Fernandes ZO-3 UJL

Year: 1999
Finish: Um Jammer Lammy graphic
Origin: Japan
Acquired: 2004
Mods: Schaller straplocks
Still owned: Yes

The Story:
I really enjoyed PaRappa the Rapper on PlayStaton, but Um Jammer Lammy was even cooler, because hey, the lead character was a punk rock chick who played guitar! As a promotional gift, Sony sent out these specially painted UJL Fernandes ZO-3 travel guitars (MilkCan is the name of Lammy’s band — and that hole in the middle is a built-in speaker) to some of the game publications at the time, and GamePro was one of them. For years I tried to get it from editor-in-chief Wes Nihei, but he’s a guitarist too and never wanted to sell or trade it to me. I wound up getting a non-Lammy ZO-3 deluxe model, known in the US as the Fernandes Nomad, but the game geek in me was always on the lookout. Later I heard from Tips & Tricks’ Chris Bieniek, who wanted to know how to reposition the strap button for better balance on his Lammy ZO, and PC Gamer’s Greg Vederman somehow wound up with one in his closet, too. He didn’t play it, but he wouldn’t sell it to me either. Bastard.

I finally found one on eBay and it turned out a friend was selling it – Greg Off had recently vacated his post at PSExtreme and was cleaning out his office and mentally moving on. I dropped him a note, told him the story, and said I’d be bidding, but I didn’t expect him to end the auction early. Sure enough, it became a bidding war with some other guy. I knew that new, they would be about $300, so when we got up that far, I let the other guy have it and told Greg that I was glad he got maximum value for it. I licked my wounds and got serious about getting the other Lammy model I’d heard about instead.

Greg soon wrote back and said “Um, hey, this sounds fishy.” Sure enough, someone was trying “the Nigerian scam” where the winning bidder says they’re out of the country, but through a friend, they promise to send you a cashier’s check for more than the price of the item if you send them back the difference. Problem is, the check is bad, so you wind up sending them the item and money. Good scam if it works, but Greg was too smart. Sure enough, that same bidder had won several auctions that had the word “collectible” or “rare” in the title, and had defaulted on all of them. So I worked out a private deal to buy it directly from him – at last! And since when it rains it pours, I ultimately wound up with both Fernandes Um Jammer Lammy guitars. Ya gotta believe!

The ZO-3 now lives in a miniature Coffin Case that was originally designed for Guitar Hero controllers. It’s funnier that way.