In my posts about the FujiGen Gakki-built Fender MIJ ’57 and ’62 Reissue Stratocasters, I went through the available colours for the UK market, stressing that for the bulk of the guitars’ period of manufacture, the options were restricted to Sunburst, Black, Olympic White, Sonic Blue and Candy Apple Red. I explained that the top coats were prone to yellowing, which created confusion regarding some now apparently ‘green’ instruments, which are purely a result of colour ageing and evolution, and never originally existed. I also mentioned that in the 1980s, the UK market did see the odd alternatively-coloured Reissue, but that this was rare.
In this post, I’m going to talk about the colour Fiesta Red, and its use on the Fender MIJ ’57 and ’62 Strats forward from 1985. Fiesta Red was a standard colour for the Squier JV Series Strats which in Europe were the forerunners of the MIJ Fender Reissues. However, Fiesta Red was also used on the post-1984 Fender MIJs to a limited extent. Was it ever a standard finish on the export market? That’s a difficult one.
If you look at the mid to late 1980s Fender Japan catalogues you’ll see that the Fiesta Red finish was listed as available on these pre-CBS Strat replicas. However, the Japanese Fender catalogues documented the range as distributed in Japan, and there were lots of model designations available on the Japanese domestic market that weren’t exported to other countries. Therefore, the appearance of a particular guitar in a Japanese Fender catalogue does not necessarily mean it could be bought in Europe, or in America. Indeed, the entire JV range famously did not officially ship to the US at all, and only a small proportion of the range shipped to Europe.
Another point of caution regarding the Japanese Fender catalogues was their sometimes (apparently) contradictory text, which would cite a feature or colour for a depicted model, but omit it from the actual options list for that guitar.
When browsing the mid to late ‘80s Fender Japan catalogues you’ll also notice other finishes not generally associated with the MIJ Fender ’57 and ’62 Strats. Yellow White (simulating a heavily aged Vintage White) was distributed on these Reissues in Japan, and somewhat bizarrely, so was the much more in-ya-face and decidedly un-vintage Revolution Yellow. I definitely don’t remember seeing, hearing or reading about any Revolution Yellow MIJ '57 or '62 Strat Reissue in the UK – ever.
However, the Fiesta Red variant categorically was distributed to the UK in the 1980s in at least some quantity – if not on a regular basis. Distribution was clearly very erratic if not completely ad hoc, but if you looked hard enough, over a period of time, you could find one.
In late 1984 going into 1985 there was a lot of transitioning from the first main phase of MIJ export manufacture to the second, and inevitably, any leftovers would not go waste. Existing inventory would be used up, and this is evident when you look at various MIJ guitars from late ’84 or early ’85, sporting hybrid appointments. Thus, the sight of Fiesta Red Fender MIJ ‘57s and ‘62s in the UK during 1985 could perhaps be expected given that the colour had been standard on the equivalent export in the previous range.
But what about as late as 1988? Well, by that time the '84-'85 transition period was long gone, and indeed a second transition period (circa 1987) had struck the MIJ range. 1988 was the last year in which I saw a Fiesta Red FujiGen Gakki Fender Strat Reissue in a UK shop. It was a ’62 model on sale at Jones & Crossland in Birmingham. This wasn’t a secondhand shop, and neither was it a poky little place off the beaten track. J&C had a highly visible, city centre location, its stock turnover seemed fairly brisk, and it wasn’t the kind of place where you’d see instruments lingering on the racks month in, month out. I’d also be very surprised if the shop was sourcing guitars through anything but the official distribution channels. It seems, then, that the Fiesta Red MIJ ’62 Strat was available, at least from time to time, through Fender's UK distributor Arbiter, until the late 1980s.
I should stress, though, as I did in the main articles, that after the initial aftermath of the 1984-1985 transition period, this finish was very rare on these Reissues in England. Candy Apple was the standard red shade, and that’s what would be listed in dealer ads. Very occasionally, you’d be surprised by a Fiesta Red model when walking into a guitar shop. But if you went back a week later it would almost inevitably be gone, and if you actually set out to find one and started phoning dealers, you’d have a long and generally fruitless task on your hands.
It’s hard to legislate for the whole market when you were just one person visiting guitar shops around the West Midlands and London, but my own view is that Fiesta Red was not, post-1985 on the UK market, a standard colour on the MIJ ’57 and ’62 Reissue Strats. Its general absence from dealer ads is a particularly strong convincer of that, but it did exist, it was exported, and if you’re selling an all original one, you might be wanting to add a few quid to the price.
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