Brad Gillis Fernandes Guitar

 

** At the bottom of this page are the Brad Gillis Models we have FOR SALE ***

In 1984 Fernandes teamed up with Brad Gillis to create an artist model guitar. It is said that the Fernandes luthiers traveled to Brads apartment and took measurements of his customized Fender Guitar. They recorded the technical details of his instrument before returning to Japan and starting on the development of his signature Fernandes guitar. This new Fernandes version of Brads touring Fender guitar, as we all now know, has very many unique attributes which make it very collectible today.

The Fernandes Brad Gillis Guitar Model Line Up

Brad Gillis appeared on the cover of the Fernandes catalog in 1984 as an official endorsee. Along with Jeff Watson and Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Night Ranger officially endorsed Fernandes guitars and they all  eventually had their own respective Fernandes Burny model guitars.

As we can see from the above photo the line of Brad Gillis Guitars consisted of 4 models :

Brad Gillis Fernandes Model ST-155BG

Brad Gillis Fernandes Model ST-120BG

Brad Gillis Fernandes Model ST-105BG

Brad Gillis Fernandes Model ST-80BG


Fernandes Brad Gillis Catalog

 Fernandes 1984 Catalog - Download

Fernandes 1984 Catalog - Download

 Fernandes 1985 Catalog - Download

Fernandes 1985 Catalog - Download


In 1984 Night Ranger and Brad Gillis became very popular around the world. Much attention was directed toward Brad Gillis was due to the fact that he came in and filled the guitar player slot with Ozzy Ozbourne on the Diary of a Mad Man Tour in 1982 after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads.

Some History of the Fernandes Brad Gillis Stratocaster

In and about 1984 Fernandes goes on to produce a red and black guitar. We know the model today as the Brad Gillis Model. Just like any other production run of guitars there were various changes throughout the run. As it seems Fernandes coordinated the official release of the Brad Gillis model with advertising that included Brad Gillis. Like the catalogs that we've shown here there were various advertisements that were made public around the world. These started to appear in 1984 and even more so in 1985.

Fernandes Burny prior to the mid-1980s and during this period had become known as a guitar brand. In Japan Fernandes had achieved a certain amount of success with their copies of well known Gibson and Fender guitars.  That said, Fernandes never actually manufactured any guitars at all. Fernandes was a marketing group of guitar luthiers and enthusiests. Just like many brands in Japan at the time Fernandes contracted with manufacturing companies inside Japan to make guitars for them. Of course Fernandes instructed these manufacturers as to the exact specifications and the exact build quality of each order. The Japanese shops that manufactured guitars under the Fernandes/Burny brand names during the nineteen-eighties are known by their short names as Matsumoku, Tokai, and then Kawai.

It was approximately two-to-three years that Fernandes seems to have been in a legal endorsement contract with Brad Gillis to produce his signature guitar. The top of the line of BG guitars being the Fernandes Brad Gillis ST-155BG Model. One note we must make is that we have noticed very evident attention to details, higher quality woods, seemingly hand-crafted workmanship and general higher quality from the earliest Brad Gillis models which started in 1984 and were manufactured until 1987. 

During the year 1987 the endorsement deal with Brad Gillis seems to have expired. After which, and for a few months, Fernandes continued to produce the same guitar which included the same appointments and quality. Even after the deal seemed to expire more Brad Gillis models were available after 1987 some missing the signature on the headstock.

Towards the end of the endorsement deal Fernandes made a few changes to the Brad Gillis Model and kept thier factories pumping out red & black guitars. Keeping the color scheme, unique fiesta red paint, and adding modernized hardware including a Fernandes Floyd Rose tremolo with fine tuners, Fernandes re-placed a very similar guitar into the Fernandes line. The red and black guitar would appear in the Fernandes guitar line as a "The Function" Fernandes FST. Fernandes also found a new endorsee for this red and black guitar. This unique Fernandes FST stratocaster became the Takeshi Nishiyama Model. Mr Nishiyama was from a band called Hound Dog that was popular in Japan.


The Details That Separate And Distinguish The BG Fernandes

The Brad Gillis Signature Fernandes is a great stratocaster. No matter which model you would compare, be it the ST-155BG top of the line or the ST-80BG red and black guitar, any player would say that a BG Fernandes is a great strat. In addition there is very-little-to-no differences between the ST-155BG and the ST-80BG other than hardware, tremolos pickups and some minor ( if any ) differences in build quality. Fernandes has always been great about keeping quality throughout the line even when they shaved off options to offer a guitar in a more affordable price point. This is especially true with any Fernandes artist model from the 1980s. Here are the differences between the ST-155BG top of the line and the ST-80BG.

