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I've never seen a Fender like this before

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by peledog, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. yup....

    From John Page who designed it:

    Yes the Performer was one of my designs. Believe it or not, the Performer bass (designed before the guitar) was designed to be the Elite version of the Jazz Bass... yes that's right... it was going to be the top version of the Jazz Bass... scary huh? The shape of the instrument is derivative of the back of the Strat. Look at the waist cut on the back of the Strat and you'll see where the basic horn/body shape started. At the time (1982-3ish?) I was designing this, Fender was considered a pretty conservative instrument. Kramer, BC Rich and Jackson were building these radically styled instruments, so we wanted to get into that market. In my original design, it used a Strat-style peghead and the pickups were a double Strat humbucking setup. I also designed the Fender logo on the Performer... I can't say that that['s] a good thing, but it was kinda cool to design a new Fender logo. We got some comments that it looked like the Peavey logo, which really pissed me off.

    The guitar that was produced was different than the original that I designed. I initially designed it to be made in the US, but it ended up being made in Japan. When that transition happened, things were changed. The peghead went from the Strat to the Swinger, for example, so I don't remember what pickup they actually went with. I angled the pickups to thicken up the top end a bit... and it looked cool. Well, at least to me, I like "off-line aesthetics". Why weren't they successful? Look, I was a designer in Fender R&D for years before I started the CS. I was always trying to design something new and different. When we started the CS, I tried to do the same. Reality is, the public wants Strats, Teles, P & J basses from Fender. So it's really tough to get them to accept any "new & different" designs in any great quantities. I'm afraid I have no idea how many were actually produced.

    I designed the five string version when I first came back to start the CS in '87. To the best of my knowledge there was only one prototype made by Fuji Gen Gakki. It was kind of a pinkish color and had the same basic features of the 4 string Japanese model. When I initially designed both basses, the [pickups] were modified Mustang coils, wound beefier and wired to be humbucking. When the four string version was released it used a single coil p/u under each cover. The original also was designed with an angular/massive/fine-tuning bridge, and a "lightning bolt" styled string tree. Both were prototyped but never released. I never heard of any instruments being destroyed for any legal issues... maybe another one of those "legends"? The idea behind the neck was simple, at the time a lot of bass players were guitar player converts. Bass playing style started to have more of a "lead guitar" approach, so the idea of a narrower neck was to help along those lines. The original proto[type] went on the summer before it was released with the then "hottest" bands, Billy Idol (I don't remember his bass player's name) and The CARS bass player, Ben Orr.

    More here:


  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I own a couple of Performers I picked up in the mid '90s. One in excellent condition Burgundy Mist and the other considerably less so in White Pearl.

    I particularly like the pencil neck.

    I rewired the worn one for a series pickup combination option and it made my Stingray cry for its mommy.
  3. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    LOL :p
  4. Not a real Fender. It's a fake.

    Fender only ever makes P's and J's.

    I know this because I read it on Talkbass, so...
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Fender has this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't problem. When all they make are endless variations on Js and Ps, people kvetch about how they don't have any new ideas. When they make something different like this, people kvetch about how it's "not a real Fender," and often don't buy them.

    I think it's cool. Wish I had the scratch, but I just ordered a Carvin.
  6. rberry7777


    Feb 5, 2010
    I want one and I love the design - I would reconsider the pickups though
  7. Nobody

    Nobody Banned

    Jul 14, 2004
    I love the weirdness that is the Fender Performer!
  8. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I never owned one, but being a Fender dealer ('77-'88) I took one to a gig once. GREAT sound, but that neck was just impossibly skinny for me.

  9. It's tough to reinvent the wheel.
  10. isn't there a member on here that built his own basses based on the shape of the performer?
  11. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
  12. what kind of pickups are those?
  13. Spent


    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I own one (that's mine on the Wikipedia page) and love it. Played and recorded with it for years back in the 80's. I bought it new in 1986 after I switched from guitar to bass. The neck made it an easy transition, just like it was intended to be. I still have it and it's in mint (is that a TB tos violation?) condition.
  14. TheGreatSealof

    TheGreatSealof Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2010
    Deptford, NJ
    Hello John Page!

    Wow! It is great to hear from a professional designer and the insight to your creativity. I wish more professionals would reach out to the average player.

    Thanks again.
  15. gareth dunster

    gareth dunster

    Dec 8, 2009
    What a fantastic body shape.
  16. pinz


    Jun 14, 2010
    I like it alot,I can only imagine how it would look in 3TSB with all Maple neck and black guard = my fav :smug:

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