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No turning back

by Henrik Hjortnaes

Modification of a Fernandes Rhoads guitar

preview of the work

  • guitar headstock

  • guitar headstock

  • guitar headstock

  • guitar binding

  • guitar binding

  • guitar binding

  • guitar body

  • guitar body

  • guitar neck paint stripping

A 1986 Fernandes JS-100 Ltd. Edition (Rhoads) gets customized by me. This was my first ever major guitar modification and it took a while to complete due to the risky tasks involved. I'm not a luthier, but I think it turned out really great and I learned a lot in the process. The Fernandes JS-100 is a very good copy of a Jackson Randy Rhoads model of the same era, around 1985.

Fernandes JS-100 Rhoads guitar

Here's my 1986 Fernandes JS-100 Limited Edition before the modifications. All original except for the bead blasted control plate and the chrome Floyd Rose tremolo.

Wanted: oiled neck and no front plate

I love the Jackson Rhoads guitar and have a couple already, but I always wanted to modify a Rhoads to get rid of the face control plate and rear route it. I wanted a Rhoads with a cleaner, more simple front layout. Also, I wanted to strip the paint from the back of the neck and oil it to get that special feel. I was tempted to modify one of my Jackson's, but in the end I turned to my old 1986 Fernandes JS-100.

A small paint chip...

When I bought the Fernandes Rhoads, the guitar had a dent in the finish, around the 16th side-fret marker, where the paint had peeled off and that is what got this mod started. I played it for 16 years like that, but I always wanted to repair that missing paint. It eventually escalated into a full paint strip, complete re-design and a new finish.

Background on the guitar

I bought this Fernandes back in 1988 from Ken Hammer (Pretty Maids) after they had used it on several videos from their 1987 album Future World. His tech took care of the receipt, while Ken walked around in the room, boasting about this and that. I kept the old handwritten receipt; of course he misspelled Randy's name on it, haha. I paid $600 for it back then and it's a really nice guitar, very true to the original Jackson Rhoads regarding neck dimensions and wood sorts, as far as I know.

Unofficial specs

Fernandes JS-100 specifications

3-piece laminated hard rock maple neck, set neck construction and bound rosewood fingerboard. The 22 frets are most likely Dunlop 6230 or like vintage Fender size, which is very narrow and low action fretwire - just like the early Randy Rhoads guitars which Jackson and Mike Shannon built in the early 80's (pre ´85 or so). These very early Jackson neck-thru Rhoads guitars (and other early Jackson neck thru's) also had 3 piece necks. Some of the more recent (2007) Jackson Custom Shop guitars built by Mike Shannon also features 3 piece necks.

The neck feels very fat and meaty and this is the primary reason for the huge tone this guitar has. All of the early Jackson Rhoads guitars (pre ´85 or so) are also reported to have huge necks. It kinda makes sense with these similarities, since the Fernandes is from 1986 - they must have copied an early Jackson Rhoads. The body is said to be made of soft maple - 5 pieces glued together. Old type wood screws are used for studs (posts) and the guitar had a really crappy licensed, Fernandes logoed tremolo, which I changed to a chrome Floyd Rose Original, taken from my old 1986 Kramer Floyd Rose Signature guitar. The tremolo is non-recessed like most of the Floyded guitars from this era. The guitar has good intonation and huge tone due to its fat neck and old type stud screws, going directly into the wood.

The Fernandes JS-100 is born with a high gloss brass coated control plate, which I got bead blasted a long time ago; it always had greasy fingers showing all over it. The stock pickups are very nice sounding, average to low output. They are unmarked, but I’d say they are copies of PAF. 3-way toggle, vol-vol-tone layout. Plastic, non-recessed backplate. The once Pearl White finish had yellowed unevenly and looked like a nicotine stain and had the usual dings and damages. No wood chips though, thanks to Ken Hammer having covered almost all of the body backside in gaffer tape.

 
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"June 28, 1988. Hereby a signed receipt as acknowledgment for selling a Fernandes "Randy Rhodes" guitar for Dkr. 4500,- which is paid. The signee confirms that the guitar is free and financially unencumbered and that the sale is final. Thomas Kjærsgaard."

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