Whitstable Guitars

A selection of good quality, used guitars and specialising in imports from Japan since 2008

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

Neck: Maple

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 Fender’s catalog. The line was called the Master Series.

Two of Smith’s 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 Flame’s body is slightly larger than a Gibson Les Paul, and features two slightly offset cutaways, similar to Gibson’s 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 Esprit’s body is slightly larger than the Flame’s, 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 D’Aquisto. His design included some imaginative, versatile features and stands as a testament to D’Aquisto’s 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 line’s 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.

Hard Case

All my guitars are shipped in hard cases. I won't ship one without. This guitar comes in it's original moulded Fender Hard Case which was supplied with the guitar from new. It does have damaged hinges which have been repaired to make it usable but this is a common problem with these cases.

If you are further interested in this guitar, you can either email me with any queries & I'll do my best to get back to you within 24 hours.

Or, you can buy easily and safely using the paypal "buy now" button. Don't forget to select the right option using the drop down menu on price, i.e. Collection, UK shipping or EU shipping. If in doubt, please email me first as Highlands & Islands can sometimes be a little dearer for shipping