11/11/2016

1981 Fender Bullet One Deluxe Electric Guitar





Update March 2017: Since originally posting this I've installed a US-made Fender Jazzmaster whammy, cut the bridge plate to make room for a TOM style Fender-supplied unit, and knocked the neck angle back a little with a StewMac shim and set it up. It's an awesome guitar -- really, really, really fun to play. In fact, you can hear it as the main voice on every track of a short surf-style instrumental album I recorded in December. I've updated all the pictures and the soundclip and parts of the description, too. Basically, this thing has a Tele-style neck feel and scale, but sounds and plays like a Super-Mustang, now, with the whammy installed. The longer scale gives more bite, sustain, and zing, too.

I guess Bullets are like chips -- ya can't just have one, right? I bought this maple-necked Bullet Deluxe to be a stablemate for my rosewood-necked one. When I play electric, these days, I like to keep one in standard and one in open D, and this fella is the new squaddie. The soundclip above, by the way, is recorded with a mic on a small tube amp.

It seems that a lot of folks are into cannibalizing US-made Bullets for their necks and I can understand that -- both this Bullet and my other Bullet (both Fullerton-made 1981 models) have Telecaster necks with a C/V hybrid profile and a radius that runs around 10-11" or so. I think it's a little silly, however, as the guitars themselves are actually pretty cool. They're like hard-tail Mustangs (read: Duo-Sonics) but with a long, 25 1/2" scale length and simplified controls.

The Bullet Deluxe models (like this one) have plastic pickguards and string-through-body construction with a separate hardtail bridge and that makes a world of difference compared to the "standard" Bullets which have metal pickguards with an integrated bridge assembly. That "standard" assembly yields a brighter guitar due to the way the pickups interact with the metal pickguard and these Deluxe models are ever-so-creamier tone-wise because of that.


While the guitar is mostly original hardware-wise, the previous owner swapped the pickup covers, knobs, and selector switch tip for black. The covers are also Strat covers so the polepieces show through and you can crank them up a hair closer to the strings.

Obviously, I've also installed that US-made Fender 62 RI whammy, as well.


I lucked-out with the neck on this as it has a good amount of light figure in it throughout. The frets were a bit worn so aside from a setup, this guitar also got a fret level/dress before stringing.


Here you can see some of that curly/birdseye-ish figure.





After shimming the neck angle back to get the taller, Fender-supplied TOM bridge installed, I also took the springs (well, gummy rubber spacers) out of the pickup's adjusters and cranked it as high as it can go. The neck pickup's springs are still in so it can be backed-off easily if desired.

I installed this bridge without ferrules in the wood for a more direct sound and less-loose feel. I like that on my TOM units. There's plenty of adjustment up or down right now. Also, the bridge plate from the old string-through arrangement remains in place, but only visually functional.


The electronics are all original. Note that the Jazzmaster whammy's arm has been cut down to fit the shorter length. It thus has a slightly stiffer feel at the moment but, of course, that's adjustable per the owner's preference. I quite like it.









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