Fender Hot Rod 52 Telecaster

Fender obviously have a pang for vintage in 2007 – So far among their new releases we have seen the Hot Rod ’62 Stratocaster, ’57 Relic Stratocaster, HotRod 57 Strat, ‘60’s Closet Strat – the telecaster isn’t missing in this plethora of Vintage gear – as part of the Hot Rod series – Fender have introduced the Vintage Hot Rod ’52 Telecaster. However rather than just introducing another vintage replica range – this release looks set to meld vintage with contemporary with Vintage styling and hardware mixed with modern features such as pickups and other fixtures and fittings.

Based on a Ash body, U shaped one piece maple neck the hot rod has a lot of similarities with the standard tele however Fender have dipped into it’s archives for the looks with Fenders apparently targeting those wanting their vintage build quality and components but with the benefits of today’s modern pickups – (Fender have also tinckered with the neck adding modern Medium Jumbo Frets for a more modern playing feel..)

Seymore Duncan’s mini humbuckers aim to bridge the gap between traditional single coils and their humbucker counterparts – the result is a brighter tone that should suit the Tele to a tee and should add a tad more versatility to this classic.

With a RRP of around $2,000 there are some cheaper Telecaster’s around, however we think there’s enough here to interest those seasoned Telecaster lovers who want that little bit extra.

For more info check out Fender.com

The Fender Jaguar

fenderjaguarFender released the Fender Jaguar in the early 1960′s. Although stylistically similar to its sibling the Fender Stratocaster – the body is more angular and features the same “offset waist” as the Jazzmaster upon which the Jaguar was based.

The original Jaguar featured a dual circuit system featuring pickup selector switches (which turned the pickups on or off) and a high pass filter switch that accentuated the treble sound of the guitar. The guitar has two single coil pickups designed specifically for the Jaguar and they provide a broad tonal range (although its pickups can get quite noisy when overdriven and are prone to feedback).

The guitar’s sound can be somewhat of an acquired taste as it differs from both Fenders Stratocaster and Telecaster with it’s mid range sound setting it apart. This difference is part of the guitars appeal and its later resurgence in the alt.rock niche relied much on the guitars unique sound.

The guitar features a shorter 22 fret neck together with a spring loaded rubber string mute and floating tremolo system. The tremolo system, which was unique to the Jaguar and Jazzmaster was not a success and was dogged by design flaws such as inadequate saddles, however the tremolo was of the locking variety and therefore protected the guitars tuning during string breakages.

The Jaguar never gained the popularity of the Stratocaster or the Telecaster and Fender eventually discontinued the guitar in the early 1970′s. After a resurgence in it’s usage by artists such as Nirvana (Kurt Cobain was often pictured with a Jaguar), Fender restarted production in the 1990′s and the guitar is still produced today and remains popular with artists who are looking for a different sound whilst still requiring the quality of a Fender instrument

Fender Mustang

fendermustangThe Fender Mustang, designed by Leo Fender, was originally released in the early 1960′s and was based on an earlier Fender guitar the Fender Musicmaster (the Mustang differs by having a vibrator tailpiece). Like the Musicmaster, the Mustang was aimed at the “guitar student” market and in comparison to its stable mates was less expensive (it’s original cost was around $150).

The basic specifications for the Fender Mustang featured a Mahogany body, 24″ scale neck with 22 Frets. The Mustang also featured a “dynamic vibrato” similar to that found on the Fender Jaguar. During the 1960′s the guitar went through several iterations. These modifications included varying colors and body contours, different tuning pegs and smaller headstock.

The Fender Mustang comes with two single coil pickups that each feature a three way pickup selector which allow the pickup to be turned on or off or placed into Phase mode. These switches were often criticised as while the guitar was being played they could be inadvertently switched off. A solution to this was place tape over the switches to keep them in position.

Although the quality of its pickups have often been criticised the guitar is able to produce some respectable clean tones although can be noisy when overdriven. The Mustang is often seen as a “surf music” guitar due to the sounds it is able to produce.

Fender originally discontinued the Mustang in the 1980′s however reissued it a decade later after as a result of its popularity with grunge and punk bands prevalent at the time.

Many artists have been associated with the Mustang such as Kurt Cobain, Shakira and Blur’s Graham Coxon and its continued use ensures that the guitar remains a favourite of the Fender stable.

Visit the Fender Website for more information on the Fender Mustang Guitar

Fender Stratocaster

The Fender Statocaster was designed by the Fender Guitar company during the 1950′s. Production line Stratocasters were first sold during the mid 1950′s for around $250. The basic model came with a two-tone ‘sunburst’ finish, chrome hardware, and plastic components.

