Fernandes is the name of a Japanese guitar company.
The company was founded in 1969, and originally made flamenco guitars in Japan. As the company progressed it expanded its production line to include acoustic, electric, and bass guitars. In 1992 Fernandes opened the doors of its american division. The headquarters of this new division is in Los Angeles, CA.
At some point in the late 1980's Fernandes acquired the rights to the Hiwatt name in the United States and Asia. Since then Fernandes has sold amplifiers in addition to guitars. I've been unable to pinpoint the date of this sale, but will continue to look.
As of this writing, on July 5, 2005, Fernandes advertises the following products on its website (http://www.fernandesguitars.com):
- The Ravelle is Fernandes' own take on the classic Gibson Les Paul. It comes in Elite and Deluxe versions.
- The Vertigo is a essentially a slightly rounded, less pointy version the the Gibson Explorer. It is available with Elite, Deluxe, or X appointments.
- The Fernandes Dragonfly is one of many Strat clones in the world. This particular one is a hardtail version. Available with Elite, Deluxe, X, or Pro appointments.
- The Revolver is the Fernandes version of a PRS double-cutaway. Inspired by the Stratocaster, but pointier. Fernandes provides this model only with X series or Pro series options.
- If the Ravelle is the Fernandes take on the Les Paul, then this is their ripoff of it. It looks exactly like a Les paul, barring the (much cooler) headstock and the slimmer waist. Fernandes sells this model with Elite, Deluxe, and X options.
- Another Strat clone. This one keeps the Stratocaster's "Tremolo" system. Sold as an Elite, Deluxe, X, or X-1 model.
- The Nomad is a neat little guitar. It has a short scale length, and a built in amplifier. Essentially, it's a travel electric guitar. Available as a Deluxe or "Tremolo" Model.
- The Native is a rounded off version of the Fender Jaguar. Available as a Pro or X model.
- The Gravity is a Fender Precision Bass copy. Available with 4 strings or 5, and as a Deluxe or X series instrument. The deluxe is made of Ash.
- Essentially the same as the Gravity, but made of Alder for lighter weight. It have a slightly different body cut, also presumably to save weight. Also, the X version is only a single pickup.
- Another lightweight bass, this one with only one pickup. It has a switch to change the pickup from series to parallel for different sounds. Only available as one model.
- Nomad Bass
- Like the Nomad, but a bass version. Travelling electric bass. Uses a piezo pickup.
As above, Fernandes sells guitars and basses with a fair number of trim levels. Here's a breakdown of what those mean:
- X series guitars have are the base-line instrument. They use cheaper wood, no-name pickups, cheap, low-ratio tuners, and bolt on necks rather than set necks. Usually these are made from Alder.
- Pro series guitars are the same as the X series, but they have a sustainer pickup in the neck position instead of another no-name.
- Deluxe series guitars are a marked improvement over Pro and X series models. These ones are made of Mahogany, and use set-neck construction instead of bolt-on necks. Pickups are upgraded to Seymour Duncans. Most models use either a 59 or a Jazz in the neck position, with a JB in the in the bridge. Tuners are also upgraded here, usually to 18:1 Gotohs.
- Elite series guitars are the same as Deluxe models, but with a sustainer system in the neck position instead of a regular pickup.
There are a couple of oddities in here as well:
- Only the RetroRocket is available with this option. The X series RetroRocket comes with 2 single coil pickups. The X-1 comes with 3, to make it more Stratocaster-like.
- Only the Nomad is available with this trim level. It's the same as the Deluxe, but with a "tremolo" system installed. Note that other Fernandes guitars are available with such a system, but that is on a model by model basis, and not usually based on the Elite, Deluxe, Pro, X designations.
Also, High-end basses use active EMG
Fernandes also sells limited edition guitars, which are essentially just Deluxe and Elite guitars with special finishes; generally special colors and a 5A flamed maple top. Additionally, Fernandes sells "X-Packs," which are just starter packs for beginning guitarists. Like all other companies' starter packs, these contain the cheapest guitar the company makes, a very cheap solid state amplifier, and maybe a few basic accessories like picks and additional strings.
The Fernandes website contains no information about their acoustics. I have played one before, and it wasn't too bad. I would describe its sound as a cross between lower end Takamine and Martin guitars. Nothing wonderful, but perfectly acceptable as a knock-around, take-it-to-the-campfire guitar. Of course, this was only a $300 acoustic -- probably not one of the better ones they make.
Fernandes still makes classical guitars as well. Again, I would say that it is comparable to a Takamine in the same price range.
Note: JohnnyGoodyear mentioned that he "would love to know how a Japanese company got or chose that name." I don't have a solid reference on this, but I think it's because they started making classical guitars and thought that "Fernandes" sounded vaguely Mexican or Spanish. I know I did.