Could the Fender Performer by the last real original design from Fender before they decided instead to produce a myriad of subtle variations of the same vintage designs?
The Perfomer was produced for only one year between 1985-1986 by Fender Japan during that strange period in Fender's history in which there was no USA guitar production happening.
The Performer was originally designed as a bass (the guitar came later) by John Page, who has commented that the original intention was that it would be an Elite version of the Jazz Bass! The angular body shape was in fact inspired by the Fender Strat - flip one over and note the shape that the flat surface makes.
The guitar does look like an after-thought, it must be said. The small-ish body and 24-fret neck mean that there's a smaller than usual space in which to accommodate the two humbuckers - added to which the offset slanted design of the pickups themselves mean that they end up being positioned very closely together. However, a coil-tap does mean that at the touch of a button this guitar can go from fat humbucker tones to a crisp sharp Strat-like sound.
Other interesting features include the rubber grips on the volume and tone controls, and the Swinger-esque headstock shape.
A forgotten Fender classic? Possibly. Examples have been selling on eBay for $1000 and upwards.
(Pictured above: Fender Performer guitar and Fender Performer bass both in auctions about to finish on eBay very soon! There is also a sunburst example of the guitar for sale in the UK at a not unreasonable price of £599.)
G L Wilson
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