Thursday, September 4, 2008

1984 Fender Flame

Story submitted by Alex Herrlein

Back when I was in high school, the place to buy guitars was the Starving Musican in Santa Clara, CA. I think it has changed some over the years, but, in the early and mid-'90s, it had a lot of used gear at good prices. I was ready to move up from my first guitar (an Ibanez Roadstar in white, with a black neck from another Ibanez) to a better one. I saw a 1984 Fender Flame and figured since it said "Fender" and was black (which was where my heavy-metal color preferences fell in those days) it had to be good.

The price tag was $250, and I got $75 in trade from the Ibanez. These guitars were supposedly made only in 1984 in Japan, around the time when Fender wasn't doing any American production. They made a very similar Esprit and eventually they became the Robben Ford model. I guess the idea was to compete more with Gibson, since this had humbuckers, a set neck, a quasi-Tune-o-matic bridge, and a slightly arched top like a Les Paul. From what I heard, the slightly smaller humbuckers were made by Schaller, and I think the tuners and bridge were too. I believe the body was alder with a maple top. It was gleaming black, with cream binding around the body, neck, and headstock.

Too nice for a high schooler's second guitar, but there you have it.

I didn't care for the stock humbucker, which I thought was kind of muddy, so I had Starving Musician replace the bridge pickup with a Seymour Duncan Hot Soapbar P-90, which I believe fit pretty closely. That was my main guitar in my high school band, but got less play afterwards when it became the backup to a 1979 Gibson "The SG," which I still have. Predictably, it played great and was well-made. I sold it for $300 a few years later to a friend and band mate who I believe still has it. I've considered contacting him to buy it back, but I decided to let it go.

this picture is not of mine, but looks just the same.



matt said...

Freaky, I'm in Santa Cruz to adopt a baby. I went to Union Grove Music last night. Still haven't made it to Starving Musician.

Also my first real guitar was a Gibson "The SG". I sold it ten years later and still want to buy it back.

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

Hey, send us the story of your "The SG." Thanks for reading. - Jaimie

Alex said...

I just heard back from the current owner of this guitar. I don't think I can afford to buy it back. So it goes.