Posts Tagged ‘Fender Guitars’

Earlier this week, Fender proudly announced the release of its new Brad Paisley Signature Telecaster  But lucky for all of us, that isn’t the only new signature model joining its line.

Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien collaborates with Fender for signature guitar

Fender has also partnered with Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien to launch the new EOB Sustainer Stratocaster. But instead of a signature stamp, the neck plate is engraved with a custom “Flower of Life” design.

Launching the EOB Sustainer Stratocaster, O’Brien has added a Seymour Duncan JB Jr humbucker in the bridge, vintage synchronised tremolo bridge along with vintage-style tuning machines with a Texas Special single coil in the middle and Fernandes Sustainer in the neck.

Set to launch on November 14th for a cool £949, the O’Brien EOB Sustainer Stratocaster signifies the first piece of Radiohead signature gear to be created.

According to an official statement, the guitar’s neck plate is engraved with a custom “Flower of Life” design instead of a signature stamp and Fernandes Sustainer  a “uniquely designed electronic system that enables the controlled sustain of any single or group of notes within the guitar’s sound range.”

Ed O’Brien Sustainer Stratocaster

The guitar features a Seymour Duncan JB Jr humbucker at the bridge, a Texas Special single–coil in the middle, and a Fernandes Sustainer (the guitar’s namesake) in the neck. The guitar’s “infinite sustain” is controlled by an on/off switch, an intensity knob, and a three–position switch — fundamental only, harmonic only, or blend.

Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster

It’s also equipped with vintage–style appointments, like a synchronized tremolo bridge and tuning machines. This is the first time Fender has collaborated with a member of the beloved English band, so we’re excited to hear the Sustainer in action. It will retail for $1,099.99.

George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster

Also announced on the floor are three more Fender signature models: the Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster ($899.99), the George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster($2,499.99),

This year, The Fender Custom Shop turns 30.

To celebrate the legendary shop that has built guitars for the likes of Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, The Stones, Jimmy Page and Bob Dylan, director Ross Haines has made a short documentary dedicated to the ‘nirvana for guitar lovers’.

The Dream Factory was born after Ross entered the Fender shop for the first time while scouting for another shoot. “When we walked in we were blown away. It’s just an incredible wonderland of vintage machines and hard-working craftsman doing what they’ve been doing for decades. Any photographer or filmmaker would have a field day in that place. After seeing the Custom Shop, the elite shop within Fender which is pretty much the Holy Grail of guitar making, I was super inspired to tell a deeper story about some aspect of the space. From there, the creative director, Nate Morley, and I brainstormed this concept and as timing would have it, it just so happened to be the 30th Anniversary of the Custom Shop.”

To tell the tale, Ross mixed previously unseen VHS archival footage from the early days and recent conversations with the eight original master builders. Though the film covers a lot in ten minutes, surely there were some wild stories that didn’t make the cut. Ross confirms there were plenty, but Michael Steven’s story takes the cake. “One of the best stories belongs to Michael Stevens, the very first employee of the Custom Shop. He was working on a new project for Eric Clapton. Michael is a real cowboy, Texas bred, and no bullshit dude. Both were getting a bit frustrated because a detail of the neck wasn’t quite perfect and they were having trouble getting in touch with each other to figure out why—this is pre-internet or cell phones, obviously.

So eventually Clapton sent his guitar to the custom shop. This is not just any guitar, this is the famous “Blackie” a priceless piece of rock history. Clapton played “Blackie” almost exclusively on stage and in the studio from 1974-1985, recording songs like “Cocaine” and “Layla”. So for two weeks, Michael slept with Blackie under his bed and a gun under his pillow. In his words, “I didn’t want my tombstone to read, ‘Here lies the man who lost Blackie’.” Luckily no one tried to steal Blackie and Clapton loved the guitar they made for him.

Guitars are pretty personal things, and everyone has their favourites. For Ross, his all time favourite is guitar 001, Fender’s first double neck, which you can see in all its glory in the film.

OBSCURE FENDER GUITARS –

Posted: June 21, 2016 in Guitars
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Tele, Strat, P-Bass, J-Bass, Jag . . . instruments so ubiquitous that we forget these are not their actual names. Each has its own distinctive sounds, its own look, its own luminous history and its parade of inspired players who have used it to create some of the most popular music ever, sometimes even completely transforming pop culture in the process. Fender guitars and basses have become so iconic that it is difficult to imagine how the last 60 or 70 years might have sounded without them.

