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Contemporary

Contemporary models seem to give rise to the most 'what Stratocaster is this?' type questions in the forums. The Standard '22' is also  part of the Contemporary range but I have given that particular instrument its own page as it does not share some of the most immediately recognisable features of the range which are; black headstock (and sometimes the entire neck), the jack socket mounted on the bottom edge of the alder body and one of eight different configurations featuring humbuckers:
  1. Single humbucker at bridge position with one volume control only. System I tremelo. Model no. 27-4400.
  2. Two humbuckers with one volume and one TBX* control, coil splitter,  three-way selector switch and System III tremolo. Model no.27-5800.
  3. Two humbuckers with one volume and one tone control, three-way selector switch and System I tremolo. Model no.27-4200.
  4. Two humbuckers with one volume and one TBX control, coil splitter,  three-way selector switch and System I tremolo. Model no.27-5000.
  5. Two humbuckers with one volume and one TBX control, coil splitter,  three-way selector switch, 627.7mm scale length (all others are 647.7mm) and System I tremolo. Model no.27-5500.
  6. Two humbuckers with one volume and one TBX control, coil splitter,  three-way selector switch,  System I tremolo and 24 frets. Model no.27-5400.
  7. Two single coils and one humbucker (at bridge position), one volume and one TBX control, coil splitter, five way selector and System III tremolo. Model 27-5700.
  8. Two single coils and one humbucker (at bridge position), one volume and one TBX control, coil splitter, five way selector and System II tremolo. Model 27-4100.

The TBX control fitted to some Contemporary models allowed the user to control tone conventionally by turning the knob counter-clockwise from its detent, or to shift the pickup's frequency response by turning the knob clockwise from its detent.

Pickups were black and the humbuckers uncovered. All models with the exception of the single humbucker variant sported black, 11 hole single-ply scratchplates. On lower price models the neck (not just the headstock) was black, as was the hardware. They also had string clamps whereas the higher price models featured locking nuts. 

Confused? Don't worry, you can download the entire Fender Contemporary Model Manual from here (as a zipped Adobe Acrobat .pdf file) and all will become clear(er). Specs, set-up instructions, it's all there. The manual was kindly donated by Jerry Kern of Toledo, Ohio. 

I frequently get asked if it is possible to get spares for the tremolos fitted to Contemporary models. Up until now the answer has been no. But I've just been told about  www.fretsonthenet.com who manufacture spare arms for System III trems. Who knows, if there is a viable market perhaps they will produce other spares. Give them a try.

a) Contemporary Headstock
(top of locking nut missing)

b) Example of Model 27-4100. 

c) System II tremolo/vibrato unit from guitar b) (note no fine tuners) 

d) Another example of configuration 3 but with a System III  tremolo/vibrato unit

d) Example of configuration 1. The instrument has been refinished. e) Jack socket mounted on bottom edge & access plate on d). A common feature of the Contemporary models on this page. f) Another Model 27-5000 with a System III tremolo/vibrato unit.  g) So what model is this? It seems to be fitted with a System I tremolo!
 

Are you looking to buy a used Fender Japan guitar? Confused by what you see on Ebay and elsewhere?
 Read my 'buying tips' before commiting yourself. 

..and after doing that go to for the best selection of used non-export Fender Japan 
instruments you will find this side of Tokyo