the mid 80s, things weren't going too well for Fender. The name, tarnished
by CBS, was finally being sold to an investor group led by Bill Schultz.
After the buyout from CBS the investors found themselves victim of a contract
clause that listed the foreign factories as part of the purchase but not
the US Fullerton facilities. This led Fender to be solely supported by
their foreign sales until the new factories could be tooled and up and
Kramer Classic Series
the story goes, in 1986-1987, Kramer, always being the market conscious
company, jumped on the Strat/Tele bandwagon with the Classic series.
Perhaps established a bit too late to gain much of the Strat market,
(Fender began producing USA guitars again in late 1985, but very
few) the Classic series were based on the designs of the original
Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster. The models were the Classic
I, II and III. All models had the "classic" or "beak"
headstock as earlier Kramers had. These are the models which the
name of the "classic" shaped headstock actually got it's
moniker. Before the Classic series came out, that headstock was
simply referred to as the "beak" or the "modified
Strat" headstock. Headstocks are maple-faced with the block
Kramer logo and model designation in black. Also, this is the domestic
Classic series we are talking about here, not to be confused with
the Focus Classics which bore resemblance. See the Focus
page for information regarding the Focus "Classic"
Classic I was the traditional Strat shape with 3 single coil Seymour
Duncan Alnico II pickups and a fourth single coil hidden underneath
the pickguard purely for hum cancellation. It also sported chrome
hardware, a graphite nut, 25 1/2 " scale neck with maple or
rosewood fretboard, a vintage style trem and in some cases, a set
of Paul Reed Smith locking cam tuners. Controls were 1 volume and
2 tones with a 5 way selector switch.
The Classic II was a Telecaster copy. There's not a ton of info
on these but the ones that have appeared have sported a non-pickguarded
body with Seymour Duncan equipped HSS configuration with a Floyd
Rose bridge, three on/off toggles , a single volume control and
a coil tap switch. Sharp eyes will notice this is the same electronics
as the Custom I Pacer and the SC-3 Telecaster flame top guitars.
Maple and rosewood boards have both been spotted.
.The Classic III is another Telecaster. An even more curious model
as not very many have shown up. The ones that have been witnessed
have been the un-pickguarded Tele body with binding on the front
and back, Tele-style bridge pickup and neck pickup in regular single
coil forms, 3 or 4 way switch with volume knob and tone knob and
Floyd Rose trem. Note: many of Classic IIs and others fall in the
mysterious early "F"-prefixed serial number realm. Many
of the early "F" have appeared on Ebay as parts mutts
so they have to looked at carefully for authenticity. There is little
to no info in catalogs or Kramer lit on Classic IIs or IIIs so every
piece should be taken with a careful eye.
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