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“It’s easy to forget this guy was experimenting with serious drop-tuning way back then”: Eric Gales on the magic of Jimi Hendrix

“He had no boundaries when it came to trying things.”

Eric Gales and Jimi Hendrix

Image: Steve Jennings / David Redfern / Getty Images

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The name Jimi Hendrix is a tough one to miss in quite possibly any discussion of the last century on guitar’s best. Of Hendrix’s legacy, blues-rock virtuoso Eric Gales describes the late legend as being “all about innovation”, saying, “he had no boundaries when it came to trying things.”

In a recent chat with Total Guitar, Gales points to Hendrix as one of his biggest musical influences, proclaiming that “there’s nothing he did that didn’t influence me – from his legendary tone to the way he used chords to writing and everything else.”

According to Gales, Hendrix was “able to find new sounds by just sitting down and experimenting on his own. He found all these different techniques that seemed to work for him, things like using his thumb for bass notes over the neck.”

“He had big hands so he was able to use his own physicality to help him accomplish whatever he was hearing in his head. And it feels like he never gave up – that guy would do whatever it took to make it happen!”

Beyond creating new things though, Hendrix was able to make them his own, says Gales: “He was also taking his own influences and moulding all of them into his own unique character”.

“It’s easy to forget this guy was experimenting with serious drop-tuning way back then,” he adds. “A lot of these new kids think drop-tuning is this new thing that just came out and it’s like, ‘No way, Jimi Hendrix was doing that stuff a long time ago!’”

“All these different approaches and techniques were the sound of him getting the noises out of his head and onto the fretboard and ultimately through his amp cabinet. He’d intentionally bust his speakers to create distorted sounds. He had no boundaries when it came to trying things.”

“He was the one to say, ‘Alright, I’m playing this guitar and you will all know who I am!’ It’s like he came from this whole other planet. He was so ahead of his time, even now you listen to his recordings and they sound like something new and exciting.”

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