Tag: Stratocaster

1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtailFender Stratocaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1979

Yesterday I sold my 1979 Fender Stratocaster, which felt a bit sad. I’ve had the guitar up for sale for two years so it was no surprise that sooner or later she would leave me. Then again, when it actually happened I missed her a bit. Well guitars comes and goes, that’s the circle of life and she needed to make room for her sister, my new 1978 Fender Telecaster. Last Sunday I got to use the Stratocaster one last time when we had a gig with the Claes Anderson Band. It sounded great, really twangy even through my solid state Levin amp from the 1990’s.

Claes Anderson Band – Tell my tale when I am gone, Legends Dance Hall in Terrassa 14th May 2017

Tacoma Stratocaster

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sTacoma Stratocaster, made in Japan in the late 1970’s

I haven’t paid much attention to electric guitars lately but then I saw this beautiful looking Tacoma Stratocaster and I couldn’t resist. I actually had a natural wood coloured Japanese Westone Strat that I really liked but sold last year since the neck profile was a bit too flat for my liking. This Tacoma has a neck profile right up there with my Tokai Silver Star SS-36 and my Fender Stratocaster, both made in 1979. I got confused when I bought this Tacoma, the auction was ending and I didn’t have time to do my research. I really thought that Tacoma had something to do with Tama for some reason, but apparently not. The only thing related to Tacoma that I have found so far is that Wutzdog guitars in Germany has two Strats from the mid 1970’s for sale and neither match mine. Mine has a fancy pants real inlay logo on the headstock while theirs have printed logos but then at least one of theirs have grey bottom pickups which I wished mine had too, my Tokai Silver Star SS-36 has that and they sound awesome. This Tacoma has some weird looking brass plate in the bottom but that might good too, I haven’t had time to play this properly through my Fender amp yet. Either way I really like this guitar and the neck is just a pure joy to play.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sTacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sI assume the guitar is from the late 1970’s considering the big head and feel of it, but who knows, they might have made Fender copies in the early 1980’s too. There is an American guitar company called Tacoma but I doubt that they have anything to do with these old Japan made guitars. If anyone knows anything about Tacoma then please get in touch.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sThe wood is in great shape and it has a nice weight to it. This is the first time I’ve seen single coils with those heavy brass plates.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970's pickupsAfter a bit of research I’ve come to think that perhaps my Tacoma was made by FujiGen. The guitar on the left is a Yamaha Super r’n Roller SR-400 and what I gathered they were made by FujiGen in the 1970’s. The guitar in the middle is an early 1970’s Matsumoku built Univox Strat. On the right we have my Tacoma and even though all three looks very similar I still think that the Tacoma and the Yamaha has the most in common.


1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtailFender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
Fender Stratocaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1979

This weekend I restored my 1979 Fender Stratocaster to it’s original state. One pot has been changed at some point and I needed to put in a new 5 ways switch but the rest seems to be all original. Well the middle pickup is a bit of a mystery, I’m not sure if it’s a Fender pickup or if it’s something completely different, either way it sounds awesome. It has staggered pole pieces, something that Fender stopped with in the mid 1970’s so I would say that it’s either an older Fender or a newer Japanese pickup. I really like the look of the guitar now, a classic late 1970’s 3 tone sunburst hardtail Fender Stratocaster. The guitar is for sale here.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
First I had to check that the original pickups even worked. After getting pretty strong readings I decided to install them, now I knew in which order to put them too since they weren’t marked with neck, middle and bridge.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
I filled the old holes from the gold Gotoh machine heads with a tooth pick and normal wood glue, it worked really well. When I removed the terrible shielding job that was done before I could for the first time see the serial number, this body was made on a Monday in the 5th week of 1979. The neck is from 1978 which makes sense if it was put together early the following year. I have to go through the soldering again though, there is something that isn’t right. I noticed when I had put it back together that there something wrong with the middle pickup, it sounded like a wah wah stuck in one position. Well first thing I realised was that the switch was the wrong way around so that has been flipped now, then after a lot of detective work I figured out what was wrong. The middle pickups wires was the other way around, the white was the ground and the black was going to the switch. There was also an extra capacitor on the second tone pot that I had to remove. Now everything works perfectly and it sounds awesome, I really love this guitar. Thanks again to Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters for all the useful information.

