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Jeff Buckley’s Telecaster For Sale

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481My friend Nicolai over at Vintage and Rare has alerted me to the sale of one of Jeff Buckley’s most used guitars through Chelsea Guitars, one of the dealers who advertise through his website.

The 1983 Telecaster was used extensively for live work by Jeff and was given to a close female friend by his family after Jeff’s untimely death in 1997.

I am not sure on all the details of the guitar, (it obviously has a replacement pickup) but Chelsea or Vintage and Rare will be able to supply all information needed. The guitar comes with all the provenance needed to prove its importance and legitimacy.

Here’s the link to the full details; Jeff Buckley’s 1983 Telecaster for sale

Inside the Fender Custom Shop..

A tour around the Fender Custom Shop..

Vintage Guitar magazine Lists 10 Most Valuable Guitars

Vintage Guitar magazine has released a list of the 10 most valuable production-model electric and acoustic guitars. Using data accumulated in the research for The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2011, the list includes only guitars that were originally offered in manufacturer product lines. It does not include custom-made and/or celebrity-owned instruments.

“Guitars are an American pop-culture icon,” said Alan Greenwood, publisher of both the magazine and the Price Guide. “And through the years, certain guitars have, thanks in part to players, songs, and the laws of supply and demand, become exceedingly valuable to collectors.

“There are few collectibles as cool as guitars,” Greenwood added. “They’re functional, tactile art that inspires players and music fans alike.”
The 10 most valuable guitars are:

  1. The 1936-’39 Martin D-45 ($320,000 to $400,000) – Vintage Martin dreadnoughts are considered the pinnacle of steel-string acoustics, and those given the Style 45 details are the top of the line.
  2. The 1958-’60 Gibson Les Paul Standard ($300,000 to $375,000) – The status of Gibson’s Les Paul changed dramatically with the 1966 release of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers featuring Eric Clapton. Then Michael Bloomfield started playing one, which influenced other top-tier guitarists of the late ’60s.
  3. The 1958-’59 Gibson Explorer ($250,000 to $310,000) – Part of an attempt to market “modernistic” guitars in the “space age,” it got little attention from buyers, so production numbers stayed very low.
  4. The 1958-’59 Gibson Flying V ($200,000 to $250,000) – Another of Gibson’s “modernistic” guitars, it was offered for only two years (1959 and ’60).
  5. The 1931-’36 Martin D-28 ($140,000 to $170,000) – Though not as fancy as the D-45, its $100 price tag was still high in the midst of the Great Depression.
  6. The 1938-’42 Gibson Super Jumbo/SJ-200 ($90,000 to $120,000) – Gibson’s answer to Martin’s D, it was larger, showier, and wound up in the hands of many a big-screen singing cowboy.
  7. The ’57 Gibson Les Paul model ($86,000 to $106,000) – Gibson’s original Les Paul, the “goldtop” was refined until it peaked in ’57, when it was used to launch the company’s new “humbucking” pickups.
  8. D’Aquisto archtops ($75,000 to $100,000) – Luthier James D’Aquisto mostly built to order, and his rarest models bring a premium.
  9. 1950 Fender Broadcaster ($68,000 to $86,000) – Leo Fender’s original single-cutaway design has a simple, workingman’s appeal. Known today as the Telecaster, it’s one of the “big three” collectible electrics.
  10. 1957-’60 Gibson Les Paul Custom ($66,000 to $81,000) – With a black finish and gold-colored hardware, it was the fanciest version of the original Les Paul guitar.

For more information, contact Ward Meeker, Editor, Vintage Guitar, at, or 800-844-1197. To view and/or download high-resolution images of guitars from this list, go to

Hendrix Fender Duo Sonic Sells for £164,000!

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481As posted the other day, the tan coloured Fender Duo Sonic, played by Hendrix before he was famous, fetched £164,675 at an auction today, over 400 times the price he originally paid.

The star’s early guitar sparked a bidding frenzy at the Cameo Auctioneers Records’ Music and Memorabilia auction in Midgham, Berkshire.

Hendrix had paid just £100 for the tan guitar when he was an unknown 21-year-old backing musician.

Going by the name Jimmy James, he used the 1959/60 model from March to November 1964 while performing with the Isley Brothers.

Two original pieces of Hendrix artwork from 1967 were also sold for a total of £17,400.

