Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Fender Katana

Possibly the oddest guitar to come from Fender is the Katana. It was manufactured in 1985, which was one of the years that Fender had no domestic production.

Note truss rod cover
This guitar was designed by the marketing director of that era, Dan Smith, and built at the Fender Japan factory.

The 1980’s were the era of “hair-bands” and shredders. Jackson, Dean and Kramer guitars were selling modified super-strats and super-vees, such as the Jackson Randy Rhodes model.

Fender dealers were looking for Fender to come up with something comparable to these popular sellers. It would just figure that a marketing director would come up with the Katana design.

Fender’s Katana had a triangular shaped body with a 24.75” glued-in maple neck. The fretboard was bound and made of rosewood, featuring 22 frets. The position markers were unique triangle placed on the lower side of the fretboard.

The painted headstock was similar to the arrow-head shape of the Fender Performer. The headstock’s colour matched the body.

The tuners were deluxe. The headstock also featured a truss rod cover, which is quite unusual on any Fender guitar.

The body featured twin coverless humbucking pickups and came with one volume control and one tone control, both of which were speed-knobs.

A 3-way switch to control the pickups was placed below the volume and tone controls. The tone control was similar to the the one on the Performer and featured twin capacitors, 250k and 50k with a center dentent. There was no scratch plate. The vibrato/bridge sat on twin pivots. The string clamp behind the nut helped to maintain tonality. The input jack was placed on the guitars side.

The Katana lasted only one year. Production started in 1985 and stopped in 1986.

A cheaper version was produced under the Squier brand. This time production was in Korea. The Squier Katana featured a 21 fret bolt-on unbound maple neck with a rosewood fretboard. The volume and tone controls were standard. Most Squier Katana guitars featured only one pickup, near the bridge and a volume control.

Fender Squier also produced a Katana bass. Much like the guitar, the 21 fret maple neck was bolt-on with a rosewood fretboard and pointy headstock with four on a side tuners. The was one P-bass style pickup and a volume and tone control on the body. The input jack was side mounted.

Despite the looks, the Katana was a a pretty good player.


Alessandro said...

hi are you selling that guitar?

Alessandro said...

my email is

Anonymous said...

i have owned around 20 or so squier katanas, and have never seen one made in korea.

Thor Sloan said...

I have one of these guitars that I am looking to sell. Can anyone tell me a fair asking price ? You can contact me at

biblical giants said... neither..the ones I've seen are Japanese models

biblical giants said... neither..the ones I've seen are Japanese models

biblical giants said... neither..the ones I've seen are Japanese models

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Joop Traynor said...

The Katana Squiers were all made in Japan.

Unknown said...

I have a white Squier katana but it doesn't have the rosewood neck, I thinks it's all maple but I'm not sure. If anyone knows anything about them please email me at