Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Fender Montego and LTD - Fender's Jazzboxes

I may be wrong, but I recall first seeing the Fender Montego in the 1965 or 1966 Fender Catalogue. The guitar was offered in two versions; The Montego I & II

It was advertised as being "a magnificent duo created for professional guitarists.  Appreciated by top pros for warm singing tone." Although I don't know which top pros they were referring to since I do not recall anyone regularly playing this guitar.

This guitar was Fenders top of the line and featured all the bells and whistles. It was essentially hand made or as they would say today, "from the Custom Shop."

Both Montegos had a contoured spruce top and came with either one or two humbucking pickups. I suppose because humbucking was trademarked the catalogue described them as; specially designed pickups with hand-wound hum-canceling coils totally shielded from outside interference.

The inlay was genuine hand-cut Australian mother-of-pearl.


The body was 42 ¾ in length, 17” in width and 5 1/2,” deep with a single Venetian cutaway. Both sides of the body were "contoured", which I assume means arched and carved.

The top was select spruce. The back and sides were made of flamed maple. The guitar came in only one finish which was sunburst. The double "f" holes featured white binding on the Montego II. The Montego I's that I have seen do not have bound "f" holes. The Montego II guitars pickguard was 3 ply black/white/black laminate.

The Montego I featured a faux tortoise shell guard with the volume and tone controls mounted on it. The Grover rotomatics and tailpiece were chromed. The Grover tuners featured white perloid buttons. The guitar came with 2 strap buttons which was unusual for the day. Fender finished it with what they called a "thick-skin high-gloss finish."

Instead of saying the guitar had a bolt-on neck, Fender's copy writers called it, Detachable hard rock maple with fast-action design and a curved ebony fingerboard that featured a completely adjustable truss rod. The neck was bound in white plastic.


The headstock was unusual for Fender since it was a tilt-back head. It also featured an inlaid decorative pattern made of genuine Australian mother of pearl. The nut was hand-cut ivory nut with custom hand-filed string notches. There were 9 rectangular custom made Australian mother of pearl inlaid position markers in a rectangular design. The bridge was hand-made of ebony wood.

The Montego II had one pickup with two hum-canceling coils which was actually a floating pickup attached to the pick guard.  The Montego II had two hum-canceling pickups. The pickups featured 6 individually adjustable pole pieces.

The Montego I had one volume and one tone control.

The Montego II had two volume and two tone controls, plus a 3 way selector switch which were all mounted in the body.


The hardshell plush lined case was extra; however each guitar came with a cord, polishing cloth and a black leather guitar strap.

Both Fender Montego were designed by Roger Rossmeisl of Rickenbacker fame. He joined Fender in 1962. Rossmeisl had been trained in his home country of Germany as a luthier. His father Wenzel was a German guitar maker of much renown.

Rossmeisl joined Fender and was given the job of designing a line of acoustic instruments for the company. During the early 1960 the demand for acoustic guitars was as great as the demand during the Brit Invasion. We will talk about Fender acoustics, the Fender Thinline Tele and the Wildwood guitars later. All of these guitars were designed by Rossmeisl.

Rossmeisl was in all probability mostly responsible for the design and creation of the Fender Montego guitars. Although in reading the specs carefully you can determine Mr. Fender also had a hand in the guitars creation.

At this time I cannot find any data on how many Montegos were manufactured or how many were sold. It was listed in the catalogue through 1972 and perhaps beyond.



Possibly due to the bolt-on, excuse me, detachable neck, the guitars popularity was overshadowed by other instruments. And that was too bad, because the Montego was a fine guitar.



I cannot help but wonder if the name, Montego, was trademarked by Fender?


Although the Montego guitar no longer exists, Fender's color chart keeps it alive with their color called Montego Black.  This color is sort of a gun-metal black and a shade lighter than the Black on Clapton's well known stratocaster.











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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i saw the catalogue with the montego 1 and montego 2 fender also offered a jazz L.T.D.but did they ever build one

Anonymous said...

I have an LTD. It is amazing and I have only ever heard of one other.