Bobs Brownies 1970´s Fender Collection

Here’s a nice video by my buddy Nicolai from Vintage and Rare.

This is probably the largest collection of brown 1970’s Fender guitars in the world, including a tasty brown Starcaster in the back row..not a colour I have ever seen before on the Starcaster, which is rare in any colour!

The collection is for sale, but only as a collection..Bob won’t split out individual pieces.

Collectable Guitars pt 39 – Fender Lead 1, 2 and 3 Models

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481The Fender Lead series electric guitars were manufactured from 1979-1982.

They was produced in Fullerton, California factory under the direction of Greg Wilson and John Page.

They resemble Fender Stratocasters in appearance, but have a unique set of features. Steve Morse was one endorsee of the Fender Lead, and the whole series were probably designed to cash in the fashion for single pickup, Van Halen style superstrats  in the late ’70s and early ’80s

In 1979, Fender introduced the Lead I. The Lead I had a only one pickup, a humbucker in the bridge position. The Fender Lead series models all had the 25 1/2 inch scale length  of a Fender Stratocaster and  all Lead models were available with either maple or rosewood fretboards.

The Fender Lead I controls are unique. There is a 3 position pickup selector switch (Neck pickup, Neck & Bridge parallel mix, Bridge pickup) a phase switch, a master volume control, master tone control. The volume and tone potentimoters are 250k and the tone capacitor is 0.05 uf ceramic.

The Fender Lead I was manufactured until the end of the Lead series in 1982. The price of a Fender lead I in 1979 was $399.

Today a Fender Lead I in excellent condition sells for up to $1000.

The Lead II was also introduced in 1979.

It featured Two specially designed X-1 single coil pickups. The X-1 pickups were promoted as “wide range single coils” and are slightly hotter than a standard Strat of that era.

Both the Lead I and Lead II were normally finished in either black, wine red or brown.

Today a Fender Lead II in excellent condition sells for around the same price as the Lead 1.

The Lead III was manufactured in 1982 only. It had 2 humbuckers.

All of these guitars are becoming collectable now, as they are American made Fenders  and the youngest are at least 25 years old, which gives them an intrinsic value. They are quite rare, but still affordable, so it it worth tracking them down and snapping them up when available.

It turns out father does know best

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481Here is a great story I unearthed the other day. It just goes to show that there are still some fantastic guitars out there, still waiting to be found!

This is the story of my father, who was a pack rat, his 50-year-old guitar, which sat neglected in our basement for years, and the extraordinary Hanukkah surprise our family received this year.

Much to my mom’s chagrin, my dad never threw out anything. Even old things would find a new use one day, dad used to say.

He not only kept things that were obviously meaningful–such as his old grammar school notebooks or his collection of corny, handwritten jokes he kept just in case he needed a groaner for a party.

He also saved stuff that no one else would think of keeping–like the hang tag for the 1956 Fender Esquire he bought in Saskatchewan not long after my parents immigrated to Canada.

Fate delivered a cruel blow about three decades ago when dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The tremors first began in his right hand–his scalpel hand–and my father had to give up surgery.

Soon it became too difficult for him to play the guitar and the Fender was tucked into its bag and stashed away.

About a decade ago, my brother-in-law expressed interest in learning how to play the guitar so my father gave him the Fender. But just like I never used that sewing machine I bought on a whim many years ago, my brother-in- law never got around to taking guitar lessons.

So the lonely Fender sat untouched in their basement for years.

A couple of years ago, after my father died, my brother told some of his guitar-playing friends about the Fender. After seeing photos of it, they concluded: “Dude, this is a serious guitar!”

They sat my brother down in front of the computer, showed him some vintage guitar sites and it slowly dawned on my brother that my dad’s old guitar might be quite valuable.

Still, procrastination set in and my brother didn’t actually take the guitar in to be appraised until a couple of weeks ago.

As my brother tells it, the vintage guitar specialist “opened up the case, looked at it quietly for about 30 seconds and his eyes lit up.”

That specialist, Chris Bennett, of the Twelfth Fret in Toronto, spent about 45 minutes examining the guitar. He took it apart to check out the markings and electronics, then put it back together and played it briefly.

“Other employees kept coming over to see what he was up to and they universally had the same reaction: ‘Holy (bleep)!’ ” recalls my brother. “There was a buzz in the store.”