Brad Gillis Fernandes ST-155BG:
Body Wood:
Alder
Neck Wood:
Rosewood/Maple
Tremolo:
FRT-3B 1984 Floyd Rose, non-fine tuner, locking bridge (black)
Pickups:
Neck Duncan SSL-1
Center Duncan SSL-1
Bridge Duncan SH-4
Controls:
Volume, Tone, Tone
On Board Booster:
Fernandes SB-3000 Gain/Boost

 

Brad Gillis Fernandes ST-120BG:
Body Wood:
Alder
Neck Wood:
Rosewood/Maple
Tremolo:
FRT-3B 1984 Floyd Rose, non-fine tuner, locking bridge (black)
Pickups:
Fernandes ALL
Controls:
Volume, Tone, Tone
On Board Booster:
Fernandes SB-3000 Gain/Boost

 

Brad Gillis Fernandes ST-80BG:
Body Wood:
Alder
Neck Wood:
Rosewood/Maple
Tremolo:
FRT-2B Floyd Rose, non-fine tuner strings through the sustain block, non-locking (black)
Tremolos - some marked as Headbanker and non-logoed Floyds
Pickups:
Fernandes ALL
Controls:
Volume, Tone, Tone
On Board Booster:
Fernandes SB-3000 Gain/Boost

The three red and black guitars are truly very very similar. Virtually every contour and every specification is for all practical purposes the same. We have owned many of these guitars over the years with all the guitars sounding very very close.

Additionally, we have not mentioned that Fernandes also had a black Brad Gillis model in the line of BG signature guitars. The black paint version actually did vary from the standard appointments of the other BG models. Yet the black color Signature Fernandes BG model is actually more collectible to some enthusiasts for two reasons. Firstly it was released only in the initial run of guitars and second its was not red with a black neck supporting black hardware.  That version was black with a black neck and chrome hardware. We will update this article in the future with actual photos of this version BG.

The Fernandes SB-3000 boost is a very unique and awesome boost which we explain in further detail in the future. Needless to say, the boost/gain on the BG Fernandes was developed by Fernandes who decades later in the 1990s went on to create the Fernandes Sustainer.

Bridges

The non-fine tuner Floyd Rose the FRT-3B, which we like to call a prototype, and the Floyd Rose FRT-2B (Fernandes Headbanker ) found on the ST-80BG are both awesome and very well made tremolos and are the factory equipment for all Brad Gillis Fernandes guitars. These bridges may be considered by some to be the best Floyds ever produced.

floyd-rose-fr-3b-brad-gillis-tremolo.jpg

The FRT-3B always had the now famous Eddie Van Halen Big Block Steel Sustain Block. The FRT-3B was standard equipment on the ST-155BG as well as the ST-120BG.

The Floyd Rose FRT-2B non-locking and non-fine tuner bridge came standard the Fernandes ST-80BG Guitar and is a non-locking bridge. Despite not being the top guitar in the BG line the ST-80BG with its FRT-2B tremolo stayed it tune very well even after tremolo whammy bar tricks. Also the strings go through the sustain block on this Fernandes Headbanker bridge which is an awesome featrure.

We can attest to the fact that these prototypes to the modern Floyd Rose tremolos are indeed very tone-full tremolos and are built much much better than any locking tremolo available today. One secret we can reveal is that the tremolos on these Brad Gillis models despite the fact that they are lacking in fine tuners on the bridge do manage to stay in tune perfectly. While we definitely prefer Floyds that have fine-tuners, when a non-fine tuner floyd is coupled with the same era hump-back Floyd Rose locking nut something magical happens. The guitar stays in tune. Try it, you might just become one of those guys that swears by a Brad Gillis Floyd Rose System. Of course one with the uber-rare hump-back Floyd Rose prototype nut!

