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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.

3 Comments

  1. geoff lamb says:

    bought mine second hand in 1987,still got it.its gold[ish] and mint condition

  2. Janis says:

    I have a Fender Squire Katana for sale if anyone is interested – excellent condition.

  3. Gary says:

    I’ve owned two, both bought brand new.

    First one, black s/n C003956 was stolen…

    Second one creme is still with me, just having a refret.

    Used to run Duncan Distortions for pups (the stock electronics are worthless), but now I’ve got Rio Grande Texas/BBQ set and have never been happier!

    P.S. The Trem is great if you make sure the rollers are free and put a lil’ 3-in-1 oil to keep them lubed 😉

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