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Fender Marauder

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Title: Fender Marauder  
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Subject: Fender Starcaster, Squier, Fender Stratocaster, Fender electric guitars, Fender Princeton
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Fender Marauder

Fender Marauder
Manufacturer Fender
Period 1962–1966
Body type Solid
Neck joint Bolt-on
Scale 25.5"
Body Alder
Neck Maple
Fretboard Rosewood with pearl block inlays
Bridge Fixed bridge or hidden tremolo
Pickup(s) 3 or 4 single-coil, specially designed
Colors available
3 Tone Sunburst

After introducing the Jazzmaster in 1959 and the Jaguar in 1962, between 1965 and 1966, Fender prototyped the Marauder. There were two "versions" made: Type I, with pickups hidden underneath the pickguard and which are shown in the 1962 catalog, and Type II, with the pickups mounted in a more conventional fashion on the pickguard and never appeared in any catalog.

The original Marauders had 4 hidden, high powered pickups under the pickguard. They were never made available to the public and the 6 known production models were given away as promotions to shops around the Fullerton,California area. The Fender Book: A Complete History of Fender Electric Guitars by Tony Bacon, Paul Day.

The Type II variation has three pickups, with the bridge pickup slanted as upon a Stratocaster. It also has seven switches and four knobs. The thinking behind the model was to combine the ideas behind the Stratocaster and Jaguar guitars while adding some new features to increase versatility.

The guitar never officially passed the prototype stage, allegedly because the hidden pickups of the Type I variation were either too expensive for mass-production or the technology itself was too expensive to license.

The original Fender Marauder prototype is a pre-CBS guitar with an "L" serial number plate suggesting it was built in mid to late 1964. This instrument is a tremolo guitar, ice blue (now aged to green) with matching headstock, and was personally owned and played by Quilla Freeman until the mid-1970s when it went through a couple of brokers' hands and into the permanent collection of a well-known musician, where it remains to this day. (May, 17th, 2012). It has only five switches – four pickup controls (one per pickup - on/off/phased) plus a "lead/rhythm" Jaguar style upper-bout switch. It has two sets of volume/tone pots – rollers on top control plate (rhythm position) and traditional pots on the lower control plate (lead position).

The prototype Marauder is fitted with plastic button "F" Grover tuning machines, which were not used on the Marauders in the 1965 catalog and was delivered in a brown tolex case that's still with the guitar. The pickups were custom made for the Marauder and the owner of this first Marauder prototype also has one spare pickup, so at least five of these special pickups are known to have been produced. Fender put two of these first Marauders, a sunburst tremolo version and a hard-tail green one, in their 1965–66 catalog as their most expensive guitars, and listed Marauders on more than one price sheet beginning in early 1965 before abandoning the project for unspecified reasons.

It is not known if these two catalog Marauders were simply mock-ups or actual working instruments. One possible reason they ditched the Marauder might have been a disagreement of some sort between the new CBS owners of Fender and Quilla ("Porky") H. Freeman, the inventor of the Marauder and owner of the patent. Patent #3,035,472, dated May 22, 1962, covers the Marauder's under the pickguard pickups: "the construction is such that the electromagnetic pickups may be housed within the body of the stringed musical instrument..." After Fender bailed out, Porky took his patented hidden pickup design to Rickenbacker, and in 1968, Rickenbacker made one prototype of a four-hidden-pickups-beneath-the-pickguard guitar before apparently deciding against going into production, again for unspecified reasons.

Both the Fender and Rickenbacker four-hidden-pickups-beneath-the-pickguard Marauder prototypes survive to this day, but nobody has published any pictures of other original hidden-pickup Marauders and made their existence known to the guitar collecting world. Both of these prototype guitars were initially owned by Porky Freeman and their provenance from him to the current owners has been well-documented by reliable persons who are alive today. The private owners desire anonymity and are known to only a few very dedicated guitar collectors.

Later guitars with the three visible pickups and/or slant frets were built on a differently shaped body, and were never officially named by Fender as Marauders or anything else. Still, some people refer to these experimental guitars as "Type II Marauders" (that's what is pictured in this article) for reasons that have never been and remain unclear.

In the 1999 - 2001, the Fender Custom Shop (Fred Stuart) built some guitars that bore some, but not all, of the Marauder characteristics and sold them as Fender Marauder Custom Shop reissues. The reason they weren't entirely accurate representations is that nobody, according to Mr. Stuart, knew the exact specifications of those 1965 catalog Marauders, even amongst Fender old-timers and collectors. Mr. Stuart stated that all he had to work with was the catalog photo and one body template, found in the Fender shop and labeled "Marauder" in pencil. These Custom Shop "Marauders" were wired differently, had different pickups, had different body shapes and slightly different dimensions and geometry from the original Marauders shown in the 1965 Fender catalog.

Around the turn of the 21st century, the Fender Custom Shop made a 12-string Marauder model. However, this guitar was radically different from the mid-1960s original, having fewer switches and a very different body shape.

In October 2011, Fender introduced a new Marauder model as part of the Modern Player entry-level series. This Marauder shares the general body shape of the 1960s original but has a simplified switching system featuring a 5-way switch, master volume and tone controls. It also sports a Triplebucker humbucking pickup and a Modern Player Jazzmaster pickup in the lead and rhythm positions. This model is also unique as the first Fender production model to be made with a Koto wood body. As of 2014, this model has now been discontinued.

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