Fernandes (and Bury) were brand names of Saito Musical Instruments had..
The company was founded in 1969 and registered as Fernandes in 1972.
Originally selling the flamenco guitars, the company expanded production
over the years to include different acoustic models, electric guitars,
bass guitars, amplifiers and accessories and is today one of the most famous
Japanese guitar Manufacturers.
They didn't official announced but Mr. Saito asked both Mr. Katsumi Omote
(He was a staff of Fernandes, transferring employee, conducted Kawai manufacturing,
He was a guitar player but knew much knowledge of electric guitars already.)
I'm not sure but Mr. Saito also asked Mr. Hidesato Shiino to support the
Fernandes electric guitars line in the early 1970fs. Probably, both Mr.
Omote and Mr. Shiino conducted early time Fernandes Guitar.
They made 2 brands such as Fernandes and Burny. Fernandes line is replica of Fender,
Burny was replica of Gibson line.
These were a very good replica. The price was 1/3-1/4 of original guitars.
Also, the quality was much better than earlier GRECO, (Matsumoku era) MORRIS,
Guyatone and others.
FST (Strat) and FTE (Tele) were early time line-up with Fernandes Logo on the head.
The hardware size was metric instead of fractional. So, the bridge was made slightly narrow.
The body was made by the silver heart wood which was used at many bowling alley.
After bowling booming at early 70's, many bowling alley were bankrupted.
They use the wood from those scrap. They made the body from these woods.
(Well, H.S.Anderson used it too). That's why early Fernandes body is bonded wood!
The weak point of this wood was really heavy weight. So you could feel the weight more compare
with other replica.
The early catalogs featured TV, SG and Firebird replica. Burny brand was
used for these Gibson replicas. it was unique that most Japanese manufacturers
were using bolt-on neck bodies but BURNY was very good at set-neck construction
for upper class. (ELK did set-in neck a bit earlier). In addition, the
SG copy included the vibro-tremolo unit.
As an interesting side note, the Burny name was supposed to be Bunny (as
in rabbits) but was misspelled. On learning of the error and the English
meaning of burn, they decided to stick with the original BURNY brand name.
The actual manufacturer is Kawai Gakki. They made all Fernandes guitars
as OEM contract. Kawai has many knowledge from Teisco production. However,
they didn't know well about Fender and Gibson originals.
Fernandes offered the big size Guitar Amplifiers at the same type of guitars.
These Amplifiers were named "Royal", look like Orange Amplifier.These
are also conducted by Mr. Omote and Mr. Shiino. Well, 2 gentlemen started
ESP a bit later. They were original member of ESP foundation (a bit later,
2 gentlemen left ESP, they have internal argument and it became court battle
with current ESP owner).
The sale of Fernandes was increased a lot. They sent Mr. Omote for the
States to investigate more guitars. He bought back many second hand guitars
(well, these are now vintage guitars). Then, they started to make more
In 1975, Fernandes introduced replica of the Gibson Les Paul Standard and Custom.
They used the solid mahogany back and 2 piece spild wood top like Gibson.
Also made closely matched the set-neck construction of the Gibson originals.
Probably, in 75-76, Fernandes has started to discussion with Tokai Gakki to start
the OEM production.
In 1977-80, Fernandes started the new logo mark guitars (We called it as
Stone@<in Japanese "Ishi" --- The mark is very closed to Japanese
Chinese character "Stone") logo. Tokai use very good wood materials
for this OEM contract. Tokai received many manufacturing and construction
knowledge from Mr. Omote and guitars which he brought from the States.
In 1981, under intense legal pressure from Gibson and Fender, Fernandes
introduced "The Revival" series. Fernandes was forced to change
the design of the logo mark and inlay on the head peg board to distance
themselves from the Gibson and Fender designs. Many different logo and
head designs mark this era. However, the guitars were developed very much.
They checked the Gibson/Fender Vintage guitars, and analyze them. The body
cavities, PU, Tremolo units and others..., They completely made clone guitars.
These are incredible nice quality guitars as price listed.
The following are short explanation of Fernandes Strat Replica history
1973-74 Traditional Type "Fernandes" Logo --- Kawai --- conducted by Mr. Omote and Mr. Shiino
1975-77 Spaghetti Type "Fernandes" Logo --- Kawai/Tokai --- conducted by Mr. Omote
1978-79 Stone Type "Fernandes" Logo --- Tokai
1980-81 Stone Type "Fernandes" Logo --- Changed to 22F --- Tokai
1981-90 Revival Series Logo --- Probably Tokai
2003 Revival Second Generation --- No idea about the MFG
FERNANDES is also well known in the United States for its Sustainer system
which uses electromagnetism to vibrate a string for an indefinite period?
as long as the user continues to fret the note. This was a huge leap forward
in electric guitar technology and the custom shop at FERNANDES and dealers
worldwide installed Sustainers on many manufacturersf guitars.
I personally do not like the Fernandes guitars after 1990. They made the guitar in Korea?
China? I think ZO-3 was made in Korea, no doubt.
The qulity of this brand was great in 1975-early time 80's.
These are golden time guitars. Well, revival series were really good even compare with
real Fender line.
And if you are lucky, please check the Burny line which Mr. Omote involved.
These were very good construction and tone. Maybe. Tokai LS series was the influenced by these lines.
Fernandes didn't have their own factory. Well, Greco didn't too, without factory,
the companies became the marketing, whole sales and money oriented.
They have the good sales network and brand name but they left the manufacturing spirits.
(updated April 24, 2012)
A History of Fernandes Guitars