The Stratocaster is an extreemely versatile instrument. The guitar has 3 pickups placed at the neck, middle, and bridge and help generate a wide range of tones. As such the Stratocaster is used in a wide range of musical styles from country to rock. Guitarists such from Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton through to U2′s The Edge to Robert Cray loved the versatility it bought. An early-model Stratocaster, was used by Buddy Holly’s, and he was among the first players to help the Fender Stratocaster become the standard in rock and roll.

Other manufacturers began imitating Fenders innovations and styles almost immediately and today there are many companies that produce this style of guitar. Usually the Statocaster style guitar has a bolt on neck, all tuners on the top of the headstock, a twin cutaway body, 3 single coil pickups, and a tremelo. However there are many derivatives

These days, Fender offers a huge array of vintage Stratocasters, modern varients and reissues. They have many factories supplying guitars from all over the world. In common with many other guitar manufacturers Fender also offers Artist Series guitars, which feature accurate replicas of the Stratocasters played by famous guitarists.

Fender Guitars

Fender Telecaster

The Telecaster was developed by the Fender Guitar company in the late 1940′s. It is a dual-pickup, solid-body electric guitar. It was first retailed during the early 1950′s and it was the first guitar of its kind to be produced on a substantial scale.

Telecaster’s typically have two pickups, a slightly smaller headstock than the stratocaster, and a 3 way pickup selector.

The Telecaster is known for its bright, cutting tone. The bridge pickup is placed at a slant and this helps enhance the guitar’s treble tone. These sound of the Telecaster allowed musicians to emulate steel guitar sounds, making it particularly useful in country music. Telecasters are sometimes fitted with a string bending device that enables a smooth change of pitch reminiscent of a lapsteel guitar.

Many Telecasters have a string through body, and it’s has a unique ‘tele’ sound when the middle position on the pickup selector is selected. This activates both pickups and give that unique telecaster sound.

Many famous guitarists have played the telecaster from Prince through to Bruce Springsteen including a plethora of country players.

Fender Thinline Telecaster

thinlineteleThe Fender Thinline Telecaster is all about tone. Similar to the standard Telecaster the thinline is big on twang. The guitar has an instantly identifiable subtle tone, which is able to be pushed if necessary to produce a more grittier sound whilst always maintaining it’s character and warmth.

The thinline telecaster is a semi-hollow-body design which was originally an attempt to reduce the weight of the solid-body Telecaster guitar.

The Fender Thinline telecaster features 22 frets and American Standard pickups together with an ash body one piece maple neck.

With Fenders unstinting eye for quality the guitar adds a subtle spin on the traditional telecaster broadening the tonal range whilst keeping it’s feet firmly in the family traditions.

Fender Cyclone

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

Fender Toronado

toronadoOver the years Fender have had a rich association with rock music – a number of seriously heavy rock acts such as Iron Maiden – Hendrix to name a few have used Fenders but it must irk a little that for serious rock muso’s a Gibson Les Paul is what they grab for – so with the Toronado Fender have taken a number of design innovations to their standard template in an attempt to make the guitar appeal to those players who wouldn’t normally go for a Fender

The first thing you notice when you glance at a Toronado is that it looks unlike any other Fender whilst being strangely familiar – the butt of the guitar is contoured like a strat and coupled with the offset waist it’s nice and comfortable to rest on your knee when you want to pick it up to play but the rest of the design is fairly angular and seems strangely reminiscent of some hybrid – Jaguar/Explorer combo – hardware wise well purists would argue that it’s laid out as rock guitar should be twin humbuckers (in this case Atomic Humbuckers) – two tone – two volume controls – and a pickup selector switch – the bridge is served by a Adjusto-Matic™ Bridge with Anchored-Tailpiece.

The body is made from Alder and comes in a range of colors set off by a Polyester finish and the neck is maple with a rosewood 22 fret fingerboard with a 9.5” radius – the frets are medium jumbo’s. Hardware is chrome and the body is finished with a typical Fender style pick guard.

As with most Fender’s the build quality is pretty good – one cutback has been the use of standard vintage tuner’s – perhaps we’re nitpicking but we always like to see locking tuners to keep that stability – especially if your gonna rock out – you may as well do it in tune.

As we said at the start – the Toronado is aimed at the rock market – with the Atomic Humbucker Fender have clearly kitted out the guitar with that in mind the pickups offer a gutsy mid range with plenty of bottom end. Turned up high with a loud amp – they can get a little noisy.

