Two 1972 Jansen Invader guitars - which would appear to be not very accurate Stratocaster knock-offs and rather knocked about at that - for HOW MUCH? $12,200.00? That's over $6,000 each! Is this another case of a highly optimistic eBay seller?
What do we know about these guitars? Well, they were obviously deemed of enough importance for an example to be included in the Museum of New Zealand. The museum website tells us that:
In the 1960s, many kiwi pop guitarists owned one of these – a Jansen electric guitar. Jansens were the first solid-body electric guitars to be mass-produced in this country, and they became firm favourites with our musicians.So, they might be collectors' items, but do they warrant the price tag we see here? Personally, I rather like the concept behind the design. It's obviously modelled after a Fender Stratocaster but has a couple of features seemingly lifted from the Jazzmaster including the bridge and tremolo, and the individual pickup selector switches (surely more logical than Fender's 5-way switch). As someone who likes Strats but has never liked nor gotten on with the traditional Fender Strat tremolo, the Invader does appeal. But at these prices, I'm not going to be trying out one any time soon.
Their Invader model, made in 1964 and based on the famous Fender Stratocaster, was a huge success. It was named after local hit band Ray Columbus and the Invaders. For several years in New Zealand, this was the guitar to have. It outsold not only the Stratocaster but all other imported brands.
Although Jansen guitars were often modelled on overseas examples, the company introduced many of their own innovations, especially in the design of the pick-up.
Already noted for their innovative pick-up design, Jansen staff put a lot of effort into studying ‘waveforms’. Perhaps the best Jansen pick-ups were designed by Paul Crowther, their organ designer, who later became drummer in the famous kiwi band Split Enz.
In the late 1970s competition from overseas, especially Japan, was heating up, and Jansen went out of production.
Today Jansens continue to be highly sought after both locally and internationally – as collectors’ items.
A quick Google search does reveal that the vintage guitar prices seen here are not without precedent. It also reveals that there was a 12-string version too!
G L Wilson
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