a June 2000 photo of Peter playing my Fender Venus, my son Sam playing a pumpkin shaker, a bone shaker and some bells, and my son Arthur playing electronic drums

Fender Venus!

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Here's a great picture I took of my brother-out-law Peter playing my Fender Venus electric guitar, my son Sam playing a pumpkin shaker, a bone shaker and some bells, and my son Arthur playing electronic drums, back in June of 2000. As you can see we have a cool living room where most everything is either red or black. :-)

My Venus * Fender's own Venus page * Venus links * Want to buy a Venus? * Venus players

"If you pick up a guitar and it says, 'Take me, I'm yours,' then that's the one for you." - Frank Zappa

After many years of acoustic guitars, my first electric guitar was a $60-ish "refurbished" Synsonics Stratocaster copy with a built-in speaker. It was cute and fun but definitely not a well-made guitar. I banished it to the garage during a period of guitar inactivity, and when I got it out again the internal speaker was spitting out more static than music. I decided to replace it with a good electric guitar, but which one? -- there were so many kinds, all appealing in their own ways.

Then I saw the Fender Venus (also known as the Fender Squier Venus and the Fender Vista Venus), and knew that was the one for me. A beautiful simple well-made guitar that sounded great and felt perfect. I loved the somewhat harp-shaped (or pregnant-shaped :-)) body that looked kind of like a cross between a Stratocaster and a Rickenbacker, the feel of the neck, that it had both single-coil and humbucking pickups, and that it was designed by a female rocker. Check out Courtney Love's explanation of her design for the Venus in this excerpt from Guitar World Magazine's January 1999 article HOLE TONES: Secrets Of Celebrity Skin's Smooth Sound:

The body shape was based in part on Rickenbacker solidbodies and Mercury guitars - an obscure American brand. The Venus models that Love plays have just one pickup - a single-coil mounted on a slant in the neck position. But production models add a bridge humbucker. "I wanted a guitar that sounded really warm and pop, but which required just one box to go dirty," says Love. "And something that could also be your first band guitar. I didn't want it all teched out. I wanted it real simple, with just one pickup switch. Because I think that cultural revolutions are in the hands of the guitar players."

But the Venus had already been discontinued, so where was I going to get one? A local store had a sunburst model in stock for a lot of money, but I wanted a black one, so I started looking around the net. After a while I found (I think it was via a message in one of the Usenet forsale groups, but I seem not to have saved all my correspondence about it) a guy who used to have a guitar store who still had some new Venuses for sale including one black one. I bought it from him for a good price, on December 11 of 1998 UPS delivered it to my house, and it's been my favorite guitar ever since.

In the living room I use it with a Fender Blues Junior amp (it's a nice basic little tube amp -- see if you can find it in the picture at the top of this page -- also, Spinal Tap fans should take note that it goes to twelve!), but most of the time I actually just play it acoustically in my "home office", sitting in front of my computer. This is because I usually practice in the early morning when everyone else in the house is asleep, ala play a little, read a little email, play a little, read a little news, etc. Or sometimes I play it through my computer speakers (I have a guitar cord plugged into my soundcard's microphone port) to play along with MP3s or CDs. And for that matter I just got a "LightSnake" guitar-to-USB cable for it, though I'm not really sure yet what programs would be good to use with it.

I also have a "Beatnik Burgundy" (!) Danelectro HoneyTone mini-amp (of the battery-powered belt-clip variety), but it mainly gets used with the Backpacker on trips, or my iPod in the Cabrillo music lab.

I have a padded Levy's Leathers "hot chili pepper" guitar strap on my Venus, that is very solid and comfortable and looks good too.

*** more later perhaps ***

Fender's own Venus page

Fender took down their Venus page a while after the Venus had been discontinued, but before that I'd saved a copy of it, so here it is:

the Fender Vista logo a Fender Venus trademark graphic
a picture of a Surf Green Fender Venus guitar Venus

Co-designed by Courtney Love and the Fender Custom Shop, this fresh new design embodies unique features and delicious tone! Body: Solid basswood. Neck: Maple; 25.5" scale. Fretboard: Bound rosewood w/22 frets. Electronics: HB pickup (bridge), single coil pickup w/staggered Alnico pole pieces (neck), 3-pos toggle, master volume. Pickguard: White shell. Hardware: 6 saddle adjustable bridge with strings through body design, traditional machine heads, all nickel w/chrome plating. (Gig bag included, U.S. & Canada only). (027-1700-xxx)

Shown in (x57) Surf Green w/matching painted headstock Also available: (x06) Black w/matching painted headstock

Fender's animated-gif slideshow of various guitarists with their Fender guitars

Venus links

First, some general Venus links

Fender's original Summer 1997 news release "Fender Introduces Squier Venus Guitars".

