Collectable Guitars

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.