1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
Fender Stratocaster, made at the Fullerton plant in 1979

I have always loved the 1970’s Fenders with the classic 3-tone sunburst. I guess it started when I first picked up the guitar and fell in love with the big headed Strats but nowadays I’m probably more in to Telecasters, even though they are way to expensive and hard to find. That was the main reason why I put my Claescaster together, to have a Telecaster that looked like late 1970’s Fender but for a lot less money. I actually bought a Tokai Silver Star back in October for the same reason, that I’m completely gay for 1970’s Fender 3-tone sunburst. So when I was down south for Christmas and walked past a small guitar shop in Lorca and saw a 1979 Fender Stratocaster in the window I couldn’t resist. It was the only second hand guitar they had in the whole shop, vintage guitars are really tricky business in the south of Spain since people aren’t really used to pay more money for something old when they can get something brand new for less. The price was ok and I could even live with 1980’s looking Seymour Duncan hot rails, switches and all, and since I really like gold hardware that wasn’t an issue either. The problem was, is it real, is it a US made Fender Stratocaster from the late 1970’s? The man in the shop said yes, the serial number on the head starts with S8, that is 1978, and it says made in the USA under, what more do you need to know? I tried to explain that there are a few other numbers on an old Fender that you have to check to be sure, and that the decal on the head is very easy to fake and stick on yourself. The man would hear none of this, he was sure he knew more about old guitars that this weird foreigner that had just walked in to his shop, on top of that, he really trusted the guy that he was selling it for. I said I had to think about it and left. I went home and started to read everything I could find about late 1970’s Fenders and found this site, Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters, extremely helpful.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail

I spent the whole Christmas just thinking about the guitar, was it worth it even if I couldn’t know for sure that it was made in 1978, or if it was even a real Fender? On the morning of the 26th we got the seller to travel in to the guitar shop with the original pickups, that was my first demand, if I saw them then hopefully I would be convinced that it was real. When we arrived to the shop the guitar was still there in the window and I was presented with a shoebox with all the original hardware, machine heads, bridge and pickups. I felt fairly sure that it was the real deal, I mean who would bother to bring in a box with old Fender stamped hardware for a fake guitar? I asked one last time if the old man in the shop had any proof that the guitar was real and he got really annoyed, saying that I could either take it or leave it. I managed to calm him down and explained that it would be a fairly common procedure to take the neck off if you sell old Fenders, or at least show the bottom of the pickguard, especially since there are a few questionable late 1970’s Fenders circulating in Spain that I’m 99% sure weren’t made at the Fullerton plant in the USA. The man just kept saying that it says USA on the head, that means it’s not made in Mexico, I had to explain that they didn’t start to make Fenders in Mexico until 10 years later, after the Fullerton plant had closed down and Fender had moved to Corona. He wasn’t convinced, and neither was I, but after seeing the pickups which pointed at 1979 and seeing the original hardcase which is the type Fender introduced in 1979 I felt that it was close enough, and bought it. I’m glad I did because as soon as I returned to Barcelona and I could take the guitar apart I found the proof needed. Even though I really like this guitar I have it listed for sale if anyone is interested in buying it.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail Ideally I would have liked to find a few more stamps in the neck pocket but they have either been sprayed over or there used to be a sticker that have fallen off. The neck has a serial number on the end that points at 1978 so together with the S8 serial on the head I guess it was made in 1978. The serial number under the pickguard points at 1979, just like the original pickups. The pots are unfortunately the general CTS pots that can’t be traced and the body has been shielded, which I didn’t want to remove, so I couldn’t find any numbers there. The matching stamp on the heel and neck pocket is the quality stamp Fender used in the late 1970’s. The Seymour Duncan pickups sounds way better than I expected, a bit too hot for more liking perhaps but still pretty nice. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep it like this for a while or return it to it’s former glory with it’s original pickups and hardware.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail Fender had grey bottom pickups up until 1979 and then introduced black bottoms without serial numbers in 1980. I’m not sure if the bridge pickup is from 1980 and the others from 1979 or if it has been changed sometime in the last 35 years. The 3 screws neck plate and the saddles has the correct numbers and they machine heads looks like they should too. The original hardcase is actually way lighter and easier to carry than I expected, it has grown on me even if it looks a bit plastic and 1980’s for my normal taste. My first guitar was a Japan made 1993 Fender Squier with a rosewood fretboard and even though I prefer maple fretboards these days, there is something quite nice about a rosewood Strat. I also really like that it’s a hardtail, I never use the tremolo so I prefer a hardtail any day of the week, they feel more like a Telecaster too. All in all, this was not only my first USA made instrument but a pretty awesome guitar on it’s own that made me fall in love with Stratocasters again. Thanks again to Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters for all the useful information.

