In the late-'70s, Fender was facing competition from lower-priced Japanese-made copie, so in 1982, they launched a joint venture with Kanda Shokai and Yamano Gakki to produce Fender-branded instruments in Japan. Because the American Fender brand was only a partner—and not in the driver's seat—over the years Fender Japan, Ltd. produced some of the most inventive and novel interpretations of classic Fender templates. With quality that rivals their American-made counterparts, MIJ and CIJ Fender guitars are often intriguing designs that bring about new levels of inspiration and expression.
The Foto Flame series was a short-lived attempt to dip into the "flame top" market that was dominated by high-end brands like Gibson and PRS (and already imitated by other import brands like Dean). These guitars were easy and inexpensive to produce because the flame is a "foto." According to Fender lore, the flame came from a collaboration with Fuji to produce photographic film of Maple grain that could be applied to wood. The way the film is shrink-wrapped around the guitar is amazing, and it is hard not to think it is real wood.
This 1994 Fender Foto Flame Telecaster has an Alder body and a Basswood cap with the classic "Foto Flame" applied to the top, the neck, and the headstock. Overwise, this guitar shares essentially the same specs as the '62 Reissue Telecaster, but with an eye catching look that you don't expect on a Fender. While some of the Foto Flame series came out looking a little too cheesy (colorful sunburst finishes on top of the film get a little whacky), the natural blonde finish on this one is tasteful. Plus, underneath the Foto Flame is a hard-working Telecaster. The bridge pickup on this one is particularly hot, and it captures that classic transparent Tele sound. The feel of the slab-board neck feels like something right out of the pre-CBS era, and the carve of the profile is appropriate for '62.
This 1995 Fender Foto Flame Telecaster shows some general wear and tear, but it's nice, playable condition. The current setup is nice and low, and it sounds great plugged in. There are a few cracks through the finish on the top (see photos), and there are a few minor dings around the body (most severe is on the back, right by the cutaway). But overall, it's in great shape. It includes a Fender-branded hardshell case.