My father probably paid about $180 for the Fender when he bought it in 1957, says Bennett. The Esquire, introduced in 1950, and played by musicians such as Jeff Beck when he was with the Yardbirds, was a big seller.

In fact, Fender now has a custom shop that recreates those pieces for about $3,000, says Bennett.

“It’s a way of connecting with the past and getting one of those guitars without paying $15,000 and up for them,” he explains.

“It’s a lovely guitar. It definitely made my day,” he says of my dad’s Fender. He appraised it at $25,000 US because it’s in great shape, hasn’t been altered and it’s got the original hang tag and carrying bag.

“My eyes bugged out,” says my astonished brother. “I was gobsmacked,” adds my mom.

Perhaps my Irish father always knew he’d immigrate to western Canada. Long before he ever bought the Fender, he was strumming songs such asRed River Valley, Home on the RangeandRidin’ Down the Sunset Trailon earlier guitars.

“(The guitar) was just occupying space as far as I was concerned,” says my mom. “I’ve decided that I probably won’t throw anything away.”

Mindelle Jacobs

Collectable Guitars pt 36 – Fender Electric XII

The Fender Electric XII was a purpose-built 12-string electric guitar, designed for folk rockers. Instead of using a Stratocaster-body style, it used one with a Jaguar/Jazzmaster body style.

It was also a departure from the typical “Stratocaster”-style headstock, instead featuring a long headstock nicknamed the “hockey-stick” headstock. The Electric XII used a unique split pickup design and had a 4 way pickup selector allowing for neck, neck & bridge in series, neck & bridge in parallel and bridge only options. It also used a string-through-body design similar to a Telecaster to help increase sustain.

Designed by Leo Fender, the Fender Electric XII was introduced in late 1965 with the bulk of the production taking place in 1966 before it was discontinued around 1970.

Unlike its competitors’ electric 12-string models which were simply existing 6-string guitars with six extra strings, the Fender Electric XII was a purpose-built 12-string designed to capture a part of the folk-rock market.

The headstock was a departure from Fender’s usual Stratocaster-style shape and is sometimes referred to as the “hockey stick” headstock.

Leo Fender’s bridge design for this model is elegantly simple, works extremely well, and is regarded by many as one of his best designs of the 1960s. The bridge has an individual saddle for each string making precise intonation possible. The design is also string-through-body which helps to increase sustain.

Perhaps the most famous user of the Fender Electric XII was Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page who used one to record “Stairway to Heaven.”

Other notable users of the Electric XII were Pete Townshend, who used it extensively on the album Tommy, and folk-rocker Tim Buckley. Johnny Winter also used one briefly (strung as a regular six-string) during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

1960’s models currently sell for around £2000-2500.

Collectable Guitars pt 35 – Fender Duosonic

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Fender DuoSonic guitar was first produced by in 1956.

It was meant to be a student guitar. It featured a short, 22.5 inch, scale length that was considerably shorter than the 25.5 inch scale used on standard Fender guitars.

Fender Duosonic Guitar

The DuoSonic, which is sometimes spelled as Duo-Sonic or Duosonic, has two, single coil, pickups and a vertical pickup selector switch that is placed on the lower horn of the body.

Duo-Sonic II

Fender released a new guitar called the Mustang in August 1964. This guitar was an economy model and was designed for student guitarists. This guitar featured a new design of tremolo arm that many guitarists found impractical. At the same time Fender also release the Duosonic II which had the same offset waist body but did not have the tremolo arm.

Fender discontinued the Duo-Sonic II in 1969.

This model was only in production for 5 five years. It has become Fender guitar that has a growing collector value due to its rarity and player demand.

Many guitar players prefer the Duo-Sonic II to the similar Fender Mustang. This is because they prefer the more practical fixed bridge to the Duosonic II as compared to the troublesome tremolo bridge of the Mustang.

The Duo-Sonic is closely identified with Liz Phair though it was used by David Byrne of the Talking Heads early in their career as well as Jimi Hendrix (when he toured the under the name Jimmy James with The Isley Brothers).

Johnny Winter also used a modified Duo-Sonic during the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly on his first few albums.

Patti Smith also plays a Duo-Sonic and has featured her guitar in song lyrics, for example in “Radio Ethiopia/Abyssinia” from the Radio Ethiopia LP.