Westone, Made in Japan

 Westone Stratocaster Made in Japan, Matsumoku 1979
Westone Stratocaster copy, made in Japan by Matsumoku in 1979

This weekend my Westone Stratocaster found a new owner. It felt kind of sad, I don’t normally miss guitars that I sell, well that’s I lie, I have missed all of the guitars I’ve sold but normally not this much. Oh well, I needed to make room for my new Tokai Silver Star SS-36 so it had to go. I have had two Westone guitars, a Strat and a Les Paul copy and I really liked both of them. Westone built Fender and Gibson copies in the late 1970’s before they started on their own heavy metal influenced creations of the 1980’s that owned the brand it’s name. You can read more about the brand Westone here. I have to say that the quality was pretty good for being a less known brand from the Matsumoku factory. I’ve always claimed that FujiGen was better than Matsumoku but I start to think that might have been more about when and not so much where. There was a huge change in Japanese guitars around 1975, not just the quality but perhaps more about how well they managed to copy the big American brands.Therfor a Greco guitar from 1978 would be better built than one from 1972, not just because the first was made by FujiGen but because it was made after 1975. You can read more about in my earlier post, Are all Japanese guitars good? I think what I would miss most of the Westone Strat is the Sen ash body, the wood was amazing and without any doubt the heaviest and most solid Strat I have ever seen with a fantastic sustain. The pickups were pretty great too, not Grey Bobbin pickups like on my Tokai Silver Star SS-36, but still, pretty sweet sounding. The pickups were pretty great in the Westone Les Paul too, maybe there was something special about these late 1970’s Matsumoku built Westone guitars.

Westone Les Paul, Made in Japan, Matsumoku 1970's
Westone Les Paul copy, made in Japan by Matsumoku in 1970’s

Matsumoku is one of the Japanese manufacturers that did not survive long after the heyday of the 1970’s guitar market despite having a long tradition of quality stringed instrument craftsmanship. Matsumoku produced guitars for major manufacturers Greco, Guyatone and Yamaha. Matsumoku made Arai, Aria, Aria Pro II and Aria Diamond badges, with Aria being their primary badge for a majority of this time frame. Badged guitars known to have been made by Matsumoku include Apollo, Arita, Barclay, Burny, Capri, Columbus, Conrad, Cortez (electrics only), Country, Cutler, Dia, Domino, Electra, Epiphone, Granada, Hi Lo, Howard, Ibanez, Lindberg, Lyle, Luxor, Maxitone (this guitar differs from Tama’s Maxitone badge), Mayfair, Memphis, Montclair, Pan, Pearl (electrics only), Raven, Stewart, Tempo, Univox ,Vantage, Ventura, Vision, Volhox, Washburn (in 1979 and 1980), Westbury, Westminster and Westone. Possible Matsumoku badges include: Bruno, Crestwood, Conqueror, Eros, Mako, Memphis, Orlando and Toledo. Taken from my previous post about Japanese guitar brands

Tokai Silver Star SS-36

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979
Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979

