1985/6 Fender Japan Esprit Elite Frost White & OHSC
Well, this one's a rarity!
I never thought I would see one of these Fender Esprits in Frost White. It's probably the most unusual colour that these came in and was only available for the Elite & Ultra models. As has happened before, this guitar found me rather than the other way around. It's in remarkable condition for its age. It did come in with a changed bridge and the microtuners were missing but fortunately Schaller (who made all the hardwear for these guitars) still make the same roller bridge & tuners so I was able to get (some very expensive) replacements.
Fender Japan only ever made around 4,000 Esprit, Flame & D'Aquisto guitars so they don't show up very much making them very collectible. This is the only Frost White model I have ever seen
Here are the specifications for this guitar
Fender Esprit Elite
Body: Alder (chambered) with carved Maple cap
Fretboard: Rosewood with 22 jumbo frets & snowflake markers
Finish: Frost White with polyester lacquer
Scale Length: 24.75" (630mm)
Width at nut 43mm
Width at 12th fret 53mm
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Hardwear: Chrome (All Schaller)
Pickups: Schaller Humbuckers with coil splitting
Tuners: Schaller with white pearloid buttons
Bridge: Schaller Roller bridge
Stop Tail Piece: Schaller with micro tuners
Controls: 2 x Volume & 2 x TBX Tone controls
3 way switch
Micro switch for coil splitting
Original Fender Moulded plastic case (repaired hinges)
For those unfamiliar with the Fender Master Series guitars, here is an excellent piece written about them for the Master Series website
The Fender Master Series - a history
By Gary Koehler
Approximately 36 years ago, Dan Smith had an idea. He conceptualized a solidbody guitar with routed chambers. These chambers would, in theory, provide a more resonant tonal characteristic. He also formulated and designed a basic shape for the guitar.
Then, in the early 1980s, Fender became interested in producing and marketing instruments which would be viewed as alternatives to those offered by Gibson. These guitars would not be copies, of course, but highly playable guitars with versatile electronics and other features previously unavailable on instruments manufactured by Fender. The company asked Smith to submit a concept, and what followed was an adventurous effort to produce a new line of guitars unique to the Fenders catalog. The line was called the Master Series.
Two of Smiths designs were solidified the Flame and the Esprit (pronounced espree). Both featured alder bodies with routed tone chambers, maple tops, and set-in necks.
The Flames body is slightly larger than a Gibson Les Paul, and features two slightly offset cutaways, similar to Gibsons SG. Two special-design humbucking pickups were developed via Schaller, as was a tailpiece with fine-tuners. The intention was to offer an electronically versatile alternative to the Gibson Les Paul.
The Esprits body is slightly larger than the Flames, and features two symmetrical cutaways. As with the Flame, two special-design Schaller humbuckers were employed in conjunction with the fine-tuning tailpiece. This instrument was intended as an alternative to the Gibson ES-335.
A third model was an archtop designed by the late James DAquisto. His design included some imaginative, versatile features and stands as a testament to DAquistos creativity as a luthier.
These three designs were marketed together as the Fender Master Series.
Once designs were approved, the company turned its attention to issues of manufacturing and production. Fender decided that, at that time, it did not possess the technology to build the instruments. The Japanese company Fujigen Gakki (which served as an Ibanez facility) was contracted by Fender to manufacture the line.
Fender ultimately decided to produce three models of both types. The suffixes Standard, Elite, and Ultra were added under the headings Flame and Esprit. Standards featured dot inlays and chrome tuners. The Elites featured diamond-flake inlays and pearloid-button tuners. And the Ultras had split-block shell inlays, ebony-button tuners and gold hardware. Finish options on the Standards were limited to black, autumn sunburst, and cherry sunburst. The Elite and Ultra were also available in white or pink frost, and candy red or candy green metallic burst.
Smith said Fender offered the Kahler tremolo bridge as an option on these guitars. He recalls Fender made the modification post-production, and relatively few were shipped.
He was unable to find records indicating quantities made, but estimated that between late 1983 and 1985, a few thousand were manufactured. In retrospect, Smith feels the guitars were successful in regard to quality and public perception. The lines downfall was the sale and subsequent transitional period experienced by Fender. In 1986, Robben Ford was brought on as an endorser of the Esprit model, then Fender reworked the production concept and dubbed the guitar the Robben Ford signature model.
This particular guitar is in the condition you see it. It has had light use in its life. The frets look to be original & are in good condition. No pitting & the guitar plays extremely well. The Fender Speed knobs with rubber grips are all intact and work as they should as do the TBX tone controls & the coil splitting. There are a few very small dents on the guitar body and also some discolouration on the fretboard binding that has come with age. It's very minor (IMO) but I have photographed everything and you can see it in the gallery.