In the early ’80s, Fender became interested in building instruments that would be viewed as high-quality alternatives to Gibson. Not copies, but highly playable guitars with versatile electronics and features. The company asked Smith for a concept, and what followed was an adventure to a line unique to Fender’s catalog.
Two of Smith’s designs were chosen for production – the Flame and the Esprit, with alder bodies routed with tone chambers, along with maple tops and set necks.
The Flame’s body is slightly larger than Gibson’s Les Paul and has slightly offset cutaways similar to the SG. Two special-design humbucking pickups were developed via Schaller, as was a tailpiece with fine-tuners. The intent was to offer an electronically versatile alternative to the Les Paul.