When arrived to the office on Monday morning I noticed that Yuma, one of the eBay sellers that I follow from Japan, had added a new guitar, a 1979 Tokai Silver Star SS-36. I’ve always admired, well admired is not strong enough, I’ve always been totally gay for the 3-tone sunburst that Fender used in 1970’s. I even built the Claescaster because of this, since I couldn’t find a Telecaster with the right colour I decided to assemble one myself. For the past two years I’ve been looking at different Japanese big headed Stratocasters with the 3-tone 1970’s sunburst and black pickguard and was pretty convinced that a Greco SE-500 would be my next electric guitar or perhaps a late Seventies Fernandes Burny but they never seemed to have necks that were fat enough. I was in touch with a couple of the Japanese sellers and asked which brand had the fattest neck and got this reply, none. One seller explained that most Japanese guitars have fairly flat necks since the Japanese have small hands, which sounded a bit racist but whatever the reason is, most Japan made guitars had soft profiled necks up until now. I’ve played a couple of Crafted in Japan Fenders with great V-profile but that’s just in the last couple of years, none of the Japanese guitars that I’ve tried from 1970-80’s has had any baseball bat necks. This was a beautiful looking Tokai Silver Star with great grain showing through the 3-tone sunburst. I asked the seller about the neck and he replied that it wasn’t super fat, more of a soft U-profile, well that sounded close enough to me. The truth is that I’ve really missed the sound of the Fernandes RST-50 ’57 that I had for a short while. The Grey Bobbin pickups just sounded so amazingly good but I could never really come to terms with the small head or the fact that the guitar was black. Eric Clapton’s Blackie in all honour but they look pretty bland and boring to me, I like wood coloured or 3-tone sunburst guitars. My head started to think, well what could be better than Greco’s Maxon pickups, well the Ferndandes grey bobbin pickups, any day. Who was making Fernades in the late Seventies, well Tokai. Does that mean that this Tokai Silver Star will have some form of similar pickups? I tried to do some research but before I had even come to any conclusion I was the happy owner of a 1979 Tokai Silver Star SS-36. It was a Monday morning, I was a bit hungover, most of my guitar purchases has been made in that state, or perhaps when I’m drunk. I tend to be really concerned about money, I like to plan ahead, save for a rainy day, and then suddenly I sit there in front of the computer drunk or hungover without any filters whatsoever and just thinking GAS, GAS, GAS.

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979
Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979

To be honest I didn’t know that much about Tokai, a part of me has always classed it like Ibanez, kind of bellow Greco in terms of quality. Then again, I can’t really say that I have felt a huge difference in quality between the Fender Japan made by FujiGen or the ones by Tokai, but everyone seems to prefer the Made in Japan to the later Tokai built Crafted in Japan. I have a 1991 Tokai Love Rock LS-55 Les Paul copy that is awesome but that doesn’t mean that an entry level Strat from 1979 would be equally good, but luckily it was. The Tokai Silver Strat SS-36 was the cheapest in the line of the late Seventies Fender copies that Tokai made but I think the main difference between the top and the bottom was if they had 3 or 4 screws bolt-on-necks, how many pieces of wood was used for the bodies and the quality of machine heads and hardware, and less about the pickups. Or perhaps these are the shittiest pickups Tokai produced and they still sound awesome.

Tokai (Tōkai Gakki)
Tōkai Gakki was founded in 1947 and is based in Hamamatsu, Japan. Tokai began production of acoustic guitars in 1965 and by 1968 was producing electric guitars for the American market. Tokai still exists as guitar manufacturer. Tokai made guitars for Fernandes, Mosrite and Fender Japan. Tokai badged guitars included the house brand Tokai as well as Cat’s Eyes, Conrad, Drifter, Hondo, Love Rock, Mosrite, Sigma and Silver Star. Possible badges include Artist Ltd., Gaban, Gallan, Gession and Robin. It’s suggested that Tokai made Hummingbird acoustics as well, but if these were related to those made by Humming Bird I haven’t quite sorted out yet. Taken from my previous post about Japanese guitar brands

Fender replicas were started in 1977 officially. These were great guitars too. Using good quality wooden material with great craft man ship. “Springy Sound” Stratocaster replicas and the “Breezy Sound” Telecaster replicas are superior to the original Fender. Tokai has own factory and has built guitars for many famous known brands such as Fernandes and Fender Japan. For that mean, Tokai is only one original electric guitar manufacturer in Japan. (Note: Fender Japan used many sub constructors such as Fujigen, Dyna, Tokai, and Terada. The JV and E serial were made by Fujigen. Tokai made has “Made in Japan” under serial number in cursive handwriting). Taken from Music-Trade Japan

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979
The guitar has a really nice soft U-shaped 1-piece maple neck with a nut width of just 40.6 mm, which didn’t feel that different to me. The body is 4 pieces Sen (Japanese ash) with poly lacquer in the classic 1970’s Fender 3-tone sunburst, which I truly love. I’m not sure if the pickups are similar to the L-5000 Vintage Arched PP Grey Bobbin pickups that the Fernandes RST-50 ’57 had or just some other grey bottom pickups. I tried to find some more information about them but they are just refereed to as grey bottom Tokai PU at Music-Trade Japan. Tokai Was building Fernandes at this time so I assume they would have used similar pickups for both. Either way, I love the pickups in this Tokai and it sounds almost as good as the Fernades did. I added an extra spring to the tremolo block since I never use the wammy bar and prefer a more solid hardtail feel, just like a real late 1970’s Fender Stratocaster.

