cycloneLooking somewhat like a stretched Stratocaster – the Fender Cyclone is aimed at those Fender lovers who like their sound a little more alternate – a tinge more punkier. Differing from it’s Stratocaster brethren with it’s mix of single coil and humbucker pickups it also got a whacked out visual style about it. Taking a look at it and it’s undoubtedly got that alt.rock look about it – somewhat unique looking with it’s offset body betraying it’s close relation to the Fender Mustang

Based on an alder body (with a polyester finish) the Cylone has a scale length of 24.75” – the neck is maple and has a rosewood 9.5” fingerboard mounted with 22 “Medium Jumbo” Frets. The hardware is pretty basic for a Fender – and as the Cyclone has a retail price of only $469 the guitar is clearly aimed at the budget Fender owners and as such some of the hardware choices reflect that – the Tremolo system for example struggles to stay in tune with anything more than a teasing vibrato and the Tuners (Fender Vintage Style Machines) lack the robustness of locking tuners – however these are common place with guitars of a similar price and won’t upset the beginner – for the more astute however these may be a nagging compromise that will need to be swapped out.

Electrics wise it has one volume and one tone control – pickups are provided by a tex-mex single coil in the neck position and a “atomic humbucker” in the bridge. The tex-mex is nicely done and is very reminiscent of that sweet Strat sound (look closely and you’ll see it’s fitted in some of Fender’s Strats) however one issue that the Fender Cyclone has is that the pickups are quite meaty and aren’t that well balanced – the Atomic Humbucker pickup in the bridge is noticeably louder than the neck pickup and you need to be tread carefully when switching between the two mid song and with the selector switch mid position the neck pickup is easily drowned out by it’s humbucking sibling this has a big impact on the guitar’s versatility – it may be great for those practicing at home wanting to switch from rhythm (neck) to solo (bridge) but for a live situation the imbalance in volumes could be a bit of a pain.

However taking this slight niggle into account – sound wise the Cyclone produces a nice crisp punky tone with a good mid-range punch – the cyclone is certainly aiming at a alt.rock niche and it does this well – sought of like a cross between a Strat and Les Paul – the humbucker gives plenty of growly tones and the guitar offers enough sustain to please those vintage rockers out there – I’d question it’s versatility – with the two different pickups – the lack of two tone controls is a big drawback – but if you go for the cyclone your probably not going to want to swap between jazz and country – likely your going to want the tones it offers out of the box, which it does with it’s own panache.

For a relatively inexpensive guitar – and something that isn’t your usual staple Fender (i.e. Strat or Tele) the Cyclone has quite a few things going for it – there are some niggles too – and your advice (as ever) is to play before you buy – but if your after a different tone and want the visuals then the Cyclone may well be worth a look.

For more info check out the Fender Guitar website

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