VG Q&A: Jimi Flip

Plus, Precision Bass rests and an odd Galliano
Jimi Hendrix rips on a custom-color Strat in 1967. Monk Montgomery displays the form Leo Fender intended when players grabbed a Precision Bass. Dominick Trupia’s Galliano (below).

I’ve never read why Jimi Hendrix played and set up a right-hand Strat to play left-handed. Surely, he could’ve found a lefty model. Does anybody know? – Garry Curry

The easy answer is that like a lot of lefties, Jimi learned on a right-handed guitar because that’s all he had as a kid. But it goes deeper. Albert King, Otis Rush, and Doyle Bramhall, II learned on a right-handed guitar that they simply flipped upside-down and left strung with the low E at the bottom. Hendrix, though, re-strung his to be correct – low E on top.

He later could have bought (or been given) all the lefty guitars he wanted, but his philosophy was that since guitar companies made hundreds of right-handed guitars for every one lefty, they were likely better at making righty guitars. We can’t know if that holds water, but it’s what he said.

Even when Fender supposedly sent him lefty guitars (suspicious items that turned up at auctions years ago without much provenance), he didn’t use them. And, he even played re-strung righty versions of symmetrical guitars like Flying Vs and SGs. In fact, the 12-string Zemaitis acoustic he played on “Hear My Train a-Comin’” for A Film About Jimi Hendrix was a right-handed model flipped over and re-strung. – Dan Forte

I started playing guitar more than 60 years ago, using my father’s 15″ Galiano; he immigrated to New Jersey around 1910 and purchased it thereafter. I’ve been especially curious about its origin since reading Peter Kohman’s “Neapolitan New York Enigma: The Mystique of Galiano” in the October ’19 issue. The label in mine is different from those Peter describes; it says “Angelo Galliano – Guitar Mandolin – Manufacturer New York.” Also, stamped in red ink is “Signature – Angelo Galliano” – the last name spelled differently. So, is it a true Galliano (or Galiano)? – Dominick Trupia

It’s difficult to determine with certainty without an in-hand inspection, but your Galiano looks similar to many other 1900-1920s flat-tops we’ve seen labeled with that brand, and appears to be earlier than most. It may have possibly been made in the Oscar Schmidt factory for resale under that brand, or hand-made in Little Italy. The “blacked” neck is more commonly seen on 19th-century instruments, but may have persisted into the 20th. The body is artfully grained in faux rosewood, very well done. I have not seen that exact label before; the addition of “Angelo” is also new to me, as is the rubber-stamped signature. This is likely a very early use of the Galliano brand and was possibly sold through Angelo Mannello’s operation, one of the first big Italian-American firms operating in New York City from the 1890s. He died in 1922, and is mostly known now as a mandolin builder.

The mechanics of how the Galiano trade name came to be used by multiple builders/sellers seems lost to history. Still, yours is an interesting guitar, historically. – Peter Stuart Kohman

Why are the thumbrests on some vintage basses under, not above, the strings, like on the Vox Symphonic (VG, November ’22). This placement seems useless for right-handed players. – Peter Wojtiuk

That rest is intended for how Leo Fender envisioned people playing the electric bass – remember, he had no one to copy!

The original Precision was designed for the player to rest their palm on the center pickup cover and play with the thumb while gripping the “tug bar” with their fingers. In practice, very few players used it that way, as most either plucked with fingers (like an upright) or used a pick (like a guitar).

Monk Montgomery – one of the first “name” Fender players – did play that way for a long time and defended the thumb technique in interviews into the ’70s! Other makers (like Gibson and Vox) were simply copying Fender, presumably assuming that since Leo ruled the bass market, he knew what he was doing. – Peter Stuart Kohman

This column addresses questions about guitar-related subjects, ranging from songs, albums, and musicians to the minutiae of instrument builds, manufacturers, and the collectible market. Questions can be sent to with “VG Q&A” in the subject line.

This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.