World Music Supply | Fender Pawn Shop Guitars

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again, to bring you another healthy dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s review I got the chance to check out some to look at some slightly older members of the Pawnshop Family of instruments from Fender. Way back when I covered the Fender Pawnshop series, I had to start with the models that had just come out on the market, the Jaguarillo, the reverse Jaguar, the Mustang special etc. The reason I’m bringing this up, is because I didn’t get the chance at the time to review the flagship models, the 51, and the 72, now that I finally had some spare time, I sat down and ran these two wonderful guitars through their paces.

The Fender 51 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

The Fender 51 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

First up is the 51, which was based off of the unexpectedly successful Squier 51, and is a strange Tele, Strat hybrid that looks like an old 51 P bass scaled down to a normal guitar size. I personally loved this guitar with its weird switching system, and no tone control. It took everything I loved about the Squier and supersized it. Fender gave it a hotter humbucker in the bridge, a bolder sounding neck pickup, and a much cleaner, and more intuitive switching system, with a more balanced and dynamic tone. The inclusion of the push pull knob, for splitting the humbucker into a cutting single coil instead was also a nice touch.

Running through a clean amp, this guitar certainly has a very Telecaster style sound to it, with more twang and bite on tap than any of the other members of the Pawn shop family. The neck was easy to play, and with the slightly thicker U shaped neck it certainly felt a lot more vintage than many Fenders rolling off the line nowadays. The comfort of bending on this neck, and the loose feel of it all really lent itself to playing fast, and cleanly, something that I always look for in new guitars.

Running through a dirty amp however, with the bridge pickup in humbucker mode, really took this guitar out of Tele territory, and turned it into a more modern sounding axe, able to throw down hard rock and even metal riffs with the best of them. The bridge in both positions had body, but still loads of cut to it, while the neck pickup was smooth and straty, with lots of roundness to the tone that never made the guitar sound wooly or overly bass heavy. This guitar can hang with anyone, rockers, country, blues guys, heck if you get it in black it can probably hold its own with a metal band, the 51 can really do it all and its because of this that I award it a solid 10 out of 10.

The Fender 72 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

The Fender 72 Pawn Shop Stratocaster

Next up is the 72, which is the natural evolution of the 51, taking the one third Tele, one third P bass, and one third Strat formula, and switching the telecaster part of the formula from a standard butterscotch Tele, and instead replacing it with the Thinline Tele, which leant its semi hollow F-hole equipped body, its 70’s esc colors, and its fullrange humbucker to the 51 formula, thus creating the beauty we call the 72. Most of the controls remain the same, with the single volume, no tone, and a blend knob to slide between pickup combinations.

The clean tone of the 72 was far, smoother than the 51. With a more mellow tone, without as much snap and twang on tap, this guitar has an almost jazz box like tone to it. With its crisp, round highs, and its tight, tubby low end this guitar has as tone to it that very few do. The bridge pickup was just as beefy but with a slightly more airy quality to it, thanks to the added resonance of the semi-hollow body. The neck pickup, when used alone, and when used with touches of the bridge pickup had a very big sound, with lots of beefy low end, but crystal clear highs, something that you really don’t find with any humbucker but the Fender wide range.

Running into a dirty amp this all still held true, with the bridge pickup sounding just as heavy and destructive as ever. While the neck pickup remained clear and pristine with all of the added harmonics of the distorted channel, but with all of the shimmer and shine that it had in the clean position. This guitar could easily get metal too, and the amount of feedback resistance in this guitar was amazing, as it took way more volume then I could even stand. Tuning it down, and turning the gain up, I was amazed at how metal this guitar really sounded with all of the searing, screaming power of the bridge pickup, and even the neck pickup remained pristine even at these high gain levels, truly amazing. The 72 in my book is one amazing machine, and it easily deserves a 10 out of 10 rating.

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World Music Supply | Fender Squier Vintage Modified

Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here yet again to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar news. In today’s review we’re going to cover some cool guitars from the Fender Squier Vintage Modified line of guitars. Squier came up in the midst of the CBS ownership of Fender, first coming into being in the mid 60’s as a company that would produce strings for Fender guitars, it wasn’t until 1982 that Squier guitars became a reality. You see, at the time, Fender was having a tough time competing with the huge number of Japanese made Fender copies that were flooding the market, as now anyone could have a guitar that looked and roughly sounded like a Stratocaster, for a tenth the price.

Fender did their best to compete, with lines like the Lead series which was an attempt for American made instruments to meet a similar price point as their Japanese made counter parts, the problem was, people weren’t buying. Fender soon realized that if you can’t beat them, you need to join them, and they bought up a factory in Japan to begin producing cheaper variants of their U.S made guitars under the name Squier.

