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In the spring of 1965, Fender was playing catch up to manufactures like Rickenbacker with the release of their Electric XII; a solid body twelve string electric guitar! With George Harrison of the Beatles appearing repeatedly with his new Fire-Glo Rickenbacker 360/12, Fender had a tall order to bring their new model to the forefront of the market. Before this time, twelve string guitars were not used extensively, and were mainly seen as a novelty for folk and blues acts. That all changed when Harrison became synonymous with using his twelve string guitar extensively; both live and in the studio. It wasn’t long before other 60s icons were clamoring for that same, jangly sound.
The Electric XII featured two split single coil pickups, a single volume and tone control, and a four-way rotary switch; a first for Fender. This switch allowed the player to use either each pickup by itself, both pickups together, or both pickups together but out of phase. Where the Electric XII really stands out lies with its unique bridge design. While many other twelve string electric guitars had just six saddles for twelve strings, Fender had a slightly different approach. As one of Leo Fender’s last designs with the company he started, the bridge features twelve individual “barrel-type” saddles to perfect the instrument’s intonation. The string through body design also helped enhance the overall sound and sustain, since many others, like Rickenbacker, were strung through a top mounted tailpiece.
When the Fender Electric XII was released in June of 1965, the standard sunburst finish with white pearloid pickguard was offered for $349.50, with a 5% up-charge for custom colors. Soon after it’s initial release, a faux tortoise shell pickguard replaced the white pearloid guard, and later in the same year white binding was added to the fretboard. Many Electric XIIs featured pearl dot inlays, besides a small amount of them featuring block position markers. In an effort to boost sales, a fair percentage of guitars were finished in an array of custom colors in the first few years to have a guitar for anyone’s taste.
A great example of one of those early first year custom colors would be this stunning 1965 Fender Electric XII in Sonic Blue! The guitar is in great shape, with a beautifully clean neck and veneer rosewood fretboard, light weather checking, and minimal, if any, yellowing of the clear coat. Even the maple grain on the back of the neck is stunning! This example weighs in at 8 lbs 12 oz, and comes with the original Fender hardshell case!