Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal featured in New Year’s Day auction

Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal, amp and fuzz prototype pedal go up for auction on New Year’s Day at J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale. Dave Weyer, “Amp Doctor” to many rock stars, has consigned the prototype he built that was used to create the three-transistor “always on” fuzz pedal, left. Mr. Weyer also repaired and modified the amp that Hendrix used in his early Experience days. The wah-wah pedal was custom-built by Mr. Weyer for Hendrix prior to Woodstock, right. (Antoine Gedroyc, J. Levine Auction & Consignment)

A part of rock ‘n roll history will be auctioned New Year’s Day when one of Jimi Hendrix’s treasured wah-wah pedals and an amplifier he used to record hit songs go up for auction at J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale.

The consignor, famous “Amp Doctor” Dave Weyer, built the wah pedal for Hendrix prior to Woodstock and said the amplifier he repaired and modified for Hendrix was originally used to record songs during his early days with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and used as a pre-amp later.

“We’ve spent a lot of time reviewing the provenance, listening to audio recordings, and examining photos and films from Woodstock, and we are confident that this was the wah pedal Jimi used during Woodstock,” said Antoine Gedroyc, J. Levine’s instruments and audio manager and consignment specialist.

“It’s an honor and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent such an important part of music and American history.”

Mr. Weyer worked with a number of great artists, including Hendrix, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, Burritos Bothers, Vanilla Fudge, Three Dog Night, Ike and Tina Turner, and other rock legends of that era.

Well-respected in his industry for his technical prowess, he started his career working for Thomas Organ Company. After a few years, he had pushed for building tube amps for guitar players for the Vox division of the company. When the company opted to stick with solid state amps, Mr. Weyer moved to Los Angeles in 1968 and began working for Jerry Sanders, owner of West Coast Organ and Amp.

Now living in Montana, Mr. Weyer credits Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix for making the wah-wah pedal a must-have for every up-and-coming rock musician.

“If you recall seeing the pedal on TV or in film, you will likely associate it with one of these stars, or other mega-acts of the day,” Mr. Weyer said. “Perhaps it was symbiotic, because what would Jimi have done without the wah pedal?”

In 1969, Mr. Weyer knew Vox was coming out with a new wah pedal and wanted to create a special one for Hendrix.

“Like many techs of the period, I wanted to keep my secrets for possible future business, or even just to create a mystique around the particular item to create musician interest, so I sanded off the small printing on the transistors, making them a mysterious unknown item. Of course, anyone could have reversed-engineered the pedal and discovered what I did, but that was part and parcel of the thinking of ‘garage engineers’ back in those days,” he said, adding that the pedal took advantage of a new transistor by Motorola that set the standard for low noise and gain.

“We were extremely busy that late summer preparing all the equipment for Hendrix, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash and others. West Coast Organ and Amp Service was overflowing with gear, including everything Jimi owned. All of it was to be repaired or modded for the Woodstock concert, including the now famous Stratocaster,” Mr. Weyer recalled.

he truckload of equipment included two of Hendrix’s favorite West Coast creations, the V846 “Sepulveda” wah pedal, which was still months from being available to the public, and the prototype used to create the three-transistor “always on” fuzz pedal which was later built into a standard Arbiter Fuzzface casting.

“Jimi had a box of wah pedals, and I had, over the course of the year, worked on every one. But Jimi’s favorite was the yet-to-be-seen by the public, Sepulveda model with the TDK inductor and the high beta Motorola transistors,” Mr. Weyer said.

That “favorite” wah pedal that Mr. Weyer built is the one that will be up for auction in J. Levine’s New Year’s Day auction.

“It can be identified by the lack of a Vox logo on the front, the relief where the logo was supposed to be glued on, a West Coast sticker on the bottom, and Jimi’s signature on the inside of the casing wall, applied at a difficult angle, but identifiable nonetheless — and, of course, the things he loved the most, the low noise and the sharp sweep, clearly audible in the Woodstock recordings,” Mr. Weyer said.

Mr. Weyer asked Hendrix later how all of the equipment performed at Woodstock, and Hendrix responded, “Groovy.”

“I repaired the pedal again in 1970 after many concerts, fully intending to re-gift it back to him, but it all ended when he died in September,” Mr. Weyer said.
The amp was used in Hendrix’s early Experience days and played a significant role in his sound.

“The fuzz prototype Dave and Jimi developed together changed Jimi’s sound forever,” Mr. Gedroyc said.

The New Year’s Day auction is J. Levine’s biggest event of the year. This year’s auction includes a 1948 Luscombe SpeedBird airplane, a vintage Hermes Birkin Kelly bag, an unfired John Wayne’s Colt presentation set with matching serial numbers, mid-modern furniture, guitars, estate jewelry and more.

J. Levine Auction & Appraisal is located at 10345 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Doors open 9 a.m. Jan. 1, 2017 with the New Year’s Day auction starting at 11 a.m. The auction house is currently open for a free preview from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit www.jlevines.com or call 480-496-2212.

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