8 of the Rarest Fender Guitars Ever

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Fender guitars have been integral to popular music for about eight decades. The guitars made by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation have assumed an iconic status among musicians worldwide for their distinctive sound and innovative designs. 

Over the years, Fender has produced countless guitar models that have become staples in the music world. However, some of their guitars are particularly rare and highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike.

This article explores 8 of the rarest Fender guitars ever made. While making the list, we haven’t considered the custom-made one-of-a-kind guitars as there are numerous. Many guitars on this list were commercially unsuccessful and thus had a limited production run; however, each has a unique history and represents a significant milestone in Fender’s legacy. 

8. Fender Starcaster

Rarity: Rare
Number of units built: Unknown
Production Year: 1976-1982
Body Type: Semi-hollow

Fender Starcasterphoto source: en.wikipedia.org

The Fender Starcaster is a short-lived semi-hollow body electric guitar considered one of the Fender’s strangest creations.

The body is made from laminated maple and has a center block that helps to reduce feedback and increase sustain. The guitar also features a set maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and 22 frets.

Fender launched the Starcaster series in 1976 to enter the semi-hollow body guitar market, which was at that time dominated by Gibson. However, the model failed to capture the intended market and was eventually dropped in 1982. 

Did you know?

In 2013, Fender used Starcaster to describe a range of value-priced guitars, basses, and drums. However, they are unrelated to the original Fender Starcaster, and the new model resembles the shape of Fender’s Stratocaster.

7. Fender Maverick or Custom

Rarity: Rare
Number of units built: 600-800
Production Year: 1969
Body Type: Solid

Fender Maverick or Customphoto source: images.reverb.com

The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) acquired the Fender companies in 1965. After taking over the company, CBS attempted to make some money from the spare parts left over from previously released models and designed a couple of models combining those parts.

Fender released a purpose-built 12-string electric guitar Fender Electric XII in 1965 geared towards fold rockstars. The production continued for four years, but Fender failed to sell as many units as it anticipated.

In 1969, Fender took the surplus bodies of the Fender Electric XII and transformed them into a six-string guitar. Initially, the model was called Maverick but was soon renamed Fender Custom. The model had an elongated headstock, the same as the XII and extra six holes were plugged and refinished with a concealing Vaneer.  

The model was met with limited success and dropped from Fender’s price list after only a year. 

Did you know?

The bridge used in Fender Maverick was borrowed from the iconic model Fender Mustang.

6. Fender Performer

Rarity: Rare
Number of units built: 600 (approx.)
Production Year: 1985-1986
Body Type: Solid

Fender Performerphoto source: n.wikipedia.org

Fender was sold once again in 1985. This time the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company employees bought it from CBS and renamed it Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC). During this transition period, the company launched Fender Performer, which was in production for only about a year.  

The guitar, designed by John Page, was a versatile instrument that could be used in various musical styles, including rock, pop, country, and blues. The Fender Performer features an ergonomic and stylish body shape, with a contoured top and back that makes it comfortable to play for extended periods.

Many believe Fender Performer guitars were built from the scrap wood from Japanese-manufactured Fender Stratocasters; however, it was never confirmed.

Did you know?

While CBS handed over the company, the deal didn’t include the factory, and the new owners had to build their own. Thus, all the Fender Performer guitars were assembled in Japan. 

5. Fender Katana

Rarity: Rare
Number of units built: 500 (approx.)
Production Year: 1985-1986
Body Type: Solid

Fender Katanaphoto source: images.reverb.com

The Fender Katana was another model launched during the transition period when the company was handed over to FMIC. Like Fender Performer, this was also entirely assembled at the Japan factory. 

Katana was Fender’s response to the growing demand for unconventionally shaped guitars. The Jackson Randy Rhodas was launched in the early 1980s, and its innovative shape was loved by guitar enthusiasts worldwide. Musicians from various genres got attracted to oddly shaped guitars as they looked trendy.

In 1985, Fender’s marketing director Dan Smith designed Fender Katana to satisfy the dealers demanding such models for a while.

