Fender American Vintage Reissue Stratocaster and Telecaster - 1982-1984


Following the sale of Fender Music Company to CBS and the notorious cost cutting initiatives of the 1970s, Fender had lost its luster and was no longer known as a maker of high quality instruments.  The Fender Music Company of the late 70's sold some of the most disastrous guitars ever produced. 

In the early 1980s, Fender hired Dan Smith to turn Fender's quality issues and poor sales around. The goal was to recapture Fender's reputation among dealers and guitar players.
Dan completely shut down the Fender plant and spent approximately 2 years training the employees how to build a quality guitar. 

The plan for Fender's salvation was to reissue several of the most popular guitars of Leo Fender's era. It was decided that the 1957 and 1962 Stratocaster and the 1952 Telecaster would serve as the benchmarks. These first few years (1982 - 1984) of American Vintage Reissues are some of the finest to ever leave Fender's factory.
It has been estimated that about 10-15 American Vintage Reissues were made per day, by hand, during the Fullerton era.  This project was critical to the survival of Fender with these models still being produced today. 

       history of Fender guitar models



     Squier models

In late 1981, Greco (Japan) relinquished its Stratocaster division to Fender Japan. By 1982 the company had started producing Stratocasters in Japan. [11] Fender Japan produced the less expensive "Squier Stratocasters" for the European and American markets (Squier was originally a string company that was acquired by Fender, under CBS in the late 1960s). In addition, Fender produced a non-Squier model. In the earliest years, 1982-1984, these guitars were made with a serial number beginning with "JV". These guitars are referred to today as "Fender JV" Stratocasters. The top model non-Squier JV guitars, the ST-85 and ST-115, had Fender hardware, pickups, and a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. All of Fender's guitars in the 1985 catalog were made in Japan. Some estimate that as much as 80% of Fender's sales between 1984 and 1986 were Japanese models. Japanese models are now only available in Japan, with the exception of some instruments, like the Sting Signature Precision Bass, the Flower Power models, the '51 Re-Issue Precision Bass, as well as the Jaguar Bass, the Richie Kotzen Signature Stratocasters and Telecasters, the Marcus Miller 4-string and Geddy Lee Signature Jazz Basses.

     Fender 1985-1998

When the Fender company was bought from CBS by Bill Schultz in 1985, [12] manufacturing resumed its former high quality and Fender was able to regain market share and brand reputation. This sparked a rise in mainstream popularity for vintage (and vintage-style) instruments. Dan Smith, with the help of John Page, proceeded to work on a reissue of the most popular guitars of Leo Fender's era. They decided to manufacture two Vintage reissue Stratocaster models, a maple-fretboard 1957 [13] and a rosewood-fretboard 1962 [14] along with the maple-fretboard 1952 Telecaster, [15] the maple-fretboard 1957 and rosewood-fretboard 1962 Precision Basses, as well as the rosewood-fretboard "stacked knob" 1962 Jazz Bass. This project was very important and critical to the company's survival. These first few years (1982-1984) of reissues, known as American Vintage Reissues, are now high-priced collector's items and considered as some of the finest to ever leave Fender's Fullerton plant, which closed its doors in late 1984.

In 1985, Fender's US production of the Vintage reissues resumed into a new factory at Corona, located about 20 miles away from Fullerton. These three guitars form an important part of the American Vintage Series line since July 10, 1998.

   Current models

A 2004 maple-necked Mexican Standard Stratocaster next to a Vox amplifier.

As of 2007, Fender offers a wide line of Stratocasters alongside vintage reissues, as well as maintaining a "Custom Shop" service that builds guitars to order. Those who wish period-accurate replicas can request Stratocasters with original cloth-coated wiring, pickup and electronics designs, wood routing patterns, and even artificial aging and oxidizing of components using the Custom Shop "relic" process.

