80’s Fernandes rock star guitars

Guitarnerd is nearly 2 years old, and my first article was about the awesome Fernandes guitar company.  (Read it here.)
So, I thought I’d revisit this article in more depth, as it’s something I’m still fascinated by.

Nowadays, Fernandes are known for their Ravelle and Vertigo body shapes, but in the 70’s & 80’s they were (in my opinion) making the best replica guitars in the world. Like Greco & Tokai, they copied the usual Les Pauls, Strats, Teles, P Bass etc. Actually I think they did them a little better than Greco. But unlike any other guitar company, they also had an amazing range of guitars based on the signature axes of the world’s biggest guitar gods. A lot of these Fernandes models I’ve never seen outside of the 1985 catalogue I found, but a few are still available on the Japanese Yahoo Auctions site, which I trawl through manically every month or so. Let’s have a look at a few of the guitars I’ve found for sale.

The first example is Fernandes copy of Van Halen’s famous yellow and black striped super Strat.

This is the guitar on the back of the Van Halen II album cover, and is also the guitar Eddie gave Dimebag Darrell to put in his coffin when he was murdered. 🙁

Fernandes really nailed this guitar… the stripes are 98% correct and even the tremolo looks pretty much right. Eddie’s original has a Floyd Rose prototype, while the Fernandes has what looks to be a Rockinger tremolo which looks really similar.

This guitar looks to be based on Fernandes’s normal Strat copies, and so the quality is spot on… probably on par with the Fender Japan guitars of today. This guitar was for sale on Yahoo for roughly A$650, which is insane value. I’m not a huge Van Halen fan, but I would happily play one of these.

Next up is a replica of Eric Clapton’s chopped Explorer.

I have no idea why Clapton did this, but Clapton fans being the rabid collectors they are needed to have this guitar and in 1985 Fernandes were happy to oblige.

I’ve played a few Burny Explorers (Burny is Fernandes’s other brand name, usually used on their Gibson copies) and they are fantastic. Gibson did a version of guitar 16 years later for a LOT more money. The Fernandes version can be bought today for about A$700. This particular guitar was only $230 when I saw it!

Guitars gods don’t get much bigger than Jimmy Page. Fernandes did replicas of his most famous guitars.. his Les Paul and twin neck Gibson. But unusually they also did a copy of his double cut Danelectro, complete with a Bad Ass bridge.

Danelectro’s are funny guitars… they’re hollow, built of masonite and other cheap materials and are actually pretty fiddly the make so it shows Fernandes’s commitment to copy EVERY famous rock star guitar… no matter what it was. They did a fantastic job and bidding for this was at $320.

Next up is a copy of Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray’s famous black Strat, which was formally owned by Paul Kossoff.

Fender recently did a version of this, but Fernandes were as usual 15 years ahead of the game. These come up on for around $600 and are a bargain. The Fernandes Strat these are built from are beautifully vintage spec and play like butter.

No guitar god collection would be complete without Micheal Schenker and his famous black/white flying V.

Both Fernandes & Greco did great versions of this guitar (unlike Gibson!) and they must of been popular as a LOT of these come up for sale on the japanese auction sites. Fernandes did an excellent job on this, even using white Strat knobs as per the original.

Fernandes’s Gibson copies I feel are a little better than Greco’s as I’ve played both, and the Fernandes/Burny versions feel a lot more like real Gibson’s.

My favourite guitar god is Randy Rhoads. Apart from writing awesome songs like Mr. Crowley and Diary Of A Madman, he also had the coolest guitars. Along with his trademark cream 74 Les Paul Custom, Randy had several custom guitars made to his design ideas, which are among the most iconic hard rock/metal guitars ever made.

It is reported that the head of Fernandes back in the 80’s was a massive Randy Rhoads fan, to the point that the Rhoads family allowed representatives from Fernandes company to examine his Sandoval Polka Dot V. This is a BIG deal, as the Rhoads family are notoriously protective of Randy’s collection and rarely allow anyone to see them. It was only in 2009 that Jackson Guitars were finally allowed to examine Randy’s white pinstripe Jackson V, even though they’d been making limited runs of this guitar since the 90’s.

The Fernandes Polka Dot V is amazing… I know as I own one. In my opinion it is the closest a Randy fan will get to owning a guitar like Randy’s. Sandoval is making these guitars again and in my opinion… even though he made the original… Fernandes are closer to Randy’s guitar. There are a few companies out there now making these guitars, but if you can track one of these (which is hard as they’re very rare) you won’t be disappointed. I’ve owned mine for 18 years and still love it.

Next is Fernandes’s version of Randy’s Jackson ‘sharkfin’ offset V. This guitar has become a heavy metal icon and is the cornerstone of the Jackson Guitar company. I once owned a real Jackson Rhoads V along with a Fernades version and apart from Fernandes using rosewood instead of ebony for the fretboard, they were near identical.The Fernandes version was a beautiful, solid guitar and the value for money with these is crazy. You can pick these up for around $700 and I’d rather one of these instead of the current Jackson RR5 V’s.

Fernandes also did a version EXACTLY like Randy’s original black prototype, complete with the smaller shark inlays and Schaller type bridge but I’ve never seen one of these come up for sale so they must be very rare. The closest you can get is to track down a Jackson PCS Rhoads V, which are $4,000… at least!

Next up is a copy of Randy’s cream Les Paul Custom. Fernandes did a beautiful job with this, even engraving Randy’s name into the scratchplate and using brass/gold parts for the pickup selector. I owned one of these for a while until I got my real Gibson version and was very happy with it. The only area that was different was again Fernandes used rosewood instead of ebony for the fretboard.

For some reason, as far as I’m aware, Fernandes never made a copy of Randy’s white pinstripe V. That’s a shame as I would certainly snap one up if they did. The Jackson versions of these guitars go for insane amounts of money (anyone got a spare 9 grand? Anyone?) so a Fernandes version would fit the bill. In my Yahoo Auctions trawling I did find this though…

It doesn’t have any branding on the headstock, but it has a few clues to being a Fernandes… they used rosewood for the fretboard instead of ebony, and the rest of the guitar is pretty much spot on! They even got the pickup selector placement right.

This beauty was going for around 500 bucks… yep, that’s right. The only reason I didn’t buy (and trust me, I nearly did) was that the paint had yellowed a lot. Randy’s V is arctic white and that small detail would bug the absolute bejezzuz out of me. I’m a sad, sad nerd.

Check out more of Fernandes’s rock god guitars here.