The initial idea of creating Fender guitars that anyone could afford has stuck with us through the years, and though their factories have migrated, with some being made in Indonesia, Korea, and even a few in the USA, Squier has always delivered on creating great sounding, and great playing guitars at an affordable price. The Vintage modified series is a great example of this fact, as they are guitars based around an excentric grab bag of classic Fender style and function. Reflecting the myriad of modifications that people have made to their beloved Fenders over the years, the Vintage modified series was designed to give players what they normally would only be able to get from either pawn shops, or through hours and hours of rewiring, and in some cases, wood working their classic Fender instruments.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Surf Stratocaster Red

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Surf Stratocaster Red

First up in today’s review, is the Squier Surf Stratocaster which is exactly like a typical Strat, except that instead of the typical staggered pole pieces, features retro style lipstick tube pickups. Lipstick pickups are a very straightforward style of pickup, with a cool history, and an even cooler sound. See back in the 60’s, a company called Danelectro needed to keep costs down on their new line of solid body guitars; they did everything from making guitars out of masonite and plywood, to using surplus lipstick tubes as the housing for their pickups. Now while plywood guitars never caught on, the strange, jangly sound of lipstick pickups did. They have a very round tone to them, with a very mellow bass response, full sounding mids, and a very smooth treble tone to them, that helped shape their distinctive surf tone.

This guitar is called the Surf Stratocaster for this very reason, as it has all of the jangle and smooth attack that a 60’s surf band could ever dream of. While it for all intents and purposes looks and feels like your typical Stratocaster, plugged in it certainly has a totally different sound. The sound is definitely more transparent than your typical single coil, with less of a twangy edge, and a very smooth attack that is so round, it’s almost jazzy in its execution. Plugged into a Randall RT503H with the reverb cranked, and the bright switch engaged, this guitar suddenly had all of the cool swinging surf tones that made bands like the shadows and Dick Dale and the Deltones so famous back in their day. The smooth, round tone is very reminiscent of a typical single coil tone, but at the same time, has its own character and strengths.

The strength of the pickup is the fact that it is very clear sounding, with a roundness that is defined and smooth, which translates to chords that are very clear, with each string ringing out with a clear and distinct voice. This is useful, as you can drench the amp in reverb and delay, and still have plenty of clarity in your notes. However, this clarity can also prove to be a problem when you crank the amp, as those crystal clear tones tend to distort in an odd way.

Overdrive this guitar has a character that is wholly unique, and if you’ve ever played a guitar with lipstick pickups, you should know what I mean. Where typical single coils follow the telecaster strategy of having a very bright, and twangy pickup in the bridge, and a more “acoustic” sounding neck pickup, the lipstick pickup is warm and clear across its whole range. Sure the neck is warmer sounding than the bridge, and you can still get some twang out of the bridge, it certainly doesn’t have nearly as much snap as a typical strat pickup in the same position. This means that when it distorts it has a very fluid sound, which is good for single note runs, and lightly overdriven chords, but doesn’t lend itself as well to drop tuned power chords quite as well. While this guitar does have a very unique sound, with a clarity and warmth that is hard to find in many modern guitars, it won’t suit the needs of many hardcore, or straight ahead rock guitarists, but if you’re an alternative guitarist, a lover of surf rock, or just someone who wants a strat that is a little outside of the norm, this guitar gets a solid 9 out of 10.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster

Next up, is the Vintage Modified Telecaster, with its more or less classic tele features, but adding in some cool Fender approved mojo. First thing that you are sure to notice is the oversized early 60’s style Jazzmaster headstock. The second thing you are sure to notice is that the typical nickel covered neck pickup has been replaced with the giant neck pickup off of a Jazzmaster, and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, these giant pickups were not modeled on P90 pickups as many believe, but rather based on steel guitar pickups, aiming to have a much wider frequency response with a clearer, more direct sound.

Through an amp this guitar certainly delivers on that idea, with all of the snap and treble of a tele in the bridge, and all of the jazzy, hollowbody esc tones you typically get from a Jazzmaster in the neck. This design feels like something that would have made Leo Fender laugh back in the day, as it combines two markets that he viewed were completely separate from one another, the Telecaster with its country style spank and swagger, and the Jazzmaster with it’s artsy tones, and crystal clear response. Oddly enough the marriage of the two seems to have worked out wonderfully, as this guitar certainly has all of what you would want from both guitars.

Through a clean amp, this guitar delivers all of the classic Tele tones, but you also can creep into the world of jazz guitar by switching to the neck, or live in a strange world in between the two in the middle position. The middle actually proved to create a very distinct, and frequency rich tone combining the clear twang of the brass plated bridge pickup, with the bell like sound of the neck, making a very round, and warm tone. Strumming chords proved to create an almost acoustic guitar like attack, with plenty of percussive bite, but at the same time, long bell like sustain.

