Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Guitars that Never Were

There are two guitars that were marketed and perhaps prototypes were produced, but they were never put into production.

In 1966 my good friend Stew Williams was able to get a couple of passes to the Chicago NAMM exhibit. He took me with him and we had a great time. It was like two kids in a candy store. As a matter of fact we were 14 year old kids.

One of the things I came away with was a copy of the 1966 Fender catalogue. Within it’s pages was the most unusual guitar that I had ever seen. Fender called it The Marauder.

It’s outward appearance was somewhat similar to the body style of Fender’s Jazzmaster and Jaguar, although the lower bout was more pronounced. The vibrato tailpiece was the same as the one commonly found on a Stratocaster. The amazing thing was the lack of any visible pickups.

The description within this 1966 catalogue stated there were four pickups that were hidden beneath the guitars pickguard. At the time it was unbelievable for the knowledge we had of pickups during those years was that the magnetic pole pieces needed to be somewhere near the strings to pickup the vibrations. Also at the time the only four pickup guitars were those coming out of Japan such as the Teisco del Ray guitars.

The Jazzmaster was introduced in 1959. Three years later the short scaled Jaguar was created. Between 1965 and 1966 Fender supposedly was producing prototypes of the Marauder. It is very possible Fender, in anticipation of marketing the Marauder they produced some non-working guitars for the photo shoot.

We know that later on Fender actually produced a variant of the Marauder. This guitar had 3 Jaguar style pickups arranged in Stratocaster fashion. It also had seven switches and four knobs. Two of the knobs were roller type similar to those found on the Jazzmaster and Jaguar for the rhythm pickup preset.

Fender historians say that only eight Marauders were every produced and those were only prototypes that were not for sale. Four of the guitars had slanted frets. a slightly modified body style was used on the Fender VII. And it is said that Fender’s Custom Shop did produce a Fender 12 string Marauder.

A replica of a Fender Marauder

Ironically during the Norlin era, Gibson produced and marketed a guitar called The Marauder.

Gibson has a similar tale concerning it's guitar, the Moderne. In 1957 Ted McCarty of Gibson came up with 3 radically different guitars than Gibson had ever produced.

These were the days of satellites, rockets and cars with big fins. So McCarty came up with the Flying Vee, The Explorer and The Moderne.

All instruments were very similar in features and electronics. They all had tune-o-matic bridges, 2 humbucking pickups, a single tone control and two volume controls. The headstocks all had Kluson tuners.

The bodies were all made of Korina wood with a natural finish. The shapes of the bodies were all different.

By 1958 Gibson was actively producing in limited numbers the Flying Vee and the Explorer. However the Moderne never came into fruition.

Ted McCarty claimed there were several Moderne prototypes built, however none have ever been found.

In 1982 Gibson produced a heritage series which included the Moderne. 

Later it was produced under the Epiphone label. At present it is not in production. Due to there rarity Modernes are perhaps THE most sought after guitar for collectors.


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