Fender Japan, Ltd. was the joint-venture between Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Kanda Shokai (神田商会) and Yamano Gakki (山野楽器) which operated the Japanese business of Fender musical instruments from 1982 to 2015. The venture involved the domestic production and sale of Fender instruments for the Japanese market.
The venture ended on March 31, 2015 and Fender itself, through its company Fender Music Corporation (Japan), took over the Japanese business effective April 1, 2015 with Fender-manufactured product line. The Japanese-made Fender guitars sold by Fender Music Corporation (Japan) have since been categorized as the "Japan Exclusive" series.
In the late 1970s, Fender was facing competition from lower priced Japanese-made guitars. The higher priced Fender guitars were made in the United States and could not compete with the lower prices of Japanese-made Fender copies. In Japan, Fender was also losing sales to Japanese guitar brands such as Tōkai, Greco and Fernandes. Since Japanese labor and production costs were much lower than in America and to compete with the Japanese made guitars, Fender moved the lower priced Fender guitar production from America to Japan. Fender began negotiations with several Japanese musical instrument distributors.
In March 1982, Fender Japan, Ltd. was officially established as a joint-venture between Fender, Kanda Shokai (神田商会) and Yamano Gakki (山野楽器).
Kanda Shokai is a musical instrument wholesaler with no retail outlets of its own. It also owns the Greco brand name and one of the conditions in the Fender Japan agreement was for Kanda Shokai cease production of its Greco Fender copies. Yamano is a musical instrument wholesaler/retailer with its own retail outlets and was once a part of Orville by Gibson venture. These two companies do not manufacture guitars, they order them from Japanese guitar factories and distribute them through retail outlets. Yamano distributes through its own retail outlets and also various other retail outlets, while Kanda Shokai distributes through various retail outlets, including the Ishibashi chain of music stores in Japan.
At the beginning of Fender Japan venture, Tokai was seriously being considered as the manufacturer, but after a breakdown in negotiations, FujiGen Gakki was chosen instead. Some FujiGen-made Fender Japan models between 1982 and 1996 have necks made by Atlansia.
Tōkai Gakki and Dyna Gakki took over the manufacture of the Fender Japan models in 1996/1997. The Tōkai-made Fender Japan guitars were not exported, but some of the Dyna-made Fender Japan guitars were. Dyna Gakki have made various guitars for Kanda Shokai's Greco brand.
Terada made the Fender Japan acoustic guitars such as the Fender Catalina.
According to a Fender representative, it was stipulated in the Fender Japan contract that if there was a change of manufacturer from FujiGen Gakki to another guitar factory, then the production inscription in the guitar would be changed from "Made in Japan" (MIJ) to "Crafted in Japan" (CIJ). Most of the Japanese-made Fenders up until 1996/1997 were MIJ Fenders.
The first CIJ Fenders started around 1992, when Dyna Gakki (one of Kanda Shokai's main guitar makers) took over some of the production requirements of Fender Japan. This resulted in the CIJ inscription appearing on some Japanese Fenders during this period. Dyna took over because FujiGen was expanding its own factory operations. CIJ was used entirely on Japanese Fenders produced from 1996/1997 until 2015, after Tōkai and Dyna took over the Fender Japan manufacturing contract. The Fender Squier range was also brought in line with the Japanese Fenders at around the same time (1996/1997), with the CIJ inscription being used.
1982: Fender Japan starts production with FujiGen Gakki having the manufacturing contract. The "Made in Japan" (MIJ) logo is used.
1984: CBS sells Fender to its current owners and while waiting for a new US factory to begin production, Fender Japan models and leftover US stock were mostly sold in the US for a few years.
1993: The first "Crafted in Japan" (CIJ) models start appearing due to Dyna Gakki taking over some of the manufacturing while FujiGen Gakki were expanding their operations.
1996/1997: "Crafted in Japan" (CIJ) is used instead of "Made in Japan" (MIJ) because Tōkai Gakki and Dyna Gakki take over the manufacturing contract from FujiGen Gakki.
2015: Fender, Yamano and Kanda Shokai end the Fender Japan joint-venture on March 31, 2015. Fender took over the Japanese business effective April 1, 2015.
For the amplifier of the same name see, Fender Bronco AmpThe Fender Bronco was an electric guitar model produced by the Fender company from mid 1967 until 1981. It used the body and neck from the Fender Mustang, but had only one pickup and a different tremolo arm mechanism. Unlike the other Mustang variants which had 22.5" scales, the Bronco was offered only with a 24" scale length and a maple neck featuring a "round-lam" rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and pearl dot inlays.