But, while not every Fender instrument has inspired this same level of success, many relatively obscure Fender guitars do have their fans. These fans may be adventurous musicians looking for a quality instrument that is different enough to create a unique sound, or they may be beginning guitarists on a budget, or a collector in search of a lost gem whose quality outshines its fame. Or maybe, a thrift store romantic who embodies all three of these and simply has a good eye, and a good ear, for the forgotten masterpieces.

Then there are those truly obscure instruments unknown to all but a dedicated few. Often, these were quirky experiments, expedient hybrids, odd designs that would never be manufactured in large enough numbers, or pieces never marketed properly to get the attention they deserved. For one reason or another, these were guitars that never had a chance to become iconic. Let’s take a look at a few.

The Fender Swinger was one of the quirkiest and most obscure guitars ever to come out of the factory. It was introduced in 1969 as a way to make use of spare parts left over from the unsuccessful Fender Bass V. and the “student” model Fender Musicmaster. Only 250 to 600 were ever assembled and they were virtually unmarketed, never appearing in any of Fender’s catalogs or literature. The “Swinger” decal seems to have been an afterthought, applied, if at all, over the finish on the headstock. Most began to peel off within a few years, so very few have any kind of indication as to what model of guitar they are. More often than not, those who found a Swinger had no idea what to call it and often informally referred to it as the Fender Arrow, presumably after the pointy arrow-shaped headstock. The Swinger featured a 22.5-inch scale length, an almost randomly contoured body design, one single-coil pickup near the neck, and a bridge and control plate design borrowed from The Fender Bass V. Dating these guitars would seem to be a difficult task, since they are assembled entirely from older parts, but they were only made for a brief period, so every Fender Swinger is a vintage 1969. As rare as they are, musicians as different as Jimmy Page and the Talking Heads’s Tina Weymouth have taken them to the stage.

Also released in a brief 1969 run, the Fender Maverick was another attempt to clear out old factory stock that met with limited success. Essentially a 12-string Fender Electric XII, modified to be a six string guitar, the Maverick featured the same elongated headstock as the XII. The holes for the six tuning pegs were widely spaced, and headstocks that had already been drilled for 12-holes had the extra six holes plugged and refinished with a concealing veneer. The body had a slightly different design than the XII, but the neck, split P-Bass style pickups and hardware were often directly lifted from the 12-string model, and the bridge was borrowed from the Fender Mustang. Very few Mavericks were made and they never sold well.

The Fender Electric XII (from which the Maverick is derived) was designed from the ground-up to be a 12-string electric guitar. It features split P-Bass style pickups, four-way switching, and individual bridge saddles for each of its strings. It is neither particularly rare nor is it common, having had a limited amount of success during its five-year run from 1965 to 1970. However, it does have its own distinctive sound that has contributed to many more influential records than one might expect. It was featured most prominently on The Who’s Tommy and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” as well as records by The Velvet Underground, Cream, Caravan, and Tom Petty.

The Fender Performer was introduced in 1985 in an attempt to compete with the edgier, angular styles that were growing in popularity among heavy metal guitarists. The one-year run was made entirely in Japan, at a time when the U.S. manufacture of Fender guitars was at an all-time low. It is rumored that the design of the body and headstock was inspired by the contours of the scraps left over from the manufacture of Japanese Stratocasters, and the angular “horns” that form the cutaways are modeled after the flat part on the back of a Strat. The Performer offered some outstanding features like custom offset humbuckers with a coil-tapping switch, sealed tuners, 24 frets and a locking tremolo system. Despite the limited success of its short run, the Performer has since been recognized by collectors as a high quality guitar, with an elevated price to match its quality.

 

Of course, there are many other Fender guitars that have never achieved iconic status but were in production long enough to be reasonably available, and earn their own deeply loyal following. The original Fender Starcaster was a semi-hollowbody in production from 1975 to 1982. It features an offset ES-335-style body and a pair of humbuckers. It has become somewhat better known as a favorite of Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

The Fender Duo-Sonic was a “student” guitar introduced in 1956. It remained in production—with a few upgrades and remodels—until 1969 when it gave way to the much more popular Mustang. The Duo Sonic featured a short 22.5-inch scale length, two single coil pickups and a fixed bridge. Despite its intentionally low-cost construction, the Duo-Sonic proved to be a very playable guitar with great sound that has earned a coveted place among collector and artists as diverse as David Byrne, Bill Frisell, John Mclaughlin, Liz Phair, and Rory Gallagher.

Keep your eyes and ears open and you might find one of these undiscovered treasures. Recognize them for the hidden gems they are and pay whatever underestimated price the owner is likely to ask. Chances are, you’ll have bought a guitar that will continue to surprise you with its quality, its quirky charms and its singular sound and feel.