The Katana features a triangular-shaped body with a glued-in maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The model was a major flop and dropped from the price list within one year. 

Did you know?

A cheaper variation of Fender Katana was also made under the Squier brand. Fender acquired string manufacturing company Squier in 1982 and used the brand to market inexpensive variations of Fender guitars.

4. Fender Swinger 

Rarity: Rare
Number of units built: 250 to 600
Production Year: 1969
Body Type: Solid

Fender Swingerphoto source: en.wikipedia.org

The Fender Swinger is another example of a guitar made from leftover parts to clear out the factory inventory. The Fender Swinger was built using the bodies from the Duo-Sonic II and unsuccessful Fender Bass V with spare parts from the “student” model Fender Musicmaster. The estimated number of production ranges between 250 and 600. 

Fender Swinger was never marketed seriously and did not appear in any of Fender’s catalogs and literature. A decal with the Swinger emblem was applied on the headstock, but most peeled off within a few years, making it impossible to identify the model. As a result, the model was informally called the Fender Musiclander and Fender Arrow.    

Did you know?

In 2019, Fender Japan reissued Swinger as a limited-edition run in single and dual pickup versions.

3. Fender Nocaster

Rarity: Rare
Number of units built: 480 (approx.)
Production Year: 1951
Body Type: Solid

Fender Nocasterphoto source: cdn.shopify.com

The 1951 Fender Nocaster is a legendary guitar that has become one of the most sought-after instruments among collectors and guitar enthusiasts. Leo Fender originally designed it to respond to the growing demand for electric guitars in the early 1950s.

In the fall of 1950, Fender launched its first solid-body guitar under the name Broadcaster, but they were forced to drop the name, as it was already copyrighted by the rival company Gretsch. The name was later changed to Telecaster. 

However, between February and the summer of 1951, approximately 480 Broadcasters were released in the market without a model name on the headstock, featuring only a chipped Fender decal. These guitars are now known as the Nocaster, named after the lack of a model name during that specific production period.     

Did you know?

Fender Broadcaster was the first mass-produced, commercially successful solid-body electric guitar, and its influence can still be felt in modern guitar design and music today.

2. Fender Ghost Finish

Rarity: Ultra rare
Number of units built: Unknown, two prototypes exist
Production Year: Late 1960s
Body Type: Solid

Fender Ghost Finishphoto source: cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net

Fender created the Ghost Finish Telecaster as a response to the emerging psychedelic and experimental music scenes of the 1960s. To appeal to this newly created market, Fender painted a few examples of its existing models with psychedelic designs. 

The model is informally named the Ghost Finish, as the design was invisible to the naked eye. One could see the psychedelic design on the guitar only when held under UV light.

It is unclear how many examples of Fender Ghost Finish were released in the market, but only two prototypes of Ghost Finish Telecasters are known to the collectors. Some photos of Ghost Finish Bass are also available.

Did you know?

Among the two available examples of Fender Ghost Finish, one features a floral pattern, and the other features swirl patterns.

1. Fender Marauder

Rarity: Ultra rare
Number of units built: 6
Production Year: 1964-1965
Body Type: Solid

Fender Marauderphoto source: en.wikipedia.org

Fender Marauder is the rarest Fender guitar on this list. This model was intended to be launched just before the company was sold to CBS but never made it to production. 

Fender prototyped the model between 1964 and 1965, and two versions were made. Type I featured four pickups hidden underneath the pickguard, while in Type II, the pickups were more conventionally placed. Fender included Type I in its 1965 catalog, but Type II was never featured in any promotional literature.

Only six examples of Fender Marauder were ever produced, and they were given out to shops around Fullerton, California, for promotional purposes. 

Later in 2011, Fender launched a new Marauder model that resembled the general body shape of the original Marauder but used simplified technology.

Did you know?

It is believed that Fender Marauder was withdrawn because the hidden pickup technology was not economically viable for mass production or was too expensive to license.


Head of Content at Rarest.org


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