Switching to a dirtier channel, this guitar had a life all its own. The swampy textures of the bridge pickup contrast nicely with the smooth, spacey textures of the Jazzmaster neck pickup. The two together create a sort of “super Tele” kind of sound, with far more of that round neck pickup tone in the mix than a typical Tele. This guitar even distorts well thanks to the typically aggressive quality of the Tele bridge pickup, which takes distortion and over drive with ease, and the neck pickup sounds amazing as well, with a very round tone that sustains for days. The Jazzmaster neck is appropriately comfortable, and fast, allowing you to travel effortlessly along its length. The Vintage Modified Telecaster has a very beautiful voice which would be at home in any situation either of its parents, the Tele or the Jazzmaster would be acceptable in, from country to alternative, to even jazz, this guitar can do almost anything. If you’re looking for a cool Tele with a slightly different voice, this guitar could very well be it. It’s thanks to this versatility that the Vintage Modified Telecaster earns itself a 9 out of 10.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster Sunburst

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster Sunburst

Last up in today’s review, is the Vintage Modified Stratocaster with the Duncan Designed Humbucker in the bridge. This guitar is a veritable dream team of classic Stratocaster design. From the oversized 70’s style head stock, the classic finishes from charcoal metallic, black and classic three tone sunburst, and the engraved neck plate. The genius of this guitar, is it takes a mod that became so common that it eventually became an actual standard guitar for Fender, the Fat Strat, the idea of placing a hot humbucker in the bridge to fatten up the guitar might not be anything new, but what is new is the fact that this guitar uses three Duncan designed pickups.

The Duncan designed pickups are blisteringly hot, which allows this guitar to play all of those classic Strat sounds, but still have all of the punch and clarity that a modern guitarist would need. Playing this guitar through a clean amp was a treat, as the pickups can easily nail all of those classic clean Strat tones, but at the same time are powerful enough to drive most amps into that weird almost overdriven, yet still clean world that Strat players love to live in.

This guitar also can live in the purely distorted realm with no problem, as the hotter pickups allow it to lay down big down tuned chords with ease and play flutey lead tones for days. This guitar can live in any world it chooses, from snappy hot country licks, blues runs, rock & roll rhythms, or searing metal chops, this guitar can do it all. For that fact alone, this guitar easily earns itself a 10 out of 10.  

World Music Supply | Fender Pawn Shop

Hey Guys, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply and I’m here to talk to you about the new line of Fender Pawnshop Guitars. By now we’re all at least semi-familiar with this new line of Fender guitars, but if you aren’t, let me fill you in. The Pawnshop line is in Fender’s own words are “guitars that never were but should have been.” They’re patterned after some of the more eccentric models that were produced during the latter years of Pre-CBS Fender, when they were coming out with models like the electric XII, the Musiclander, the Marauder, the Bass VI and let’s not forget the Starcaster or the Coronado.
 

          In truth though, the first line of these guitars, the 51 and the 72 are based off of the unexpectedly successful Squier 51, a strange Tele, Strat hybrid that looked like an old 51 P bass scaled down to a normal guitar size. I personally loved the Squier version, with its weird switching system, and no tone control. The fender model though? It took everything I loved about the Squier and supersized it. Fender gave it a hotter humbucker in the bridge, a bolder sounding neck pickup, and a much cleaner, and more intuitive switching system, and don’t even get me started on the 72. I am in love with that guitar, and if they offered it in fiesta red, I would pick one up in a heartbeat….but I digress. Now, Fender has created a new set of wild, retro looking guitars. The Pawn Shop line now includes the Offset Special, the Jaguarillo, a reverse Jaguar bass, and the Mustang Special.

The Fender Offset Special

The Fender Offset Special

 

Let’s start first with the Offset Special, the strange, mutant love child of a Fender Jazzmaster, and what looks like a Stratocaster. You want a weird and quirky guitar? This guitar has it in spades. The Jazzmaster has always been one of my favorite guitars, made as an attempt by Mr. Leo Fender to try and diversify his company away from making “country” guitars, he made what he figured jazz guitarists would love, big, full sounding pickups, a floating tremolo, and a circuit just for the neck pickup, so you could get two different flavors of smooth tone. Problem was…jazz guitarists tend to be a pretty conservative bunch, and they didn’t want any part of it.

