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Collectable Guitars pt 9 – The Fender Performer

Fender’s Katana was a flop, selling barely any units in its 1986 one-year, lifespan, even when a cheaper and more basic Squier brand version was launched. Another model was also launched to be made exclusively in Fender’s new Japanese factory, which also departed from Fender’s traditions- the Performer. This guitar resembled a Fender Stratocaster mixed with a BC Rich guitar, with a small, angular body and pointed horns.

performerThe unusual body and headstock shapes have been rumored to have originated in the shape of the scrap wood leftover from making Japanese Stratocasters. The body is small with a deep double cutaway. The tuning machines are found on the upper edge of the triangular headstock. The fretboard is two octaves and features a locking nut and jumbo frets. The bridge is a floating System I tremolo. Both bass and guitar are built to the highest level of quality and detailing. For example, the controls have inset rubber grips, the tuning heads have fully enclosed gears and the jack sockets are an enclosed, not ‘skeleton’, type, in contrast to many other Fender products with more ‘economy’ hardware.

The Performer boasted two angled custom humbucking pickups with a coil-split function and a Floyd Rose-style locking tremolo. The guitar features a volume knob, a tone knob, a pickup selector switch (neck/both/bridge) and, most importantly, a coil tap switch which disables one coil of each humbucker, resulting in a guitar with two single-coil pickups. This is perhaps the guitar’s most famous and useful feature, as it can produce heavy, fat humbucker sounds as well as crisp, sharp, Strat-like tones.

Both were discontinued in 1986 and haven’t been made since. These two guitars are a little-mentioned and underrated point in Fender’s history.

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11 Comments

  1. Frederic says:

    Hi

    Added your latest blogpost and a link to my blog if it’s ok

    http://alt-invest.blogspot.com/

    Thanks

    Frederic

  2. Pcorajr says:

    Wow I had never heard of this guitar till now. She looks like she would be a great player. Very interesting guitar i bet this one is a tone monster thanks to the electronics. Any info on the Neck profile/Radius? I’m wondering if Fender choose to use a compound radius on this one?

  3. flyssy says:

    I’m not sure about the neck profile, but they come up on ebay from time to time. Every owner review I have ever seen has been very positive, so maybe people hang on to them..I’d certainly like to pick one up at some point in the future.

  4. Nico says:

    I own a Fender Perfomer and I’m looking for a whole new System I tremolo. Where can I find parts in Europ? Can someone help me on this one?

  5. schoolmarm99 says:

    to flyssy
    My husband gave me a Fender Performer (1985-6) before he died last year. I have been in contact with John Page at Fender who designed and developed the performer, and he gave me the whole background of the guitar and suggested googling to find if there was any interest.
    Finances dictate that I sell it now, and would like $1200.00 for it . I will send pics if you want. and a cc of the mail from John I will be listing it on ebay soon.

  6. Peter says:

    I would love to get that email from John and some pics, the price is a little high based on my knowledge of the market, but I have one and love it, best…

    Peter

  7. Joey says:

    I have a Fender performer Bass. It’s the nicest bass I have ever played and it knocks spots of any USA made Precision or Jazz. The quality of build is comparable to ££££ hand-made custom basses. It has a very light, but long, micro-tilt neck that makes it incredibly playable, but unsuited to really heavy playing styles.

    One weak point – it doesn’t sound as good as my Steinberger-licensed Hohner Headless.

    Joey

  8. Eddy says:

    I have a Fender Performer 1985-86 and ,I need the Vibrato Bar,Can someone inform me where can I found-one??? in U.S.A//or//Europe
    I like very mutch me Fender.

  9. Carl says:

    I have a 1985 Cream body Performer in the original case, both in “as new” condition.
    Anyone interested?

    Carl.ogus@yahoo.com

  10. […] time they had one the Fender Master Archtops. (Although it was a little bit fancy) Another time a Fender Performer (If I’d had the cash to spare, I would have bought it.) I’ve also seen various ethnic stringed […]

  11. wayne says:

    I have a Fender Performer the same one as the above picture. I have had the fine tuning keys strip out and I am in the process of getting them repaired and I have to put a new neck nut in. My Performer went through a house fire several years back in which the hard shell case got melted around the neck surprisingly other than probably heating up the neck nut and later on it cracked off on one side (paper is holding up the low E string from it now) and heating up the zinc threads in my floating bridge and the fine tuners stripped out, it blackened the wood grain without actually damaging or warping the neck it’s not what I would have liked to have happened to it but the neck looks like the effect in woodworking when you blacken wood grain. Anyone looking for parts or repairs I have been reading a lot of good things on a website called Fretsonthenet that offers bridge repair, and tremolo arms/bars, and all kinds of other goodies handmade or original parts from this site. I hope to have my tremolo able to lock back down before long and be bending them strings again as I’ve had this guitar since the early 90’s and would love to find another in great shape I strongly encourage anyone to buy one unless I buy it first LOL. Keep on jamming peoples.

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