The American Deluxe Series Stratocasters came with a variety of high-end options such as a Fender DH-1 humbucker in the bridge position and an American 2-point locking vibrato bridge (Fender/Floyd Rose assembly) with LSR Roller Nut, locking tuners on certain models and Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups with S-1 switching. Guitars produced before 2004 featured Vintage Noiseless pickups and 4-bolt neck fixing. The contoured neck heel feature on these Stratocasters was added in 2002. The American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS (also known as American Deluxe Fat Strat) is the same guitar except for the addition of a Fender DH-1 humbucker in the bridge position and two Hot SCN pickups for a proper balance with the humbucking pickup. The American Deluxe Strat HSS LT had the same specifications as the Stratocaster HSS, with an additional feature; the strings lock into the bridge, LSR roller nut and locking machine heads. Introduced in 1998 and upgraded in 2004, the American Deluxe Strat HSS LT has been discontinued as of 2007.

American Series Stratocasters come with alder or ash bodies, rolled fingerboard edges, three custom "modern" staggered single-coils and the DeltaTone system (which includes a high output bridge pickup and a reverse-wound single-coil in the middle position). Hardtail versions were discontinued in 2007. New for 2003 was the American Strat HSS which features a Diamondback humbucker (bridge), two Tex-Mex single-coils (neck/middle) and S-1 switching. An HH model with dual Sidewinder/Black Cobra humbuckers was offered until 2007. As of 2008, all American Standard Stratocasters come with a redesigned bridge with vintage-style bent steel saddles and the S-1 switching has been dropped. Fender offers a 2009 Limited Edition American Standard Stratocaster featuring a matching headstock, a rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets and a melamine nut (available in Surf Green, Fiesta Red and Daphne Blue).

Highway 1 Stratocaster

The Highway-1 series, originally introduced in 2002 and re-designed in 2007, is a concept based around bridging the pricepoints of the Standard and American Series instruments, and also offering an affordable "reissue" meant to resemble Strats from the 60's and 70's. The instruments are made in the U.S. and incorporate a hybrid of hardware; the tuners and string trees are similar in design and quality to those on American Series instruments, while the bridge hardware is largely similar to the Standard Series. The most striking difference to any other current mass-produced Strat is the body finish, which is a thin satin-finish nitrocellulose as opposed to the thick polyurethane coating used on both Standard and American series models. This coating provides a very vintage look, as nitrocellulose was the standard lacquer finish for vintage Strats. Highway 1 Strats use hotter Alnico III pickup polepieces similar to those on American Series guitars, giving a very bright sound compared to cheaper "ceramic" polepiece elements, and also feature a tone circuit called the Greasebucket, first seen on the Custom Pro series guitars; functionally similar to a traditional tone control, it provides a more natural roll-off of high frequencies, without the bass frequencies becoming more present as can occur with traditional tone circuits. The first two years of Highway 1 instruments resembled "pre-CBS"-era instruments with the traditional headstock design, small frets and vintage color choices. Beginning in 2007, the line was redesigned to resemble 70's-era instruments with a large headstock, bigger frets, CBS-era color schemes and other visual cues.

The Vintage Hot-Rod Series has vintage looks and modern playability ignited together in these next-level guitars, which feature authentic ’50s and early ’60s designs paired with some hot-rod modifications, including flatter fretboards and larger frets to increase the playability of necks and modern pickups.

The American Special Series included Stratocasters with features that span the bridge between traditional and modern technology, either in specifications, design or both. Fender American Special series models were made in Corona, California (USA). The Floyd Rose Classic Stratocasters (made from 1992 to 2003) featured an original Floyd Rose locking tremolo bridge. They came in HSS (Fender DH-1 humbucker and 2 DeltaTone single-coils) and HH (dual Fender DH-1 humbuckers) configurations. Models manufactured before 1998 had DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucking pickups. The range also included the Honduran mahogany-bodied Strat-O-Sonic guitars with the choice of Black Dove P-90 soap-bars and Atomic II humbucking pick-ups, which lasted until 2007.

