Fernandes began making flamenco guitars in Japan in the late 1960s. The company quickly set out to produce a wider range of range of guitars based on the Fender and Gibson models popular at the time. Fernandes gained a solid reputation for the sound and craftsmanship of its guitars and, although lawsuits in the early '80s forced small changes, the quality remained. Fernandes guitars of the '80s still have a faithful following of musicians and collectors.
Fernandes Stratocaster Copies
As the '80s began, all Fernandes Stratocaster copies used the letters FST at the beginning of their model numbers, and they shipped with maple necks and die-cast bridges. After lawsuits by Fender, the labels and headstocks were changed to satisfy judgments against the company, and the model name changed to the RST, also known as the Revival series. Different wood options from maple to koa were used for the bodies after the lawsuit. Pickup options changed to include staggered pole pieces, compensating for the different output levels of individual strings. Even though the name changed, quality remained a priority.
Fernandes Telecaster Copies
Fernandes based their FTE guitar on the Fender Telecaster. The FTE, like the FST, cloned Fender guitars so closely that they were impossible to tell apart from a distance. After the lawsuit, the FTE became the RTE as the Revival series evolved. The neck and headstock changed slightly to meet legal requirements and a Bigsby tremolo bridge appeared as an option on some models.
The Burny label makes Gibson-style guitars for the Fernandes company. As with the Fernandes label, lawsuits made the company add minor changes to their guitars in the 1980s. The craftsmanship of Burny guitars was such that guitarists with broken Gibson Les Paul necks would seek out Burny necks to save money. The Gibson copies were named Supergrade. Before the lawsuits, the name was the only obvious feature that distinguished these guitars from their Gibson counterparts. After the lawsuit, slight modifications to the truss-rod cover and headstock made them easier to spot.
Most Fernandes guitars were available with the option of an electromagnet under the strings that changed a normal guitar into a Sustainer guitar. Much like the EBow, a hand-held guitar effect, the electromagnetic field of the Sustainer system causes the strings to vibrate, making notes ring until deadened by the guitarist.
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