Premier Guitar

1972 Fender Montego II

July 9, 2012

This 1972 Fender Montego II archtop was designed by Roger Rossmeisl of Rickenbacker fame.

In 1962, Leo Fender was continuing to devise ways to expand his company’s line of musical instruments. Since Fender had revolutionized the solidbody electric guitar in the ’50s, he was hoping to do the same with acoustic guitars in the ’60s. He hired a 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 working 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 and meant to rival John D’Angelico’s masterful instruments. 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 single- and dualpickup versions. 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 here has a hand-signed label numbered 92.

1. Australian mother-of-pearl decorative inlays and binding add elegance to the Montego’s large headstock. 2. The hand-signed label indicates this guitar was number 92 of less than 100 ever made. 3. The simple, yet stately Montego tailpiece.

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.”

As listed in the 1972 catalog, the Montego’s specs included an “elegantly contoured spruce top, specially designed pickups with handwound 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 Montego’s detachable neck is made of hard-rock maple topped with a curved ebony fretboard, and its body boasts an arched spruce top with flamed maple back and sides. The 1972 Fender price list shows a Montego II Sunburst at $850, plus $95 for a case. The current 2012 market value is $2,500.

The sources for this article include Fender: The Golden Age 1946–1970 by Martin Kelly, Terry Foster, and Paul Kelly; The Rickenbacker Book: A Complete History of Rickenbacker Electric Guitars by Tony Bacon and Paul Day; Fender: The Sound Heard ’Round the World by Richard R. Smith; and The Fender Book: A Complete History of Fender Electric Guitars by Tony Bacon and Paul Day.

Original price: $850 in 1972, plus $95 for hardshell case
Current estimated market value: $2,500

Dave ’s Guitar Shop
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text by Braithwaite.