The VG Stratocaster (designed by Fender and Japanese synthesizer giant Roland) is an American Series virtual modeling guitar [16] with a Roland VG pickup and two extra knobs for Tuning and Mode control. The tuning knob allows the player to switch between standard, Drop D, D Modal, open G, baritone, and twelve-string tunings. The Mode control knob allows the player to choose between Stratocaster, Telecaster, humbucking pickup, and acoustic guitar sounds. [17] The VG Stratocaster was introduced in 2007 where it won "Best In Show" at the NAMM show, and has been endorsed by Fender guitar clinician Greg Koch. [18] Fender discontinued this model as of April 1, 2009.

The Road Worn series includes a '60s Stratocaster (with rosewood fretboard) and a '50s Stratocaster (with maple fretboard), Tex-Mex pickups, a C-shape neck, Alder body, nitrocellulose lacquer, and 6105 frets. These guitars are deliberately aged to produce the "road worn" look of a vintage Stratocaster.

    Signature models

Fender also supply a variety of signature models, each with specifications similar to those used by a well-known performer. Custom Artist guitars are the Custom Shop versions of the Artist Series line, which significantly differ from the standard production models in terms of quality and construction, making these instruments much more expensive. As well as the other Custom Shop instruments, the Custom Artist guitars are available either as Team Built or Master Built items, some being exact replications of the specific artist's original instrument, better known as "Tribute" series (featuring various degrees of "relicing", such as Closet Classic, New Old Stock, Relic and Super Relic treatments, depending the model). Artists with models available in the signature range include:

  • Jeff Beck: select alder body with a thinner C-shaped maple neck, contoured neck heel, rosewood fretboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets, three dual-coil Ceramic Vintage Noiseless pickups with 5-way switching, LSR Roller Nut, Schaller locking tuners and an American 2-point synchronized tremolo with stainless steel saddles. Available in Olympic White and Surf Green finishes (Artist Series, Custom Artist), as well as a Custom Thinskin Nitro version with a "Thinskin" nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
  • Ritchie Blackmore: a variety of versions, each with a 22-fret neck, CBS large headstock with '70s-style decals and two Gold Fender Lace Sensors; some variants have the neck set into the body rather than bolted on and a Roland GK2A synth pickup. Reintroduced in 2009 with a 21-fret maple neck, graduated scalloped rosewood fingerboard, Bullet truss rod nut with 3-bolt neck plate and Micro-Tilt neck adjustment, flush-mounted Jim Dunlop locking strap buttons and two Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat single-coil pickups (the middle pickup is omitted, but the pickup hole for the middle pickup is still present). [19]
  • Eric Clapton: select alder body with a special soft V-shaped maple neck/fretboard, 22 vintage-style frets, three Vintage Noiseless pickups, 25dB active mid-boost circuit and a "blocked" original vintage synchronized tremolo. Available in olympic white, pewter, candy green, torino red (Artist Series), antigua burst, gold leaf, mercedes blue, black and midnight blue (Custom Artist), as well in olympic white and pewter with a "Thinskin" nitrocellulose lacquer finish (Custom Thinskin Nitro).
  • Billy Corgan: based on Fender's Highway 1 series. Available in Olympic White or Flat Black satin nitro finishes with a hardtail, string through body bridge. Other unique features include three DiMarzio humbucking pickups (BC-1, Chopper and BC-2 models), two of which are signature Billy Corgan models wound specifically for this instrument.
  • Dick Dale: white pickguard with a rosewood fretboard. The whammy bar is optional (as Dale's guitar was originally supplied with one, but it broke off during a performance and he decided not to reattach it).
  • Tom Delonge: Single humbucking Strat with pearloid pickguard, a Seymour Duncan Invader humbucking pickup, single volume, hardtail bridge and a maple neck with a 21-fret rosewood fingerboard and a CBS large headstock.
  • David Gilmour: Two models of Gilmour's famous "black Strat" are available from the Fender Custom Shop: One which is a standard American Stratocaster (labeled as New old stock) with electronic and cosmetic modifications and a "relic" style guitar that replicates the "black Strat" down to every scratch and dent. The relic version even has two completely different coats of paint, just like the original. [20]
  • Buddy Guy: ash body with a V-shaped maple neck featuring a 22-fret fretboard, three Lace Sensor "Gold" single-coil pickups and a 25dB active midrange boost circuit. Available in a variety of finishes, including black with white polka dots, 2-color sunburst and honey blonde transparent.
  • Eric Johnson: highly contoured two-piece select alder body finished in a "Thinskin Nitro" lacquer, one-piece quarter-sawn maple neck with a V-shaped profile, 12” fingerboard radius and 21 polished frets, Fender/Gotoh staggered vintage-style machine heads eliminating the need for a string tree and three special-design custom-wound single-coil pickups with countersunk mounting screws. Other features include a parchment ’57-style pickguard, four-spring vintage tremolo, silver-painted block and ’57-style string recess with no paint between the base plate and the block. Colors include White Blonde, 2-Colour Sunburst, Black and Candy Apple Red. Also available as a rosewood neck version with a bound round-laminated 12”-radius rosewood fretboard, a three-ply parchment pickguard, staggered vintage-style tuners, a custom tremolo block and four brand-new finish options (including Dakota Red), three of which (Lucerne Aqua Firemist, Tropical Turquoise and Medium Palomino Metallic) are exclusive to this model.
  • Dave Murray: select alder body with a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, flat soft V-shaped maple neck with satin back, 21 medium-jumbo frets, American Vintage hardware and a humbucker/single-coil/humbucker configuration - DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 (bridge), American Vintage '57/'62 (middle), DiMarzio PAF DP103 (neck) - with 3-way switching. Other features include chrome pickup bezels, synthetic bone nut and aged white plastic parts with black switch tip. Available in Black only and as a Japanese "Tribute" version with an original Floyd Rose locking vibrato system, dual DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 humbucking pickups (Neck/Bridge) with a Fender Texas Special single-coil pickup (Middle), 5-way switching and a "TEXAS" sticker stamped on the pickguard.
  • John Mayer: features a select alder body, a thick C-shape maple neck with African rosewood fingerboard and 21 Jim Dunlop 6105 narrow-jumbo frets, American Vintage hardware and a trio of "Big Dipper" single-coils with a special “Scooped” midrange voicing and 5-way pickup switching. Available in a variety of finishes, including 3-tone sunburst and olympic white with brown shell pickguard and as a limited-edition version with a cypress mica finish, white vintage amp knobs and a 3-ply parchment pickguard.
  • Mark Knopfler: 57-style ash body with 62-style C-shaped maple neck, rosewood fretboard and 21 medium-jumbo frets, gold "transitional" headstock decals and three Fender "Texas Special" single-coil pickups with 5-way switching. Introduced in 2002. [21] [22]
  • Yngwie Malmsteen: select alder body with a C-shaped maple neck, scalloped rosewood or maple fingerboard, 21 super-sized Jim Dunlop 6000 frets, large headstock with Bullet truss-rod and brass nut, DiMarzio YJM single-coil pickups (neck,middle), DiMarzio HS-3 Stack humbucking pickup (bridge) with 3-way switching, 3-ply W/B/W pickguard, aged plastic parts and American Vintage hardware.
  • Richie Sambora: features an alder body, a 22-fret neck with maple fingerboard, mother of pearl "star" fingerboard inlays, Floyd Rose "Original" locking tremolo, 25dB active mid-boost circuit with active/passive switch, two Fender Texas Special single-coil pickups (neck/middle) and a DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucker in the bridge position. Updated in 1999 with American Vintage hardware, Hot Noiseless pickups and a 12dB active mid-boost preamp with "no-load" tone circuit and bypass switch. Also available as a "standard" version with a poplar body, rosewood fingerboard with 21 medium-jumbo frets, DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucker with two standard alnico single-coils and a Floyd Rose II locking tremolo. Discontinued in 2002.
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan: a reproduction of "Number One", Vaughan's favourite guitar. First offered in 1992, has a black pickguard with Vaughan's initials, three Fender Texas Special pickups and a pau ferro fretboard. [23]
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd: based on Kenny's own '61 Stratocaster, it features an alder body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard as well as custom-voiced Kenny Wayne Shepherd pickups. Comes in 2-tone sunburst, white with a cross graphic, or black with a racing stripe graphic.