brad-gillis-floyd.jpg

Details

It is a fact that Fernandes manufacturing changed during the two-three year run of Brad Gillis models. Initial manufacturing appears to be Matsumoku then the BG models were outsourced to Tokai Gakki. Lastly being made at the Kawai factory with all the quality levels being very very close if not the exact same level of quality. All reports seem to show that the bodies were made of alder. We have noticed that earlier models seem to have what appears to be alder and quarter-sawn alder wood. We have also noticed that some wood ( from what we can see without stripping paint ) appeared to be lighter in color later in the runs. This could indicate a change to poplar or even Japanese Sen. Yet this is unconfirmed by us. Below is a photo of  BG Fernandes we found and sold to a happy guy in South Carolina USA. The body on this guitar has a never seen stamp in the neck cavity pickup route. It seems to indicate early Matsumoku manufacturing and an authentic BG Fernandes.

alienxnation-bg-fernandes.jpg

 

The neck on the Brad Gillis Fernandes is one on the things that rank it up there with the best superstrats. The neck is ultra-comfortable and the profile has got all the elements that add up to be an extreme joy to play. Every BG Fernandes neck has the same overall Fat Neck Profile yet we have noticed differences.

In the following photo we have shown two different Fernandes ST-120s that we have owned and recently sold to collectors. The first has a serial number that starts in L02XXXX and the second with a serial number of L07XXXX.

 

The fretboard on the left two photos showing a beautiful rosewood board with a nice slight bevel on the edge. It also has a very slick and tight grain fretboard with the white side fretmarkers showing on the rosewood within the brown wood.

The photos on the right also show a very nice dark rosewood fretboard with excellent grain. The slight difference is that the black paint on the side/back of the neck extends up a little higher so as to have white fretmarker dots positioned half-on-half-off the actual rosewood.

Measurements have been taken comparing a ST-155BG to a ST-120BG revealing a neck fretboard width on the ST155BG at the 1st fret showing wider. The difference of .03mm in width. Also we have noticed the earlier prototype BG guitars we have owned having a measurement of 1.70mm ( width of the 1st fret ) and a few later models having a 1.67mm neck width at the first fret. Some very minor differences, and to most absolutely unnoticeable, yet the differences are there.

Neck Profile

That said again the BG neck are fat. With no compromise in playability, all the BG models have a unique neck profile resembling an ultra-fat C or more closely a U-shape. TheST-120BG we measured today has a neck measurement of .86 at the first fret and .96 at the 12lth fret. In all likelihood the neck profiles of all the BG signature guitars are something similar to what was on Brads Fender guitar that the BG Fernandes was patterned after. That said, at the 5th, 7th, 12lth fret and further up the fretboard as well as at the back of the neck, its ultimate neck profile is very unique and a fast playing profile.

Every Brad Gillis Fernandes we have ever seen has had an extremely nice cut of Indian rosewood. Every fretboard we have seen on a Fernandes Brad Gillis Signature has had a superb dark rosewood fretboard whether its a ST-80BG or the top of the line ST-155BG.  As well the the shape of the Stratocaster headstock has always been the same and a very attractive headstock at that. The quality and sound of a BG Fernandes has been said by some to be  the best and the most awesome hardest rockin strat ever produced.

The First Brad Gillis Fenandes Guitars Produced - NO Brad Gillis Signature

We have been lucky enough to own a few BG Fernandes guitars that we consider prototypes. Everyone identifies the BG Fernandes because on the Stratocaster Headstock there is Brad Gillis's signature in the black paint. Well it is a fact that the prototypes or the first signature Brad Gillis Model Guitars produced by Fernandes DID NOT have the signature of Brad Gillis on the headstock. These leave us to assume that Fernandes was tooling up for the manufacturing of the BG necks that would have the signature in the paint. Or that Fernandes released guitars as Brad Gillis Models before they had reached a licensing agreement with Brad. These answers no one except Brad Gillis and Fernandes will ever know for sure. Yet these early 1984 headstocks without Brad's signature do exist. They are authentic BG Models. As a matter of fact there are different versions. Some have a Fernandes the Function decal that is easily peeled off with most decals fading from age. Others have the Fernandes Logo underneath clear coat and it reads Fernandes Limited Edition. The 1984s we have seen have been in the serial Number range of L01xxxx.

One last note in regards to this, we have seen a few late 1987 BG Fernandes models that were missing Brad's signature on the headstock. We must assume that these 1987 BG models were post endorsement which could indicate that the endorsement deal included a set number of guitars agreed to be manufactured. Brad Gillis has stated in interviews that there were less than 100 of his signature Fernandes guitars made in the 1980s. Since he has stated that in recent years we will not refute his claim. 


Vintage Brad Gillis Model Fernandes Guitars -  For Sale ( Updated 8/2018 )