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January 2nd, 2009:

Collectable Guitars pt 7 – Fender Katana


In 1985 Fender was under threat from rival brand Gibson, who offered a variety of very successful rock guitars (Flying V, Explorer etc.), and companies specialising in pointy-shaped metal guitars, such as Jackson and Dean with the successful Randy Rhoads model and the ML, respectively.

Fender were, at this time, one of the only major guitar brands without such a model in its range. Their attempt to muscle in on this profitable sector of the market led to two designs, the Performer and Katana you see here.

katanaThe Katana and Performer were exclusively built in Fender’s then – new Japanese plant, built in response to much cheaper and nearly as good Japanese copies of Fender’s models.

The Katana is vaguely Jackson Rhoads – shaped and was available as a Fender or a much cheaper and more basic Squier version. The Fender version had a set neck, two humbuckers and a locking tremolo, whereas the Squier has a bolted neck with only 21 frets, one humbucker and a standard trem. Squier versions are slightly less hard to find, but neither are common.

The Fender Katana was a commercial flop, and was only made from 1985 to 1986. All versions are very rare, and Fender versions are likely to be over £500 on the rare occurrence of one being put up for sale.

Squier versions are much less expensive, due to the less elaborate construction and less expensive hardware, but don’t expect a search for either to be over quickly.

Fender have since stuck to making their standard iconic models, the Stratocaster and Telecaster among others.

The Fender Japan factory is still in use for making cheaper Fenders than the American and Mexican ranges.

Collectable Guitars pt 6 – ESP KH-20 Kirk Hammett 20th Anniversary



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kh-20smlYou can read more about the superstrat in our history of Ibanez, who pioneered the genre with the RG, S and JEM models, but for now let’s focus on a particular superstrat made by high-end manufacturer ESP for Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett.

There are several Hammett models in the ESP range, but this ultra-limited edition sits proudly at the top of the tree. ESP have only made 20 of these guitars, and all are sold.

The 20th Anniversary was made to mark 20 years of Hammett endorsing ESP guitars, and comes complete with several embellishments not found anywhere near his other guitars.

It has an alder body with a gorgeous flamed maple top, two EMG 81 humbuckers, an original Floyd Rose tremolo, a maple thru-neck and Kirk’s signature fretboard inlays (quite literally in the case of the 12th fret: Kirk’s signature has been replicated painstakingly in mother of pearl).

The KH-20 is, as previously mentioned, top of ESP’s KH range, and because of the special features and 20-piece production run.

They can still be found, but the price is currently around $10,000.  

Cheaper Hammett models exist, however, so if you are a Metallica fan who wants a slice of their metal pie, you’re spoilt for choice.