Tom Cummings from Human Condition uses the late 90’s remake Duo-Sonic.

The Duo-Sonic I and II are both considered rare and have displayed growing collector value. The Duo-Sonic II in particular is often seen as a desirable alternative to the more popular Mustang, since it negates the difficult-to-maintain tremolo bridge.

Fender have recently re-issued very cheap “Squier” version of the duosonic, but original 60’s ones are still available for under $2000. Well worth a look at that price!

Collectable Guitars pt 30 – Fender Elite Telecaster

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Fender’s iconic Telecaster has many submodels to its name, which have their own distinct set of players. These include the Thinline semi-hollow model, the Custom with a humbucker at the neck and a different scratchplate, and the Deluxe, with two humbuckers and a wide headstock reminiscent of the 1970s Stratocasters.

But that isn’t the full list of submodels offered as part of this iconic range…

Fender Elite TelecasterThe Elite concept was an ambitious project to combine tradition with modern (at the time) technologies with more user-friendly hardware, upgraded electronics and better neck adjustment. The intention was to produce an upgraded version of a classic with a more modern look and feel, and to hopefully entice some Gibson players into the Fender family.

It was designed as a loud rock-orientated instrument, with 2 humbuckers, four knobs as opposed to the usual two,a three way toggle switch and white binding on the top body edge. The Elite had new pickups and active circuitry, with MDX and TBX controls, a biflex truss rod and a new heavy duty cast bridge, not usually seen on Telecasters. According to several reviews on Harmony the guitar has a heavy ash body and the usual bolt-on maple neck.

The Telecaster Elite is truly “the one that got away”- it was introduced in 1983 in 3 different versions;

  • The Elite, with chrome hardware,
  • The Gold Elite with gold-plated hardware and pearloid button tuners
  • The Walnut Elite, made with American black Walnut body and neck., an ebony fretboard, gold-plated hardware and pearloid button tuners.

A tremolo and 22 fret neck version were also considered, but CBS’s decision in 1984 to divest from Fender put paid to these variations.

Fender Elite Telecaster

It was, as was the case with the Performer and Katana released around the same time, just too different for traditional Fender players to accept as a guitar truly worth their attention and was dropped with little or no fanfare in 1985.

However, if we assess it on its own merits the story could have been quite different.

The guitars weren’t generally accepted by Fender fans, and as such are rare. However, examples occasionally come up for sale, usually in the £750-1200 range. I myself saw one on a recent trip to that haven for all things guitar, Denmark Street in London. The price tag said £ask, however, so prices remain unclear.

Collectable Guitars pt 27 – Fender Robben Ford Model

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Blues/Jazz guitarist Robben Ford merges styles to redefine the term “fusion” music. His sound, delivery and conception are all his own – as unmistakable and personal as a fingerprint. He chose a deliberate reinterpretation of the unusual Fender Esprit Ultra as the basis for his signature instrument (the Fender Robben Ford Signature model), which reflects Robben’s discriminating and diverse as both a soloist and rhythm player.

Fender Robben Ford Signature GuitarDesigned in the mid-1980’s, the Esprit effectively reconciled the differences between a blues, jazz and rock guitar, making it ideal for Robben’s varied musical tangents. He was originally drawn to the smaller body size, double-cutaway comfort and remarkable playability of the Esprit as an alternative to the larger, honky-sounding semi-hollow-body he had been playing. Though the Esprit was discontinued by the late 1980’s, Robben remained an ardent user.

The History of the “Master Series”  (by Gary Koehler) is as follows;

Approximately 25 years ago, Dan Smith had an idea. He conceptualized a solidbody guitar with routed chambers. These chambers would, in theory, provide a more resonant tonal characteristic. He also formulated and designed a basic shape for the guitar.

Then, in the early 1980s, Fender became interested in producing and marketing instruments which would be viewed as alternatives to those offered by Gibson. These guitars would not be copies, of course, but highly playable guitars with versatile electronics and other features previously unavailable on instruments manufactured by Fender. The company asked Smith to submit a concept, and what followed was an adventurous effort to produce a new line of guitars unique to the Fender’s catalog. The line was called the Master Series.

Two of Smith’s designs were solidified – the Flame and the Esprit (pronounced espree). Both featured alder bodies with routed tone chambers, maple tops, and set-in necks.

