Fender Japan '57 Stratocaster ST57-85 Sunburst JV Serial 1982
Fender Japan ST57-85, two tone sunburst, made in Japan 1982. It's been a while since we landed a spicy Fender branded JV Strat, and oh boy, it's so good to have this one in my hands. After Leo Fender sold to TV giants CBS in 1964, the new owners pushed the Fullerton USA factory to it's limits over many years. The resulting downward trend in quality continued until in the late seventies, by which point the guitars rolling out of the factory were inconsistent at best and downright bad players at worst. Meanwhile, across the pacific in Japan, brands like Greco, Tokai and Fernandes were building replicas of fifties Fender instruments to an eye-wateringly high standard. New executive Dan Smith took a small team to Japan and signed a deal with the renowned Fujigen Gakki plant to produce the first ever Fender branded instruments made outside USA, the first of which were completed in 1982 and stamped with a 'JV' serial number... like this one. The reaction at Fender USA when the first batch landed from Japan was huge: this was how Fenders were meant to be built, and this is what we're trying and failing to achieve at Fullerton. The magic with these JV guitars seems to me to be basically two-fold: exceptional pieces of timber chosen with utmost care, and faultless workmanship down to the smallest details. The neck on this is awesome: it's straight and stable after all these years with heaps of natural play wear on the clock. It's carved to a moderately slim D-profile and feels amazingly alive in the hands. The body is a lightweight, super-resonant piece of alder, and again the obvious hours on the clock contribute significantly to the depth and richness of the tone. The finish has a lot of genuine play wear, but also seems to have been 'helped along' in some of the larger patches, so have a look at the condition report and pics and for my best attempt and bringing you up to speed on all that. The tone, friends... oh my, what a tone. Basically any Strat is chiming and snappy, but this one adds a certain thickness to the low end, a walloping attack and a gooey, rich warmth through the mids. It adds nuance and complexity to chords and eloquence to lead lines. The three switch positions each offer different delights: the bridge is snarly and creamy, the middle has a brilliant punchy attack and the neck is supremely clear and full. Examples of other 1982 comparable models from Fender Japan in cleaner condition than this are currently listed on Reverb around $3500-4500aud, so while this has plenty of wear on display and a few non-original parts, it's a bargain at this dime. So hey, get in on the JV-action while it's still relatively affordable, it's a very rewarding passtime indeed.
Model: Fender Stratocaster (ST57-85)
Made: Japan, Fujigen Gakki plant, neck date 2 Nov 1982 (serial JV32565)
Finish: 2-tone sunburst (2TS), 3-ply mint green guard
Neck: maple with maple board, 25.5" scale, 7.25" radius, moderate D profile
Mods: back cover removed, pickguard replaced, two bridge screws removed, knobs replaced, strap pins replaced, tone caps replaced, volume pot replaced, string tree replaced, finish wear accelerated
Pickups: original Fender USA ST-Vintage single coil x3, original three way switch
Case: basic original gig bag
Cosmetic condition notes: moderate finish wear. The headstock has a decent chip on the end, as well as scuffs around the edges, a burn mark near the low E tuning peg and widespread light dimples and scuffs. The neck has some significant play wear on the board and edges, which appears to be genuine wear, as well as dimples and scuffs on the back; it's clean and smooth in the hands with nothing nasty though. The back has widespread dimples, dents and scuffs around the whole body which appear to be genuine wear, as well as a bald patch along the back edge which I'd guess has been accelerated by hand. The sides have some minor chips and dimples on the top horn, a decent bald patch from the elbow area around to the jack area which I'd guess is relic-work, and some minor chips, dents and dings along the bottom edge. The front has a couple of decent bald patches up from the neck pickup and in the shoulder area, which I think have been accelerated, as well as widespread light dimples, dents and scuffs and some chips near the jack which I'd guess were natural play wear. Overall: good condition (6/10).
Playing condition notes: Action is low, neck is straight, intonation is good, truss rod works. All electrics tested and working properly. The frets have just been dressed and polished by our tech, so they're nice and even and playing smoothly, but they're probably too low to dress again, 5/10 for fret life left. Wearing fresh 10/46 Moonshiners strings.
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