The Venus was part of Fender's "Vista" series of affordable, high-quality guitars made at Fender's now-closed Japanese facility -- take a look at Fender's January 1997 press release introducing the Vista series.

Fender's "The Squier Story" page describes the Venus and Venus XII as "innovative designs with no clear Fender predecessors", and includes a small image of the Venus page from a 1997 Squier catalog. (You can also see a larger version of the catalog page here.)

You can also see a Japanese catalog page for the Venus.

A reader asked about wiring diagrams for the Venus -- when I wrote to Fender about this I got a letter back saying that they didn't have the wiring diagrams, but they did send me faxes of the parts lists for the Venus and Venus XII.

Another reader asked about what kind of space was available under the pickguard for modifications -- while I haven't done anything like that myself, I will note that Harmony Central reviewer "Darragh" says,

the 'swimming pool' routing doesn't allow you to play without a pickguard in the manner of a tele or a jazz bass, but it does give you the huge advantage of an almost infinite scope for modifications, without needing to re-route the body. By only cutting the pickguard you can switch one or both of the pickups to something completely different, or even add a new pickup, you can extra pots and you even have the space to add active electronics

which gives me the idea that there's a lot of space.

Or, wow (!), to really see how much space there is for mods, check out "theorage"'s beautifully-illustrated writeup about the extensive modifications he's done on his four (!) Venus guitars.

Facebook users can join the "I Love My Fender Venus" Facebook group. A second "new style Facebook group" version of it has also been created as a workaround for some admin/password problem with the original group -- interested people are asked to join the new group, but right now most of the content is still on the original group.

Other Venus Facebook pages include the "Venus Squier by Fender Guitar" Facebook fan page, the "Venus Squier by Fender" Facebook group, the Fender Venus Facebook Community Page, the Squier Venus Facebook Community Page, and the Fender Squier Vista Venus Facebook fan page, but at least as of the last time I looked, none of them are really getting used for anything yet.

Matt Kemp's old Vista Series E-zine site seems to have been reborn as a message board. Unfortunately it's been hit pretty hard by offensive spammers, but you can still (once you scroll down past the offensive spam) read and post Venus info and questions in the Venus Owners forum.

In my opinion the best source of really detailed Venus information is Harmony Central's three pages of enthusiastic and comprehensive reviews by Venus players: one page with two reviews, another containing twenty-one reviews, and also a page with six reviews of the Venus XII (the 12-string version of the Venus).

intermusic.com's Venus review goes into a lot of technical detail. And for some reason the same article is also on the Total Guitar Magazine site.

Here's a nice Venus review by Jeff Hendricks.

Guitar Magazine's Venus XII review "Doin' That 12-String Thing".

Check out "Geek Versus Guitar" blogger Paul R. Potts' review Guitar Pron 10: Two Squier Venus Guitars, and his posts Working on the Venus Guitars and Squier Venus Single Coil Demo, the latter of which features his recordings of two Jonathan Coulton songs using the Venus in addition to a picture of a very young Venus player.

In the Fender forums, "twangee" is looking for other Venus XII enthusiasts to talk to.

OffsetGuitars.com has a Fender Venus discussion forum.

Wikipedia's Venus page. Also note their page on Venus co-designers the Fender Custom Shop.

Click here to see the page on the Venus and the other Vista-series models in the book The Fender Book: A Complete History of Fender Electric Guitars (2nd Ed) by Tony Bacon and Paul Day.

Guitar player/blogger Marc O'Hara did a Venus review.

Tim George claims that he and Danny Babbit were the actual designers of the Venus (you have to have a Facebook account to read his posting about this).

YouTube user "kirbyag" put up a "review" (I would just call it a demonstration, I guess) video of him playing his Venus.

And YouTube user "transtremm" has a video demonstrating playing "A Hard Day's Night" on a Venus XII.

In this fifteen-minute "Fender Venus Demo video", YouTube user "grrunger" plays some riffs from Hole songs. Grrunger's YouTube channel also features 18 videos of him playing covers of different Hole songs on his Venus.

Check out MojoMonster's custom Hello Kitty Venus.

The Surf Guitar 101 site has a discussion of the suitability of the Venus for surf and other music styles.

"TaylorPlayer" just bought a Venus and is enjoying it, and created a "Venus God of Love that You Are" forum where you can see some Venus discussion including some videos of Courtney Love playing both a Venus predecessor and a neck-pickup-only Venus.

If you're looking for a Venus to buy, probably your best bet is to check eBay, which usually seems to have one or more up for auction at any given time -- click here to see if they have any right now.

Fender recommends their Jazzmaster/Jaguar hardshell cases for the Venus.