The Flame’s body is slightly larger than a Gibson Les Paul, and features two slightly offset cutaways, similar to Gibson’s SG. Two special-design humbucking pickups were developed via Schaller, as was a tailpiece with fine-tuners. The intention was to offer an electronically versatile alternative to the Gibson Les Paul.

The Esprit’s body is slightly larger than the Flame’s, and features two symmetrical cutaways. As with the Flame, two special-design Schaller humbuckers were employed in conjunction with the fine-tuning tailpiece. This instrument was intended as an alternative to the Gibson ES-335.

A third model was an archtop designed by the late James D’Aquisto. His design included some imaginative, versatile features and stands as a testament to D’Aquisto’s creativity as a luthier. 

These three designs were marketed together as the Fender Master Series.

Once designs were approved, the company turned its attention to issues of manufacturing and production. Fender decided that, at that time, it did not possess the technology to build the instruments. The Japanese company Fujigen Gakki (which served as an Ibanez facility) was contracted by Fender to manufacture the line.

Fender ultimately decided to produce three models of both types. The suffixes Standard, Elite, and Ultra were added under the headings Flame and Esprit. Standards featured dot inlays and chrome tuners. The Elites featured diamond-flake inlays and pearloid-button tuners. And the Ultras had split-block shell inlays, ebony-button tuners and gold hardware. Finish options on the Standards were limited to black, autumn sunburst, and cherry sunburst. The Elite and Ultra were also available in white or pink frost, and candy red or candy green metallic burst.

Smith said Fender offered the Kahler tremolo bridge as an option on these guitars. He recalls Fender made the modification post-production, and relatively few were shipped.

He was unable to find records indicating quantities made, but estimated that between late 1983 and 1985, a few thousand were manufactured. In retrospect, Smith feels the guitars were successful in regard to quality and public perception. The line’s downfall was the sale and subsequent transitional period experienced by Fender. In 1986, Robben Ford was brought on as an endorser of the Esprit model, then Fender reworked the production concept and dubbed the guitar the Robben Ford signature model.

In its incarnation as the Robben Ford signature model, it has retained many of the Ultra’s significant features and deluxe appointments, as specified by Robben, including the Ebony fingerboard with fancy Mother-of-Pearl split-block inlays, Ebony tuning key pegs, multiple binding on the headstock, neck and body and gold-plated hardware. The solid Alder body with a carved Spruce top and built-in acoustical tone chambers is a clever variation on the classic solid-body construction theme of mahogany and maple and is a vital component in producing the rich and consistent sustaining Robben Ford solo guitar voice.

Another is the two-humbucker pickup configuration which yields both a mellow, neck-pickup jazz sound as well as a robust, bridge-pickup blues-rock tone. The coil-splitting switch provides interesting thinner and twangier single-coil timbres ideal for rootsy rock and roll, R&B and funky rhythm comping.

Current values of these rare and collectable guitars are in the £1500-2000 range.

Collectable Guitars pt 26 – Fender Starcaster

The Starcaster was a short lived semi-hollow guitar made in the mid-1970s and early 1980s as competition to Gibson’s ES335 model. It is uncertain whether it was made from 1976 to 1977 or 1980 to 1982.

The guitar featured the Gibson traditional semi-hollow body and humbuckers, but with a new 6-on-1-side headstock and Fender’s trademark bolt-on neck. 

Fender Starcaster guitar

It also had a maple fretboard and an offset twin-cutaway body, somewhere between a Gibson ES-335 and a Fender Stratocaster. The pickups were Fender’s own Wide Range humbuckers, designed by Seth Lover, known for working with Gibson on their original PAF humbuckers, and allegedly naming their iconic Flying V guitar.

The Wide Range pickups were also used on 1970s Telecaster Custom models. This guitar was therefore a bit of a weird compromise between the two major guitar brands at the time.

Because of this fact, the Starcaster was never really accepted by fans of either of the big names. It found few takers, and was discontinued soon after its launch.

However, it has become collectible as a curiosity guitar, and has been used by Dave Keuning of the Killers and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. Starcasters rarely come up for sale, so it’s hard to pinpoint prices, but on Ebay they are in the £1200-1500 region.

Collectable Guitars pt 23 – Fender Coronado

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09The Coronado was a thinline hollow bodied guitar made by Fender from 1966 to 1972. It was designed by former Rickenbacker designer Roger Rossmeisl, who would later design other guitars for Fender.

