Japanese guitar makers first showed their guitar building prowess in the 50s and 60s with guitars that were high quality and inexpensive compared to their American counterparts. The guitars were either brilliantly made replicas of well-known brands or unique and oddball creations from brands like Teisco.
Their reputation for building fantastic instruments received a firm endorsement when Fender decided to move production of their guitars to Japan. Fender Japan started out in 1982 as a joint venture between the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation and two of the largest musical instrument distributors in Japan. Since their inception, Japanese made Fenders have taken the market by storm, with many owners acknowledging the build quality of these instruments.
Here are 6 very special Fender Japan models, from signature to FSR (Fender Special Run) models, that are getting us excited.
In case you’re wondering what an FSR model is, it stands for “Fender Special Run”. They are instruments specially commissioned by individual dealers and built to their specifications and are usually limited in numbers. They’re not regular production models and you’ll often come across instruments with finishes and details that are hard to find elsewhere, just like this FSR 50s Stratocaster.
The 50s style Stratocaster delivers the classic strat sound, and an eye-catching look with its “competition” stripe – a nice nod to hot rod cars that were popular in the 50s.
Lead guitarist of Japanese rock band, Fujifabric Sōichirō Yamauchi takes his guitars seriously. And when he got together with Fender Japan to develop his own personal signature guitar, the result was a 1962-inspired Stratocaster in a period correct Fiesta Red finish and mint green pickguard. Powered by three Custom Shop Fat ’50s Single-Coil pickups, Sōichirō’s signature will churn out classic, bell-like tones you’d expect from a vintage-esque Stratocaster.
The all-female Japanese band SCANDAL has been rocking out since 2006. This gorgeous example of a Precision bass is the signature model of bassist Tomomi and it sports a natural finish with a red tortoiseshell pickguard.
The rest of her bandmates have their own signature Fender Japan models too. The Haruna Signature model is an elegant white and gold Telecaster and the Mami Signature model is a striking Stratocaster in red and gold. The impressive lineup has seen action at the band’s live shows as well as their music video for “Koisuru Universe”.
Fender’s first foray into 12-string electric guitars began with the Electric XII. Though its existence was short lived, it got catapulted to infamy when Jimmy Page used it to record the beautifully arpeggiated 12-string parts in “Stairway to Heaven”. The Electric XII was discontinued in 1969, but the Stratocaster XII took over the baton during the modern era. The first ever model was made in Japan in 1988. The 12-string electric models can be elusive, falling in and out of Fender’s guitar lineup since its introduction.
With a gloss jet black finish, dark rosewood neck and gold hardware, this Telecaster is the guitar equivalent of a tuxedo. Despite its classy and refined looks, the trademark ashtray bridge and vintage Telecaster single coil pickups mean it can get raw, unruly and twangy when you want it to.
Fender Japan’s take on the popular Mustang shape is one of simplicity and bare-bones efficiency, just like the original Mustang back in 1964. you get a pair of angled single-coil pickups, “Dynamic” Vibrato tailpiece and the familiar 24” scale length. The large matching headstock is a nice throwback to the Fenders of the 70s. And the beautiful California Blue finish? That’s a Fender Japan exclusive colour.
Swee Lee now stocks a fine collection of Fender Japan instruments. Available in special and limited finishes and configurations you won’t find elsewhere, these popular instruments will go fast! Check out our range here, or head down to our flagship store at The Star Vista to give them a try.