Guitar Gear Archives

Fender Bullet Guitar History

fenderbulletThe Fender Bullet, introduced in 1981, was originally targeted at those looking for an entry level guitar at a reasonable price. Fender took the option to release the USA manufactured Bullet under mounting pressure from far east imports and inexpensive “strat” copies which were flooding the market.

The early Bullet series offered a small range of guitars with minimal color and equipment choices – The original design looked somewhat like a contored telecaster (the headstock was the familiar tele shape). Pickup wise the guitar came with two single coil pickups (neck and bridge) and to finish off there was a single tone and single volume control.

Sound wise the early versions produced a decent enough sparkly treble tone – again reminiscent of a telecaster – a 3 way pickup selector switch allowed for some versatility and the guitar itself was fairly playable with a nice smooth slim neck. Indeed the necks of these early Bullet’s often cause much discussion as to whether they are actually Telecaster necks.

A year on from it’s initial release in 1982 Fender reinvigorated the series by modifying the design – the shape became a double cutaway (traditional Stratocaster type body) and there were more versions with a greater variety of hardware and electronics (for example humbuckers were introduced and there was the option of two humbuckers or one humbucker one singlecoil.) Fender also added a coil tapping button for the humbucker equipped guitars.

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Get great Vox AC30 tones from a headphone amp?

With the improved range of hardware – sonically the guitars could produce a more varied palate of tones which could encompass more harder rockier sounds (the original Bullet’s being better equipped for a clean tone). Fender also expanded the color options going from 2 to 4 (sunburst and brown being added).

These early bullet guitars have proved particularly durable with models appearing on ebay some 20 years later still in reasonable condition (watch out for rust on the bridge and tuners though). They make an interesting addition for any guitar collector or for those wanting something a little different.

In the mid eighties the Bullet was swallowed up by Fender’s Squier Brand produced in the far east. Today Squier still manufacture the Bullet albeit, now a closer cousin of the Stratocaster – aimed at the beginner or student – today’s bullet features 3 single coil pickups and the traditional Fender Strat layout on a laminated body. Today’s Bullet can be had for around $100 which is a bargain for anyone starting out.

Overall in the 20 odd years since the bullet was originally introduced it’s seen quite a few changes – however the name still remains and the modern Bullet is squarely marketed at the beginner guitarist offering not only value for money but also an interesting heritage too.

Vox Mark VI Teardrop

teardropDuring the heyday of the 1960’s and the explosion of “pop music” one of the rare non-American guitar manufacturers that was able to compete with the likes of Fender and Gibson was Vox.

Perhaps the best known design from the Vox guitar range was the Vox Mark VI or the “teardrop” as it was affectionately known. The teardrop had a bolt-on maple neck, a vibrato system similar in operation to a Bigsby – and three single coil pickups.

The obvious differentiator between the Vox and similar guitars was it’s teardrop shape. Tonally the Mark VI produces a sound not too dissimimar to a Strat – nice clean with punchy highs and a rich warm response.

The Vox Mark VI teardrop guitar gained some noteriaty when during The Ed Sullivan show Bryan Jones from the Rolling Stones was featured playing one.

Originally produced during the 1960’s and reissued during the 1980’s vintage teardrops are collectors items and remain highly sought after by enthusiasts

Tokai Guitars

The Tokai Guitar company has a long history, originally founded in 1947, the Japanese guitar manufacturer based in Hamamatsu.

Manufactured in both Japan and Korea, Tokai produce a variety of guitars, acoustic, electrics regular 6 strings to basses.

Like Gibson with Epiphone and Fender with Squire – Tokai have a variety of priced instruments. The Japanese guitars tend to be manufactured with higher quality woods and components – the Korean counterparts less expensive, feature maple necks instead of mahogany with cheaper alder bodies..

Stylistically many of the Tokai guitars are similar to Gibson and Fender counterparts (notably the Strat, Tele and Les Paul designs). Simularly they also have a custom shop center.

There have been a few well known guitarists that have played Tokai’s notably Stevie Ray Vaughn and Nile Rodgers.

Generally Tokai guitars represent great value for money and with some of the older Tokai guitars becoming collectors items that can sell for reasonable figures on usual auction sites there well worth checking out.

In part two of our article we’ll look at the current rage of guitars that Tokai Produce

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