Fernandes Um Jammer Lammy UJL-2000

Year: 2000
Finish: Matte yellow
Origin: Japan
Mods: Tusq nut, Seymour Duncan pickups (with body routing and custom wiring), Planet Waves auto-trim tuners, DiMarzio speed knobs, Schaller straplocks
Acquired: 2004
Still owned: Yes

The Story:
I had been trying to track down a Fernandes Um Jammer Lammy ZO-3/Nomad for a few years when I finally got tired of the near-misses and almosts. I resigned myself to never being able to get one for myself, but my research led me to find the UJL-2000 — not just a guitar with a finish in honor of the game, but a reproduction of the cartoon guitar Lammy actually plays in the game! Trouble was, it was only released in Japan, and I could not find any way to get one.

Turns out I was in luck. One of my coworkers at GamePro, Aki Sugawara, was fluent in Japanese and was willing to help me make email contact with a few guitar stores in Japan; we eventually found one of the few that was willing to work with international customers. I found out that the guitar was not only in stock but kinda dirt cheap. It was a novelty — a short-scale (24″, same as a Fender Mustang) starter guitar made for little girls who liked the videogame and wanted to learn to play as a result. They were not in demand, and it was only about $300, which for guitars ain’t bad. Girlie guitar? I did not care — I wanted it!

It took a few weeks, but it made it through customs and arrived at the local post office. Several of the parts needed improvements; the tuners were terrible, and the P-90s were no great shakes. I knew I wanted to play it on stage, so I bought top-shelf Seymour Duncans and fancy Planet Waves tuners and asked Greg at Orbiter to make it stageworthy.

Greg did more than that — he made it totally custom while keeping it visually identical to how it appears in the game, which was extremely important to me. He routed out the bridge pickup cavity to accommodate  a stacked STK-P1 humbucker in a P-90 casing, making it a SSH configuration even though it looks like three single-coils. Then he came up with a custom wiring job that I believe was inspired by Jimmy Page: The three-way toggle switch handles the two outside pickups like a traditional Les Paul, but the middle pickup is always on. The three knobs then became outer pickup volume, middle pickup volume, and master tone. This way I can dial in as much of the middle P-90 as I like and blend it with either the matching neck P-90 (which, it turns out, sounds godly through a Class-A tube amp), the bridge pickup, or both. Greg has my undying gratitude for this one. Ultimately, I realized I wasn’t really fond of that bridge humbucker, so I put the Seymour set in bridge and middle, and asked Brian Poedy to install a GuitarFetish bridge P90 in the middle instead, and he kept Greg’s blend knob wiring. It’s got bite and growl.

The final customization is subtle but my favorite: blue DiMarzio speed knobs. They look bigger and even more cartoony than the stock blue Strat-style knobs that came with it, but there’s an added bonus upon close inspection: They go to 11.

With international shipping, all those upgraded parts, and labor, I’ve probably got about $700 invested. Worth. Every. Penny. Until someone comes forward, I believe I have the only one in America — and it’s certainly the only one with these kind of customizations.

I was profiled in an issue of PSM3 some years back because of this guitar, and it’s the main guitar I play in the video for “Arcade Gaming Shrine.” And to date, only one person at a live show has recognized this guitar for its true origin — even though the game’s logo is on the headstock!

Fernandes UJL-2000