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Fernandes Guitar

Article from One Two Testing, March 1986

Yet another Fender copier through the wringer

I'M STAGGERING up the escalator at London Bridge tube station with this guitar case which I'm smashing into innocent pin-stripe legs with every step and my senses are screaming for daylight and fresh air. I negotiate the ticket barrier with walrus-like agility and stumble onward to be woken from my frenzy by the hippie on the corner saying, "Watchya got in the case, man?"

"This," I said, the embryo of an intro already forming in my mind, "is the Fernandes RST-50 with triple single-coil pickups and an old-type synchronised tremolo unit. Visually, it is a very good Strat copy and it also makes some very nice sounds.

"The headstock is the familiar Fender style with the machine heads at the top, which are sturdy and smooth to turn. It has a one-piece maple neck which I found comfortable, solid and fairly easy to negotiate. The fingerboard is curved with 21 well-spaced frets inlaid into the neck, the action was set a little high and so was a bit springy at the top end and lowering the action resulted in a buzz on the D string but unless you're an avid guitar hero the action shouldn't put you off.

"The body is a rather heavy lump of Alder and is attached to the neck by four bolts. The three single-coil pickups are connected to a 5-way selector switch. There is one volume control and two tone controls arranged in a line from the bottom of the body to just below the bridge pickup. This means that they can get in the way of the tremolo arm if used vigorously so you might find yourself accidentally turning the volume right down in the middle of your favourite Hank Marvin solo. Nightmare!

The level remains constant through all the settings of the five-way selector. The sounds range from a rich jangly sound from the bridge pick-up to a more sombre and abusive drawl from the front pickup. With the volume right up the sound remains smooth and the individual string clarity remains very good.

"The tremolo comprises a metal block which is attached to the underside of the bridge and comes down into the body where it is held by three springs which control the tension. The strings pass through this block inside the body, thus increasing the natural sustain. The arm is screwed into this block through a hole in the bridge.

"The bridge consists of six individual saddles, each with its own action and tilt adjustments. Intonation is set with cross-head screws at the rear of the bridge which thread the saddles, moving them backwards or forwards.

"On plugging in you'll find that the jack socket is the recessed Strat-type which means you need a lead with straight jack plugs rather than the right-angled variety which don't fit.

"I tested the RST-50 through a Marshall 100 watt transistor amp which I've always found very trebly and extremely abrasive. The rear pickup gave a bite which was less than vicious and turning the tone down made it almost polite. This is because of a richness and fullness of sound which is gorgeously warm. With the selector in the middle position the sound was lost somewhere in the no-man's land between spite and brute force. This position, I found, was excellent for finger picking with neither the top end nor the bottom end dominating and each string maintaining its individuality well. Moving up to the front pickup the sound became more aggressive again although still lacking any real edge. Basically, I could not make it sound nasty without overdriving the amp. The rear tone control is difficult to reach for rapid adjustments especially with the tremolo arm in the way but the selector switch is well positioned and is firm enough to avoid being switched inadvertently. I found the volume control was too close to the strings and, as I said earlier, it occasionally gets in the way of the tremolo arm. The tremolo itself handles quite nicely and the arm can be screwed in so that it's held in position. It's very similar to a Strat tremolo but it squeaks like a piglet on a pogo stick. After a few good wrenches on the arm the B and E strings had gone out of tune. This, coupled with the piglet, gets rather irritating after about 20 minutes. In fact the guitar did not stay in tune very well at all, even without the added stress of the tremolo. The top three strings tended to go out every 5 minutes, the B string in particular being guilty of sticking, although a bit of graphite might cure this.

"On the whole I enjoyed playing the RST-50 because it suited my simple playing style and I was not too put off by the few faults which I found. Until I saw the cost. At that price the tremolo faults and regular lapsing out of tune are good grounds for taking the instrument back to the manufacturer and smashing it over his head. The quality of the guitar is aiming at the unfussy amateur who's more into chords than Van Halen guitar solos. The price, however, isn't."


Also featuring gear in this article

Previous Article in this issue

Boss Pedals

Next article in this issue

The Working Class

Publisher: One Two Testing - IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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One Two Testing - Mar 1986

Gear in this article:

Guitar > Fernandes > RST-50

Gear Tags:

Electric Guitar

Previous article in this issue:

> Boss Pedals

Next article in this issue:

> The Working Class

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