The Coronado came in three models- the Coronado I with only one pickup at the neck, the II with two pickups and the XII, which was a 12 string variant. Pickups used were made by DeArmond.

Fender Coronado Guitar Wildwood FinishThe Coronado II and XII were also available in the desirable “Wildwood” finish, which was an attractively coloured patterned natural grain, made by injecting dyes into growing trees a few years before harvest. There were three shades of Wildwood available on the guitars- Rainbow Green, Rainbow Blue and Rainbow Gold. The bodies were made of maple, and unusually for a semi, the neck was bolted on.

The Coronado was unsuccessful, with the target audience, jazz players, rejecting it for the use of the traditional Fender headstock and the large amount of feedback from the hollow body and single coil pickups.

Traditional Fender players thought the Coronado wasn’t enough of a “real” Fender, and the guitar was a flop.

Examples now sell for upwards of £700 in most places.

You can read about the history of Fender guitars here

The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat

I found an interesting book on the Fender Stratocaster, by Tom Wheeler of Guitar Player Magazine.

The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat

stratocaster chronicles

The world’s most famous guitar has a golden anniversary in 2004 and this official, authorised book/CD package offers the best photos, quotes, facts and sounds to properly celebrate this achievement. From Buddy Holly to Jimi Hendrix to today’s hottest players, the Fender Stratocaster defines rock ‘n’ roll for generations of fans and players. A foreword by Eric Clapton. Exclusive photos from the world’s greatest guitar collection. A CD with musical examples of famous Strat sounds and styles – even spoken excerpts from the author’s interviews with the Strat’s beloved inventor, Leo Fender.

And in the words of one Amazon reviewer, “The best Fender Strat book yet”

Alan Rogan Interview

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091Alan Rogan, legendary guitar technician with The Who and the Rolling Stones, talks about his work and guitars. Guitar tech to rock royalty for decades, Alan talks about his long stint with Who guitar legend Pete Townshend, and explains why Pete’s custom-modded Fender Stratocaster® guitar and Vibro-King® amp are “the real thing” …

Vintage Fender Colours

Fender 1960's Guitar Coloursicontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091Just a quickie..I found Curtis Novak’s  great site with a wonderful pictorial view of vintage Fender colours.

Even if you aren’t interested in the colours, it’s worth having a look for the lovely photography.

In Curtis’ own words…

These are pictures of my sample blocks of Fender 60’s colors. I attempted to create as accurate as possible a representation of the colors Fender used in the 60’s. I used Dupont paint and the colors are mixed from the NOS Dupont paint mix numbers. They are cleared with Nitrocellulose Lacquer.

I have photographed my sample blocks in a way that attempts to show the dynamics of a given color rather than just a flat thumbnail image. I feel this better represents the color. I am still working at making the colors more accurate. Keep in mind that I am doing this and testing it on a few dozen different computers and they are rather consistent, but the color may very depending on your display and video card.

Fender 1960’s Custom Colours

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.


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.

A book worth investigating…

Just been reading about the updated version of Phil Taylor’s book about David Gilmour’s iconic black Stratocaster…

“The Black Strat” is the first and only accurate and knowledgeable account of David Gilmour’s favourite Stratocaster guitar. Written by Phil Taylor – David’s personal guitar technician since 1974 – to coincide with the release of the long awaited and much requested Fender ‘David Gilmour Signature Strat’: an instrument replicating the look, set-up, sound and feel of David’s famous guitar as it is today. The chronological story begins with David Gilmour joining Pink Floyd early in 1968, his guitar at that time, his subsequent instruments leading to the purchase of the Black Strat in 1970, and the other guitars that have come and gone. This book details all of the changes and modifications made to the Black Strat, its use on Pink Floyd tours and iconic albums, David’s solo projects, and various guest appearances throughout the years. 

About the Author

Phil Taylor (London) has been working for Pink Floyd continuously since he was 22 years of age. In 1974 he was employed by Pink Floyd to take care of the band’s personal equipment used on stage and in the studio. He has worked on every Pink Floyd and David Gilmour project for over three decades.

This book is a great gift or alternative for those of us who can’t afford the two and a half grand for the new Fender  signature replica!

Take a closer look at the book in the link..

Pink Floyd: the Black Strat: A History of David Gilmour’s Black Fender Stratocaster