I will try to get a new video up soon where I play a bit louder so you can hear the pickups properly, I was worried about the neighbours, and ideally play a bit better.

Well here it is, I might not play any better, but at least it is a more of it. I changed the string to 010, always Ernie Ball Regular Slinky, raised the action and fitted a 4th spring to the tremolo. Not sure what difference it made sound vice but it made it felt better to me playing.



Photo of the day


Gered Mankowitz, Jimi Hendrix "Smoking" taken in early 1967 in Gered's Masons Yard studio in London, © Bowstir Ltd
Gered Mankowitz, Jimi Hendrix “Smoking” taken in early 1967 in Gered’s Masons Yard studio in London, © Bowstir Ltd

Jimi Hendrix past away on this day 44 years ago. If it wasn’t for this awesome guy, I might never had fallen in love with the guitar or dress the way I do, he was a huge influence 20 years ago when I started playing. Earlier Hendrix posts, Guitar of the day and Guitar of the day

Fernandes RST-50 ’57

Fernandes The Revival 57 Stratocaster
Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster Made in Japan, 1988
I just realised that the Fernandes that I sold back in July is on the market again. If anyone needs a Strat, a proper “Blackie”, I could highly recommend this one. Here is the ad at Guitarristas

Guitar of the day

Rory Gallagher's 1961 Fender Stratocaster

Rory Gallagher’s 1961 Fender Stratocaster with the serial number of 64351. Bought on credit from Crowley’s Music Store in Cork in 1963 for £100, this is the guitar that formed the bedrock of Rory’s sound and became synonymous with the bluesman. It was also possibly the first Fender Stratocaster to reach Ireland. Almost all of the original finish is gone, due to the heavy use, and a medical condition that caused Rory’s sweat to be acidic, which would wear away the thin nitro finish.

Rory Gallagher's 1961 Fender StratocasterRory Gallagher's 1961 Fender StratocasterRory Gallagher's 1961 Fender Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster
Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster
Made in Japan, 1988

We were up in Vitoria last weekend for the Azkena rock festival, I had to see The Black Crowes, and I managed to find this little beauty in a Cash converter. It’s a Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster made in Japan probably in 1988. It’s a bit of detective work left to do, I’m still not sure if these were made in the FujiGen or the Tokai factory. It’s most likely made in 1988, well if you can trust Guitar world crazy in Japan, but he seems to know his stuff. The number on the back plate has nothing to do with the year but the first digit of the number stamped on the neck seems to indicate the production year, at least during the 1980’s. Mine has #Y80801 and ’57 stamped and the heal so that should be a Fernades RST-50 ’57 Strat from 1988. However, this guy on eBay claims that Fernandes changed from the proper Fender head to a sharpier head in 1986. He claims that mine should have been made between 1982-85 since it has “Electric Sound Research Group” under the Fernandes The Revival logo on the headstock. I think I’ll go with the Guitar world crazy guy, he seems to know a thing or two. We can be pretty sure that the material is the following, both Guitar world crazy and Music-Trade Japan says the same. The RST-50 ’57 were made between 1981-90, came with Revival Logo, had a 3-piece alder body a Small head and a 1-piece maple neck, poly lacquer, L-5000 Vintage Arched PP Gray Bobbin pickups, separate Diecast & FSRG Press saddle. However, then it says that from 1984 the pickups changed to VS-2 and the saddle to non press marked which is weird since mine clearly has “Revival F.S.R.G” stamped on them. It has quite a lot of fret wear but since the neck felt so amazing I couldn’t resist. Now I finally have an awesome “Blackie” copy so you all can call me Claes Clapton from now on.

Update 2013-07-06
Fernandes have found a new dad. She got adopted this Saturday by a lovely sound engineer, that happened to live two streets away from me, so she could be the jewel in his growing collection of Japanese guitars. I wish the best to both of you.

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster