Fernandes 1985 ‘Musician’s Version’ guitars…


Japanese guitarists are the LUCKIEST in the world…

Back in the mid 80’s, the age of shred was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. A song wasn’t complete unless it had that 30 seconds of blitzkrieg guitar work in the middle… maybe with some tasty stabs in between the verses.. and maybe some again at the outro. These guitar heroes all had one thing in common… a signature axe that was as famous as the actual guitarist.. Schenker had his black/white Gibson Flying V, Van Halen had his red and white Frankenstein Strat, Steve Vai had his Green Meanie and Randy Rhoads had his Polka Dot Flying V.

In the USA or Australia, if you wanted a guitar like Randy Rhoads, you had to get it custom made… or butcher a perfectly nice Gibson Flying V (don’t laugh…I’ve seen it happen!) In Japan though, a company called Fernandes guitars was making Japanese guitarists dreams come true, with their ‘Rock Star’ Series. These were EXACT replicas of famous guitars that were only available to the local Japanese market. And as Fernandes couldn’t get away with actually naming the guitar after who it was based on, they simply just added the initials to the end of the model number. Fancy a Les Paul like Thin Lizzy’s John Sykes? No sweat, just get a Fernandes LPJS. Itching to play ‘Run To The Hills’ on Dave Murray’s modified 50’s Fender Strat? Just get a Fernandes STDM. And if like me, your life would be meaningless without Randy Rhoad’s Sandoval Polka Dot V, you just had to find a FV105RR.

The attention to detail on the whole ‘Rock Star’ series is insane. The Jake E. Lee ‘Charvel’ has it’s pickups angled like Jake’s and is a hardtail. Charvel never made this a production model, so to be actually able to buy one without custom ordering it from Charvel is wild. Fernandes phased this series out over the next few years, incorporating some of the guitars into their regular lines.

Being a Randy Rhoads nut, I HAD to own a polka dot V. This was back in 1993, pre-internet, and coming from a country town, getting one custom made wasn’t really an option. One day tho, I found an old Fernandes catalogue in a local guitar store and there it was… an EXACT replica of Randy’s polka dot V. After a year of ringing every guitar shop in Australia, though, I soon gave up ever finding one. Luckily some guy working for Maton had imported one into Australia to play in his metal band in the 80’s and decided to sell it in the Melbourne Trading Post, which is where I found it in ’94. He explained they were only ever meant for the Japanese market due to copyright/trademark/etc so very few were made and fewer still found their way out of Japan into Australia. Mine was one of 2 that was known to be imported in Australia at the time. One bank cheque and four days later, I had my axe.

It’s EXTREMELY well built. The dots are pretty much all in the correct positions and the harpoon headstock is spot on (and lethal). The frets are vintage as per Randy’s specs, and the bow-toe inlays are expertly done. The neck profile follows the Danelectro neck that Randy’s original was based on, so it’s a little clubby. The story is that Delores Rhoads (Randy’s mother) allowed representatives from Fernandes to actually view and measure Randy’s original Sandoval V, as the japanese fanbase for Randy Rhoads is huge.

The whole thing hangs very weird, so a wide strap (a’la Mr. Rhoads) is needed. The guy I bought it off went the whole way and installed the same pickups and tuners that Randy had, so I’m unsure what the original pickups sounded like. This thing screams, though. Plus, put it next to Jackson’s version of this guitar and you’ll see why I went nuts trying to find one.

Here’s the ad for the second 2003 series of the Fernandes PDV. This time they went all out and even supplied a replica of Randy’s guitar case and strap.




The Randy Rhoads Jackson Sharkfin V was made right up until around 1994, and they even made a bass version. If you ever come across one of these guitars in your travels, snap it up. I’m looking for a Brad Gillis signature model, myself…

Have a look at some of the guitars from this awesome series here…