The Fender Bronco was introduced to the market as a student guitar. It had been worked on since 1964 and then produced in mid-1967. It was originally supposed to replace the Musicmaster. It was initially sold as a "package" with the Fender Bronco Amp, a small amplifier also created for students.
Its single pickup was mounted in the bridge position, unlike the Musicmaster which had a neck pickup only and the Mustang and Duo-Sonic, which both had two pickups. The unique tremolo arm was Leo Fender's fourth and least popular design, and appeared only on the Bronco. It is sometimes unofficially known as the Fender steel vibrato, and colloquially as the Bronco trem.
The Bronco was usually produced with a rosewood fingerboard and standard fiesta Red finish, but later in the series Fender introduced black finish. The Bronco, like the Musicmaster and the Mustang, was discontinued in 1981 and replaced by the Fender Lead Series. The last colours available were Dakota Red, Black, Olympic White and Midnight Wine. Unlike its older and more popular cousin, the Mustang, it has not seen a re-issue, with the result that the Bronco trem is the only one of Fender's four tremolo arm designs not in current production. The Bronco name is continued only in the Squier-branded Bronco Bass.Fender Contemporary Stratocaster Japan
Fender Contemporary Stratocaster electric guitars were produced by Fender Japan in the 1980s.Fender Custom
The Fender Custom (or Maverick) was a short-lived model released by the CBS-owned Fender in 1969. Essentially a six-string Fender Electric XII, the Custom was an attempt to sell off unused factory stock instead of simply writing it off. The guitar was made with unused parts from Electric XII guitars, including the body, pickups and neck, and also unused Fender Mustang bridges. The six extra holes in the headstock for the tuning machines were filled and veneered over. The Custom was featured more prominently in sales material than its companion, the Swinger, but sold poorly, and was never expected to compete with Fender's more popular models.
A notable fan of the Fender Custom was Cheap Trick's lead guitarist Rick Nielsen. Rik Mayall is briefly seen holding a Fender Custom - upside down in the 'left-handed' position - in the music video for Cliff Richard and The Young Ones 1986 re-recording of Richard's song Living Doll. Rock and country musician Izzy Miller also owns a Maverick.Fender Esquire
The Fender Esquire is a solid-body electric guitar manufactured by Fender, the first solid-body guitar sold by Fender, debuting in 1950. Shortly after its introduction, a two-pickup version was introduced and was renamed the Broadcaster a few months later; the single pickup version retained the Esquire name. The Gretsch Company at the time marketed a drum set under the 'Broadkaster' name, and at their request, Fender dropped the Broadcaster name, eventually renaming their guitar the "Telecaster". The more versatile Broadcaster/Telecaster has since become one of Fender's most popular models with dozens of variations produced. Once the Telecaster was introduced, the Esquire became marketed as a lower-cost version. Over the following two decades, the availability of other low-cost models saw the Esquire's sales decline and the model was discontinued in 1969.
The model has since been reissued but remains a relatively "niche" guitar. Esquire users today prefer the model's increased treble over the Telecaster. Although the Esquire was the original model introduced, given the popularity and uninterrupted production of the Telecaster, the limited reissued Esquire models are generally regarded and billed as variants of the Telecaster.Fender HM Strat
The Fender HM Strat was an electric guitar produced by Fender Musical Instruments from 1988 until 1992. A relatively radical departure from Leo Fender's classic Stratocaster design, it was Fender's answer to Superstrats produced by manufacturers such as Jackson Guitars and Ibanez. HM stands for heavy metal.Fender Jag-Stang
The Fender Jag-Stang is an electric guitar designed by Kurt Cobain, of the band Nirvana, intended as a hybrid of two Fender electric guitars: the Jaguar and the Mustang.Fender King
The Fender King guitar was a flat-top acoustic guitar introduced by the Fender company in 1963. The guitar was re-introduced in 1966 as the Fender Kingman, and discontinued in 1971. Fender King guitars were sequentially numbered and the number placed on the back of the guitar on a small metal plate.
As the name suggests the King was the top of Fender's nascent acoustic guitar line introduced in late 1963 as the folk boom took hold of the market. In its acoustic line the standard Fender bolt-on neck design was carried over from the company's popular array of electric guitars and basses. This unique configuration married a high quality neck more akin to a Fender electric guitar than a typical acoustic instrument attached to a standard sized acoustic dreadnought body. Due to this unusual configuration a "tone bar" (derisively termed a "broomstick") of aluminum had to be added through the body for structural rigidity. In 1965-66 the name "King" was changed to "Kingman" and finally discontinued with the entire critically derided and poorly selling acoustic line in 1971.
