As guitarists, we’re all connected by our appreciation for the greats - their music, their instruments, their style… and even their homes.

Infamous Rock n’ Roll guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix, was born in Seattle in the early 1940s and lived there for most of his childhood. The Hendrix bungalow at 2603 - 26 Avenue in Seattle's Central District is the last place where Leon and Jimi lived with both their parents. 

Seattle-House-Jimi-Hendrix-Graph-Tech-Hendrix-Home-GuitarsPhoto Credit: CBC News

Eventually, after several re-locations and attempts for preservation, the house was torn down because it hadn’t been owned or maintained by the family for years. 

Reuben Forsland of JOI Guitars, a luthier hailing from the shores of Vancouver Island, heard that pieces of the home had actually been stored somewhere and embarked on a quest to discover where they were being kept. Tracing the history of the broken down 1920s home was no easy task, however. Forsland had to source his Seattle network to find out where the wood was being kept.

After much investigation, he found the old wood sitting in a storage locker in a small community near Seattle. The last homeowner even had the legal documentation for the home, as well as many photographs of Hendrix in front of the bungalow.

Reclaimed-Wood-Jimi-Hendrix-Graph-Tech-Hendrix-Home-GuitarsPhoto Credit: CBC News

Being a luthier that places importance on creating guitars as works of art (and not just music makers), Forsland decided to incorporate pieces of the wood into a commissioned guitar he was making for Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

"He's one of Slash's childhood heroes or guitar gods. It just seemed right to me. They are both just really fantastic guitar players." - Reuben Forsland

After incorporating the wood into the neck of the Slash guitar, Forsland realized there was so much more he could do with the reclaimed pieces of the house.

Reuben-Forsland-Graph-Tech-Hendrix-Home-GuitarsPhoto Credit: CBC News

Thus, the Harmonic Hendrix Home Guitars series was born: a 10-guitar artisan series embedded with fragments of the Hendrix home. Of course, Forsland had to first check with the Hendrix family, but after much legal discussion, everyone came to a positive conclusion about the project.

“I thought that was a real positive way of using the materials," said Janie Hendrix, the CEO of Authentic Hendrix and Jimi's younger sister. “True guitarists of any level that love music and love guitars, they’ve all been introduced to Jimi at one point or another.”

The ultra-special guitars make use of the old wood panels for the soundboard, with nails from the old boards serving as fret markers. Forsland has even found a use for the old paint chipping off the boards by re-epoxying it into the rosette of the instrument.

Adding a touch of modern finesse to each of the pieces, Forsland incorporates Graph Tech’s Ratio® Machine Heads to make sure the playing experience is as enjoyable as the guitar’s physical presence. 

Ratio-Tuners-Jimi-Hendrix-Graph-Tech-Hendrix-Home-GuitarsPhoto Credit: CBC News

So far, only two of the 10 guitars have been finished. When all the Harmonic Hendrix Home Guitars are complete, 10 musicians and collectors around the world will own a very special piece of pop culture history.

A portion of the proceeds from the project will go to the development of a new park in Seattle in honour of Jimi Hendrix. Take a listen to the beautiful instruments below. 

Harmonic Hendrix Home Finished Guitar from JOI Guitars on Vimeo.

To learn more about Graph Tech’s Ratio® Tuned Machine Heads - which make tuning, retuning and open tunings easier, quicker and more intuitive - CLICK HERE


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