Montego II, ’72
Sunburst, Serial # 92.
In 1962, Leo Fender was continuing to devise ways to expand his company’s line of musical instruments. Since Fender had revolutionized the solid body electric guitar in the ‘50s, he was hoping to do the same with acoustic guitars in the ‘60s. He hired German born guitar-maker Roger Rossmeisl to help design and execute these guitars. Rossmeisl had come to the United States in the late ‘40s hoping to build guitars for Gibson. After a brief unsuccessful stay in Michigan, he moved to California, and contributed to Rickenbacker’s most enduring electric guitar designs before moving on to Fender.
Rossmeisl continued work at Fender Musical Instruments after its sale to CBS in 1965. He designed not only acoustics, but also the Coronado semi-acoustics and Tele Thinlines. In 1968, CBS gave him the go-ahead to design two high-end archtop electric jazz guitars: the LTD and the Montego. The LTD was supposed to be the ultimate jazz archtop (meant to rival D’Angelicos). It had a carved spruce top, gold hardware, and one hum-cancelling pickup. The Montego was a step below with a pressed spruce top and chrome hardware. It was available in both a one pickup, and a two pickup version. Only a small number of these guitars were made between 1968 and 1972: about 40 LTDs, and less than 100 Montegos. The Montego II pictured has a hand-signed label numbered 92.
According to the 1969 Fender catalog, “A magnificent instrument for the professional or serious musician, the Montego combines both beauty and performance in a high quality great sounding guitar.” These specs were listed in the 1972 catalog: “Elegantly contoured spruce top, specially-designed pickups with hand-wound hum-cancelling coils – totally shielded from outside interference, genuine hand-cut Australian mother-of-pearl decorative inlays, and the finest materials and workmanship employed throughout.” The neck is detachable hard rock maple with a curved ebony fingerboard. The body has an arched spruce top with flamed maple back and sides.
The 1972 Fender price list has a Montego II Sunburst at $850 plus $95 for a case.