The magic of Fender Japan: how MIJ custom finishes and unorthodox builds dug a rabbit hole for collectors

Polka dot
(Image credit: Gas Station Guitars)

When we think of Japanese Fender and Squier electric guitars from the 80s onwards, we often imagine pristine-looking reissues available from the official Fender Japan ranges of a given time period. But Fenders made for the domestic Japanese market are a riot of custom finishes and features not seen in Europe and the US, while their build quality is typically exceptional. 

To get a sense of what’s on offer for the guitarist willing to hunt down rarities from the past 40 years of Japanese production, we caught up with Keith Anderson of Gas Station Guitars in the UK town of Taunton, who turned a casual hobby of sourcing Japanese-market Fenders into a flourishing business a few years ago. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.