And some Courtney Love-related Venus links

Guitar World's January 1999 article HOLE TONES: Secrets Of Celebrity Skin's Smooth Sound includes Courtney Love's explanation of her design for the Venus, quoted earlier in this page.

Courtney Love had some custom or prototype Venus guitars in non-standard colors like pink, powder blue, and white, but the pictures I used to link to featuring her playing one or another of them seem to be no longer online. Here are some pictures of her playing a black Venus, though: from Hole's own "Kittyradio" site, at the 1999 Glastonbury Festival, the 1999 EdgeFest in Winnipeg, and some SF-Bay-area show. And here are some pictures of her playing a green Venus: one, two, three.

According to a Fender Discussion Page posting by "Blazer":

Courtney's most well known Venus, the baby blue one with the Black pickguard was indeed a Fender custom shop one off. It differed from the Squier version by having a set neck.

But she also used a black Squier Venus (with a replaced Fender branded neck, because she likes to toss her guitars around a lot the Squier neck got damaged) a white Squier Venus, a sunburst Twelve string Venus and (as also used in the video for "Celebrity skin") a Pink Venus which was rather crudely modified with purple lipstick having the word "Dork" written on the upper part of its body.

If you do a YouTube search for Courtney Venus you can find multiple videos featuring Courtney Love playing a Venus in concert, for example this one.

"Drown Soda"'s Vista Venus page includes pictures of Courtney Love playing various Venus guitars.

In this "Venus God of Love that You Are" forum you can see some videos of Courtney Love playing both a Venus predecessor and a neck-pickup-only Venus.

BTW, if you wound up on this page because you're a Courtney Love fan, check out her Salon article "Courtney Love does the math", billed as "The controversial singer takes on record label profits, Napster and "sucka VCs."

BTW again, I saw Courtney Love in concert here in Santa Cruz on October 28, 2004, but darnitall, she didn't play guitar at all during the show, only sang.

Links to some other Venus players

Anne Van Atta

Billy Maguire of paco's virus

Caroline of Bild Lili

Claire Ingram of Ikara Colt (hey, their web site even has a drawing of a Venus in the Flash intro)

Crispian Mills, who even appeared in an ad for the Venus XII

Chicago/Austin experimental music duo Donny Who Loved Bowling has two Venus guitars, one of which you can see on their picture page.

Fiona of Trouble Girl

Heather Matarazzo

Jenny of tuuli

Jenny Lukasik of The Cherry Blasters

Joe Griffin

Judith Gruber of Austrian "family pop rock band" Security

Laura Schreck

Lizzy of Angel Bitch

The Luna Lovegoods

Matt Kemp who does the Vista Series E-zine

Melissa Ivey

Mike Favila of temporary basement

Mike Keane

Natalia Manzocco of Toronto's The Cheap Speakers. You can see pictures of Natalia playing her Venus here and here -- she says "All my guitar-nerd dude friends absolutely love it because it's so easy to play."

Nick Fasulo of Trunk

Rachel Leyco

Sandy of Sandy and the Surfsonics.

Scott Patalano of Mistle Thrush

Shirley Manson of Garbage

Tom Rhoads of Broadside Electric


Victor Vacaloura Rivas López of Os Vacalouras -- watch the videos on the Os Vacalouras YouTube channel to see and hear him playing his Venus with the band. Also, all the tracks on their CD feature him on the Venus.

If you do a YouTube search for Fender Venus you can see some music videos featuring one or more Fender Venus guitars, but it's not always too clear what the artist/band name(s) are.

More later ... send me mail if you're a Venus player and would like me to add you to the above list.

And a few more things ...

For what it's worth, click here to see listings for some guitar books that include information about the Venus. (Note -- these books are definitely not about the Venus -- they're just general guitar books that mention the Venus along with many other guitars.)

I just had to mention a different kind of Fender Venus :-) -- tennis champion Venus Williams plays a '57 Strat. Take a look at this tiny picture of Venus accompanied by sister Serena on drums and this large scan of her playing guitar in a Lady Foot Locker ad.

Daisy Rock also has an electric guitar model called the Venus, as part of their series of guitars designed with young girls in mind. Check it out ...

And Stellar Guitars' line of astronomically-named electric guitars includes five different "Venus" models.

And "US Blues" also has a Venus series of electric guitars -- what can I say, it seems to be a popular name!

Ok, so this is really stretching it, but still ... Luna Guitars' "Diana" series of acoustic/electic guitars and basses are available in "Venus Pink", and Rivera makes Venus 3, Venus 6 112, and Venus 6 212 amps.

Strangely enough, there is now an up-and-coming "semi-fictional, socially responsible cartoon comedy sketch show" named "VistaVenus".

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Last updated August 11, 2013
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