Being aimed at the “Les Paul” community it’s unsurprising that the Toronado has some similarities – the pickups are pretty meaty but don’t stretch all the way into the Les Paul sound – perhaps more like a P90 tone with an unmistakable Fender quality – a fair degree of warmth coupled with a full sound – a little bassy perhaps – whilst the pickups don’t have the loudest output by any means they do the job well – the neck pickup provides an excellent workhorse for rhythm tones and the bridge pickups adds that extra bite for solo’s – add some overdrive and you’ve got a lovely creamy tone – great for rock or blues the tone/volume options add versatility and if you do need a bit of range we think that the Toronado would make an excellent guitar for a covers band.

With it’s distinct look the Toronado is really something different from the Fender stable – while there tackling an established market – the guitar offers quite a bit – in both tone and versatility and with a RRP of around the $500 dollar mark that’s a fairly cheap price to pay for a “badged” instrument offering the Fender quality.

For more info check out the Fender Guitar website

Fender 50′s Esquire

50s-esquireOriginally Introduced in 1950, the Fender Esquire represents a classic era in Fender Design – fender state that the Esquire is “one of the most sought after instruments” in the Telecaster range the Esquire has a rich association with a range of fine guitarists including Jeff Beck and Bruce Springsteen.

Available in a range of colors ((301) White Blonde, (303) 2-Color Sunburst, (306) Black, and featuring a Polyester Finish the Esquire features a Ash body – one piece “c” shaped maple neck and maple fingerboard (with a 7.5” radius) – the neck features 21 vintage style frets – controls are provided through a three way selector switch, Master Volume and Master Tone controls – finished off with chrome hardware the guitar comes with a traditional thru-body tele bridge and vintage style tuning pegs.

Armed with a single Vintage Style Single-Coil Tele Pickup with Alnico Magnets in the Bridge position the Esquire has unique circuitry that supports three preset tones – via a pickup selector switch Fender state that “In the bridge position, the pickup is connected only to the volume control (the tone control is disconnected); this minimal circuitry produces more top-end sparkle than is possible with a Telecaster. In the middle position, the standard tone control circuit is activated. In the neck position, the tone control is again disengaged, but a tone-shaping capacitor rolls off much of the top end and some bottom, producing a darker tone and slight volume loss.”

Unplugged the Esquire is lively and responsive, the Ash body provides a nice amount of sustain, and before you plug it in to any amp it exudes a bright tone with plenty of response. Comfortable to hold, and with the ash body fairly light, yet built like a tank – you can see the body and thick paint job taking a hammering before showing any sign of wear.

Outwardly this Fender 50′s Esquier is as simple as it gets, you could argue, somewhat successfully, that its tonal range is smaller than many, but perhaps that would be missing the point – the Esquire was designed to accurately recreate that classic tele tone – plenty of sparkle and spank – and in our view it delivers that in spades.

The single bridge pickup is wonderfully clear as you’d expect whilst it delivers the traditional tele twang with aplomb with the added circuitry you’ve got a few more options – while it’s great for country – with the selector switch in bypass mode and with a bit of oomph from your amp – the esquire can scream with the best of them – nothing new from a Tele perhaps but satisfying nonetheless.

So with this Mexican issue – fender have taken a nod towards it’s history and given it a modern spin – for all Tele lover’s out there – do yourselves a favor – get one!

For more info check out the Fender Guitar website

J5 Triple Tele Deluxe preview

j5previewFirst off for those of you not in the know – J5 (or John Lowery to give him his proper name) is a rock guitarist who has played with the likes of Marilyn Manson, Dave Lee Roth (you know – the guy who used to be in Van Halen!) – currently playing for heavy rocker Rob Zombie. He’s had a signature with Fender for a while now and the J5 Triple Tele Deluxe sees a 2007 update.

Ok so after setting that scene – what of the J5 Telecaster? well from the visuals it’s a little like a Telecaster on steroids. You can’t miss the black and chrome contrast it not only looks great but also adds a little character – it says “yep I’m a telecaster – but not as you know it”. Based on a Alder body with bound top and back, with a Maple neck, rosewood fingerboard (with 22 Medium Jumbo Frets) all seems pretty straightforward.

The first thing you notice is that this is no ordinary Telecaster – pickup wise it’s got three chrome covered Enforcer pickups – an American Synch Tremolo unit and a pretty far out looking pick guard. Clearly it’s aimed at the rockers out there. On closer inspection Fender have also added a Strat style headstock, the three way pickup switch is where you’d expect to find it on a Les Paul. From the visuals it looks the part

The Enforcer pickups are designed for high output lead work (you can find these pickups, without the chrome coverings, on some of Fender’s Showmaster guitars). And should add enough sonic possibilities to please most. Controls are based on the Telecaster standard – one volume and one tone.

Released in January 2007 the J5 Triple Tele Deluxe certainly won’t please purists and won’t be for everyone but if your looking for a metal-lead guitar and want something with a little character then it’s worth checking out.

For more info check out Fender.com

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