Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Fernandes JG-series Made In Japan Jazzmaster-esque offset-waist guitar with Sustainer
Francis writes:
I'm glad to see that the Guitarz crew take the time to listen to their readership. Thank you for featuring the Grass Roots bass, by the way. I was finally able to identify it thanks to a comment by a fellow reader!

Anyway, here's a treat for you since you seem to be interested in Japanese guitars. Fernandes have been known for their takes on the Fender shape and have remained in the business producing non-lawsuit guitars well after the time of those old Fernandes/Burny copies. This particular guitar is part of the Fernandes JG series. Their spin on Fender's offset guitars. I'm not too sure about which came first but the Fernandes JG came out around 1996, right when Fender put out the Jagmaster as part of Squier's Vista series.

This model didn't appear on any of the catalogs Fernandes have on the internet. It has three single-coil pickups, a two-point tremolo bridge with roller saddles, a three-way toggle switch by the lower horn instead of the blade switch usually found on the Fernandes JGs and no tone knob. This also features a Fernandes Sustainer pickup, but not the same one found on their Sustainer Lite-series JGs. The two knobs are for guitar volume and Sustainer intensity. The two toggle switches below the knobs are to switch between regular and some other harmonic feedback setting or something, the other switch is for the Sustainer pickup.

This is a mix of all the features found on their various JG models. Something I was unable to find in their regular catalog. Eventually, I stumbled unto this Japanese site that lists two finishes with identical features as the Fernandes JG-85s EV. One has the regular black finish with weird pearloid-type pickguard found on the other JG models. The other one was this, what appears to be a transparent finish that shows the guitar's grains. A higher-end (well, it's around $1000, a bit more than the usual $500++) model JG, most likely a signature model for this band called Eins Vier (hence the EV in the model name).

I have questions for the readers though. I still don't know everything about this guitar. Does anyone have one? If so, what pots are in this? I could check mine but it could be possible that they could've been swapped out. Also, if you see that grain/top, could anyone identify what wood this is? I'm not that adept at identifying wood by grain. Thanks, if ever! Just sharing what information I have about an underrated guitar that has little to no information floating around the internet.

Hi Francis, thanks for showing us another one from your collection. It interesting to note some of the features on this guitar. For example, the spaces around the pickups and volume and tone controls in the pickguard. The Pickups and pots are not mounted on the guard as on Fender guitars; it looks like the pickguard is only there for aesthetics. This is reinforced by the fact that there is a plate covering the control cavity on the back of the guitar. Some would say this is messy, having plates on the front AND back of a guitar. Me, I think it just makes it all the more curious.

You mention that the guitar has three single-coil pickups and a three-way toggle switch. Surely three pickups are usually selected via a five-way toggle. (Not on early Fender Stratocasters, I know, before anyone comments). I suspect that the neck pickup is not a pickup at all, but is purely a sustainer unit. This would make sense with the three-way switch, as there are only actually two pickups to select.

Later Fernandes Sustainers have dual sustainer and pickup functions on the unit in the neck position; I have owned three Fernandes Sustainer guitars over the years and I always thought that the later combined sustainer/pickup units were rather weak. The current Fernandes that I own, like yours, is an older Japanese-made example and appears to be a three pickup guitar (albeit with a humbucker in the bridge position), but actually only has two pickups - with a three-way switch - and a dedicated Sustainer ONLY unit in the neck pickup position. The particular Fernandes guitar I am talking about is the only one I have ever tried that wasn't a disappointment. It's my personal belief that the earlier Fernandes Sustainers were the best. (Incidentally, didn't I read somewhere that the very earliest Fernandes guitars with the sustain feature used the Sustainiac rather than their own proprietary system?)

Anyway, despite all that I still prefer the EBow!

G L Wilson

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