Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Right-Handed Lefties and Left-Handed Righties…My obsession with Hendrix and upside down Stratocasters

As many of you know, Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, but played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster – turned upside down! I’ve always been fascinated with not only the sound of Hendrix on that right-handed upside-down Strat, but with the way it looked as well. There’s something about the whammy bar on top and the tuners on the bottom.  I was really intrigued, so number of years ago I bought a righty Strat, turned it upside-down and restrung it. This was definitely the closest I’d ever come to sounding like Hendrix! I even had a friend “distress” it to make it look like it was 50+ years old, and went so far as to put cigarette burns on the headstock. (see me with my Strat below)

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Well, I never actually knew what made his distinctive sound so unique. Then I ran across this article in Popular Mechanics magazine about how flipping and restringing a standard right-handed Fender Stratocaster fundamentally changes the string tension and microphone location. That’s what produced Hendrix’s signature mix of bright highs and delicate lows.


Here are the highlights:


  • The rear pickup on the traditional Stratocaster is intentionally slanted – capturing the higher strings near their base – where they have a more piercing tone. On Hendrix’s guitar, it catches the higher strings farther up, so instead of shrieking, they sing.


  • Guitar pickups are mini-microphones, with a pole magnet aligned below each string. And the distance between the magnet and the string varies for each string. But by reversing the orientation of the traditional Stratocaster, Hendrix changed which strings were closest to their magnets, and consequently, most prominent in the mix. Pretty crazy stuff.


  • Conversely, Hendrix’s low strings were comparatively tighter, which made them sound less booming and twangy.


  • On a traditional Strat, the highest strings (E, B) are the longest. When turned upside-down, they become the shortest, so they don’t have to be pulled as tightly to be in tune. For Hendrix, that made them easier to bend, like on “All Along the Watchtower.”


  • Fender’s headstock design makes every string a different length, so restringing the guitar upside-down changed which strings were longest. This altered the subtle overtones produced by vibrations on the unplayed part of the string above the top of the neck, near the tuning keys.


What’s really amazing is that I doubt Hendrix ever thought about any of this. He just had a tough time finding a decent left-handed guitar, especially back in the day. So Instead, he snagged a cool Strat , flipped it over, restrung it, and ta-da! The rest is history.







What’s Printed Where – Free Sonic Branding LP

Free Vinyl LP

We here at SAM can’t resist having fun with music – in all its forms. Now we’re doing it again with the latest in our series of limited edition vinyl releases.

Behold our latest creation, “What’s Printed Where.”

What’s the deal?

Well, take a clear vinyl record that you can see through. Next, slip it into a transparent sleeve with a yellow image, then slide that sleeve into an album cover which is also clear, but with a blue image, and voila – it’s green!

You are now looking at a very cool LP fresh off the press from SAM – our 3rd generation sample reel – which isn’t really a reel but a vinyl record (hint: usually works best with a turntable.)

Thus our newest Stephen Arnold Music Vinyl is appropriately titled “What’s Printed Where,” since we never really knew what was going to be printed where.

The fun part is when you first receive your LP, you’ll notice the revamped image of our original sonically branded lady: a girl with a shaved head whom we have always internally referred to as “Mary.” Once again Mary is on our new vinyl, only now she’s green with red ear buds.

But once you pull the sleeve from the LP cover, it turns out our Mary is actually blue…but in fact on the sleeve she’s yellow. Confused? We are too! So let’s all roll with it – because if you reassemble the sleeve out of sequence, you may well see Mary in a totally different light (color, that is).

And as a special bonus, you’ll notice a credit card that we’ve slipped into the LP jacket and, depending on how rough the mail service was and where the card ends up inside the cover…. this card could be green, blue or yellow – until you pull it out and see it’s actually white.

And actually, it’s not a free credit card (sorry!) but a flash drive with all the music contained on the vinyl — for those of you that have retired your turntables. It’s music from our amazing partners we are privileged to work with like CNN, Golf Channel, CCTV China, ABC, ESPN, MSNBC, FOX Business, National Geographic Channel, Time Warner and over 300 local television stations.

Know what’s printed where now? If not, just listen: It’ll all make sense to your ears. And Kudos to Doug Rucker and his amazing team at Rucker and Co. in Dallas for creating something which is nothing short of creative genius.

To request your free LP just click on the email link below. It’s that easy!

Or give us a call at:

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Sound of The Story – Promax Station Summit 2015

Les Paul Station Summit 2015
The annual Station Summit is upon us, and Stephen Arnold Music (SAM) will be there with the best music in the local broadcast television industry!
SAM JAM 2015

After Hours Station Summit

If you are attending the conference at The Mirage in Las Vegas, then stop by our special Promax guitar display — you’ll see some amazing legendary guitars from Stephen’s personal collection that are featured in his book, A Story of Six Strings.

We’ll also be giving away a collectible Gibson Les Paul signed by the legendary Les Paul.

So make plans to stop by, have a chat, drop your card in the box and maybe walk away with a classic, signed guitar. The drawing is Thursday, June 25 around 4:15pm, immediately after “The Next News Industry” session lets out. Remember, you must be present to win.

Thursday night, don’t miss our 5th annual “After Hours SAM JAM,” featuring the sensational Byron Bordaux. This year we’ll be jammin’ at V Bar at The Venetian along with our many station friends from across the country from 9 until 11pm!

Good luck and hope to see you kickin’ it with us in Vegas … baby!

Click here for more info about Station Summit »

KCAU-TV – Winner of “What’s the Sound of Your Story?”

A big congrats to station KCAU with their winning video entry “Sioux City Musketeers Intro Video 2014”.  You are now the proud owners of one of my favorite and treasured guitars: a 1980 Gibson Les Paul Custom signed by Les Paul!

This has been a really fun contest for us at SAM, and we are excited to have received so many entries, such enthusiasm and thousands of votes. It’s been great to see what amazing creative is being produced by our friends and colleagues at local stations. Really cool. While there is only one winner, I think we can all be inspired by seeing all these great spots!

We want to thank everyone for their participation in our first “What’s the Sound of Your Story” contest.  And I want to say “good-bye” to my guitar.

Authenticated signed Gibson Les Paul

You can view all local station video entries here:

VOTE on Local Station Videos – The Sound of Your Story

Voting is now officially open for our online contest “What’s The Sound of Your Story?”

  • Check out the Best Work from Your Peers here »
  • Cast Your Vote.
  • You Choose Who Wins!

THE WINNING STATION will receive this amazing guitar from Stephen’s collection:
An authenticated 1980’s Gibson Les Paul signed by Les Paul!

Stephen Arnold Music - Sound of Your Story

How It Works:
Simply click on the “thumbs up” icon for the video you like. Users can vote for their favorite video one (1) time every 24 hours during the voting period. After 2 weeks, the most popular video will be the winner!

Vote on Your Sound of the Story now!

Stephen Arnold Music Video Contest


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