Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fender Bullet Guitars

The Fender Bullet guitar was designed in 1981 as a low cost student instrument to take the place of the Duo Sonic and Music Master.

Fender designer John Page put the original instrument together. The first models were made in Asia and shipped un-assembeld to the US.

However Fender did not think the work was up to par and produced the original 1981 guitars in the US putting to use left over parts from other guitars.

1981 Bullet
The original bodies were designed to resemble a smaller and thinner version of the Telecaster. The necks were Telecaster necks. The dual pickups were Mustang pickups which were positioned like the Duo Sonic.

That is the neck pickup was angled on the treble side and the bridge pickup was parallel to the bridge. The switch was a three position Stratocaster Switchcraft version. The two potentiometer knobs for volume and tone were black Stratocaster knobs.

They came in two colors and two versions. The color was either red or cream. Pickguards were either white or black. The Bullet Standard had an anodized steel pickguard with the distal lip behind the bridge raised at a 90% angle to anchor the strings.

The Bullet Deluxe had a plastic pickguard and the strings went through the body. The bridge assembly was a barrel type and was adjusted by a screw for intonation and an allen wrench for height. The headstock decal had a 5 point star with a number 1 in the center.

I've seen them with rosewood and maple necks.

In 1982-83 the guitar was redesigned to look like a slightly smaller version of the Stratocaster. The guitar came in several versions. The S-3 had 3 Mustang type pickups with white covers positioned in the normal Strat fashion and a five way blade switch.

The H-2 had 2 Fender humbucker (that were actually Mustang pickups side to side. Alongside the 3 way blade switch were two pushbutton switches that enable coil tapping. The H-1 was similar, but only had one pickup near the bridge.

A Bullet bass was also produced. It was a smaller bodied version of a Precision bass with Mustang bass pickups.

These guitars came in black, white, red or cream. The controls were volume and tone. The input was on the top where the second tone control would be found on a Stratocaster. These were hard tail instruments.

The price for the instruments was $199 which included a molded Fender case. During this time there was also a set sold with a Fender Bullet and your choice of a Fender Champ tube amp or a Fender solid state amp.

In 1984 Fender Bullets were produced in Japan under the Squire Bullet label. These came in several versions including a style similar to the 1981 and another that more closely resembled a Stratocaster that had a Strat style tremolo.

Although they are student instrument, in my opinion they are still great players and bargains. Particularly the 1981's which have Tele neck and Kluson tuners.

Jr. Brown had his original Guit-Steel made from Fender Bullet parts.


Wool Over Eyes said...

Hey! Great Post on Bullets, i love mine to death! check out our post about bullets here

Grant said...

I have a 1982 H-2 that my Father bought for me new from Gruhn guitars. I still have it and I love it!

Jim Bainer said...

I have a 1981 Bullet with a Serial Number of E 10024. I cannot find the answer but is this possibly the 1st or one of the first bullets ever made.

john scott said...

I have just found 1981 bullit deluxe cream with maple neck up here in Alberta. Serial no E103494. Not a mark on it wwill try out for a few days before i spend 500 canadian. Comes witt fender hard case. Excited.

Gary Johanson said...

I am only now being informed that my cheap little Fender that I have used for years to lay down electric tracks might actually be a collector's item. Heh, the Joke is on me for considering CBS Fenders as something less than par. It was purchased in 1981 with the moulded case which is still in excellent condition despite my daughter's attempts to "indie" it out with stickers of heretofore unknown bands. It was also packaged with a smallish Fender Harvard amp, I might guess around twenty watts input, solid state, spring reverb. It's actually was...and remains... a pretty good small-venue amplifier.

I valued the guitar for it's "fat" sound, very Kinks/Troggs sounding, reminiscent of the early sixties Mersey Beat sound. Moreover, despite taking it all over the deep south, the "package" remains almost new looking, and thoroughly functional...something my - er- Yamahas did not share.

It's probably a very early model, I think it was purchased spring or summer of 1981, I'll have to find the sales receipt...we may still have it. Serial is E-106397, and has black pick-up covers....the only pre-squire Tele-Bullet I've ever seen that had these right off the sales floor. Black volume, tone and pick-up selector switch, too. The descriptions on line call it "cream", we call it "Hendrix Banana"...and it's nickname is "the Banana".

Oh, it came with a fender shoulder strap too. It's still in the case, but I play her sitting down.

Owner's manual and original coiled cord is still with the case. All have stood the test of time and use with flying colours.

I may show pictures of her....if it is something folks might like to see ( I am still amazed...she was just a cheap date!) - on my blog, at

Thanks for the info and the head's up that my little Banana actually has a pedigree!


FenderGuy said...

My Bullet is an even earlier serial number, E1051xx, cream body, rosewood fretboard, black pickup covers, molded plastic "Fender Made in USA" case, excellent condition. I've had it for 25 years, where it has just sat in the case while I played my other guitars!