The King was available in a variety of high quality woods including Brazilian Rosewood and later included in the bizarre "Wildwood" line of multi-colored dyed wood finishes offered by Fender at the time. The King/Kingman followed the standard Fender changes in neck inlays and hardware design changes which also help to date the instruments as serial numbers varied widely and offer little indication as to actual date of manufacture.Fender Lead Series
The Fender Lead Series was produced by the Fender/Rogers/Rhodes Division of CBS Musical Instruments. The series comprised Lead I, Lead II, Lead III and Lead Bass models.Fender Musicmaster
The Fender Musicmaster is a solid body electric guitar produced by Fender. It was the first 3/4 scale student-model guitar Fender produced.
A Musicmaster Bass model was also put on the market.Fender Showmaster
The Fender Showmaster is a discontinued model of electric guitar made by Fender, and is characteristic of a superstrat.Fender TC 90
The Fender TC 90 is a solid-body electric guitar.Fender Wide Range
The Fender Wide Range Humbucker is a humbucker guitar pickup, designed by Seth Lover for Fender in the early 1970s. This pickup was intended to break Fender's image as a "single coil guitar company", and to gain a foothold in the humbucker guitar market dominated by Gibson.
The pickups enjoyed some popularity, though they certainly were never as widespread as Fender's single-coil pickups. Original Wide Range pickups were available from 1971 and subsequently installed in the Deluxe, Custom and Thinline Telecasters as well as the Starcaster, ceasing production successively in 1979 when these models were discontinued. Fender Japan were the first to introduce a reissue in 1983, followed by the Made in Mexico version around 1998. The Wide Range Pickup found on American made Fender guitars is actually the Mexican-made model introduced in 1998. All reissues differ from the original Seth Lover design in both construction and sound (see below).FujiGen
FujiGen Gakki (in Japanese) フジゲン 楽器 is a musical instrument manufacturer based at Matsumoto in Japan and is named after the famous Mount Fuji. Gen means stringed instruments and Gakki means musical instrument - the name is literally translated to "Fuji Stringed Musical Instruments". FujiGen does OEM guitar manufacturing for well known guitar brands and they also manufacture their own brands of guitars such as Heartfield and FgN.Greco guitars
Greco (Japanese: グレコ Gureko) is a brand of electric guitars produced by Kanda Shokai (in Japanese) 神田商会. Kanda Shokai (Shokai means trading company) is a musical instrument wholesaler mostly known for being part of Fender Japan.Orville by Gibson
Orville by Gibson (オービルbyギブソン), also known simply as Orville (オービル), was a brand of guitars that was managed by the Gibson Guitar Corporation for the Japanese market during the late 1980s and most of the 1990s. The name is borrowed from Orville Gibson, who founded the Gibson Guitar Company in 1902.Squier
The V.C. Squier Company manufactured strings for violins, banjos, and guitars. It was established in 1890 by Victor Carroll Squier in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1965, the company was acquired by Fender. By 1975, Squier became defunct as a manufacturer and a brand name for strings, as Fender opted to market its strings under the Fender brand name.
In 1982, the Squier brand was reactivated by Fender to become its brand for lower priced versions of Fender guitars. Squier guitars have been manufactured in Japan, Korea, Mexico, India, Indonesia, China, and the United States.Starcaster by Fender
Starcaster by Fender is a range of instruments and accessories aimed at students/beginners, marketed by the prominent guitar company Fender from the early 2000s until at least 2011. As of April 2018 no products were being marketed under this brand.Triplochiton scleroxylon
Triplochiton scleroxylon is a tree of the genus Triplochiton of the family Malvaceae. The timber is known by the common names African whitewood, abachi, obeche in Nigeria, wawa in Ghana, ayous in Cameroon and sambawawa in Ivory Coast.Tōkai Gakki
Tokai Gakki Company, Ltd. (東海楽器製造株式会社, Tōkai Gakki Seizō Kabushiki-gaisha), often referred to as Tokai Guitars, is a Japanese guitar manufacturer situated in Hamamatsu city, Shizuoka prefecture. Tokai is one of Japan’s leading makers of acoustic guitars, electric guitars, electric basses, autoharps, melodicas and guitar amplifiers. In the past, Tokai also made pianos.
Tokai was founded in 1947 by Tadayouki Adachi and remains family-owned.