    The only people to give the model recognition were surf guitarists during the 60’s, but they soon migrated back to their Stratocasters with the success of bands like The Shadows and Dick Dale, and when Fender came out with the Jaguar, the Jazzmaster fell into disuse and mediocrity. It wasn’t until bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth got their hands on these old relics that Leo had designed for jazz guitarists, now found acceptances by post rockers and grunge players alike. So why did I go through this short history lesson on the Jazzmaster? Well I want to point out just how weird the Offset Special is. They took most of the hardware from the Jazzmaster, one of their least successful guitars of all time, and mated it with the Stratocaster, arguably one of their finest guitars of all time, and what do we end up with? Something amazing, a guitar with all the smooth tone and class of a Jazzmaster, and all the power and playability of a Strat. So in short, what do you get with the Offset Special? We get a hollow, offset, Strat style body, with big steel guitar style pickups, a floating tremolo, and a 21 fret Strat style neck, and the sounds of this thing is huge! It’s like a cross between a Gretch Country Gentleman, and a Jazzmaster. Thanks to the hollow body, and the shorter distance from the tremolo to the bridge, the Offset Special defiantly sounds bigger then a normal Jazzmaster, a bit fuller, a bit rounder, and the floating trem lends itself well to smooth jazzy bends. I love the period correct style of the guitar, what with it looking like a cross between a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a 72 Tele, the Offset Special has something for everybody. I give it an 8 out of 10 stars, because even though it does have a very distinct tone thanks to the Jazzmaster style pickups which are well suited to country, jazz and certain brands of alternative rock, that same distinctive tone that gives it that signature shimmer and spank, might not lend themselves to heavier styles of music as well. 

The Fender Jaguarillo

The Fender Jaguarillo

          Next up is the Jaguarillo, my personal favorite of the new line up, because its just one of those “really why didn’t they do that sooner?” kind of designs. I’ve seen people do this with Jaguars for years, take out bridge pickup and replace it with a humbucker. By itself that would be enough to make the Jaguarillo a great little guitar, but pair that with a much simpler switching system and a slanted HSS configuration, and you have one monster of a guitar. The Jazzmaster style trem is well suited to bigsby style flutter, or some light vibrato. The HSS configuration is slanted, meaning it makes the low strings sound a little fatter, and the high strings a tiny bit brighter, so it sounds like a Strat, just with a little wider range of tones.  Lastly, something about the offset pickups and the simplified control scheme, just makes this guitar look so, so good. Out of the new pawnshop line up, I like the Jaguarillo the best, especially in the faded sonic blue, easily  9 out of 10 stars, simply because some people might have reservations about buying a guitar with slanted pickups. Regardless, the Jaguarillo looks and sounds amazing!

The Fender Mustang Special

The Fender Mustang Special

Then, rounding out the Pawnshop Guitar line is the Mustang Special. Now this is something I’ve been hoping fender would do for a long time, introduce a nice small guitar again. Sure I loved the old Mustang, but that tremolo unit on it always frustrated me, sure it worked, but it was just so tedious to maintain, and though I love the sound of fender single-coils, on an instrument this small, they just sounded a tad too bright even for my tastes. So the addition of a good hardtail bridge and some nice fender full-range humbuckers is just what this guitar deserves. The Mustang style switching system is still there, but now with the more powerful pickups, its given a whole new twist of being able to do strange coil tapping, where you can either have the back, or front pickup of the humbucker. Overall I give it a 9 out of 10, because even though I love it, I’m sure a Fender purist is going to be mad that the mustang trem and phase switching isn’t there. This guitar sounds amazing though, purists aside, and I’m glad that Fender finally has a good sounding, and good looking little guitar again, and at an affordable price.

The Fender Reverse Jaguar Bass

The Fender Reverse Jaguar Bass

Now a strange turn for the line is the more modern flavor of the new Reverse Jaguar Bass. Featuring a Fender high mass modern bridge, a bigblock humbucker in the neck, a reverse jaguar special humbucker in the bridge, and a short-ish scale 32” neck with a reverse headstock and trust me, this thing sounds massive. I like the shorter scale length, but I also like that they didn’t go as low as 30” like fender used to with the mustang basses, which always sounded a little dark to me. This thing though? It’s the perfect place between too dark and too bright, with more then enough power on tap for even the most modern bass players. The reverse design is something I love too, it reminds me of old Mosrite guitars, and basses from the 70’s All in all, this bass is a nice addition to the new line up that is the Fender Jaguar bass range. Easily the best idea fender has had in a while. I easily give the Fender Reverse Jaguar 10 out of 10 stars, because even a Fender purist can’t get mad, because the jaguar line is such a new line of basses. Now if only they would make a guitar version of a reverse jaguar, maybe with some modern touches as well? Some high output humbuckers and a Floyd Rose anybody?

the four new additions to the Fender family

the four new additions to the Fender family

At the end of the day, I like the Pawnshop line up, probably because I love all those weird Fenders from back when Leo ran the show, and let’s be honest, these guitars are beautiful. So what if they don’t look like your standard Strat or Tele, if you get one of these, you will have a weird little gem of a guitar that is quirky and unique, with all the spank and sparkle that you have come to expect from Fender. So how about you go on over to Worldmusicsupply.com, find something unique, and start standing out from the crowd, go get yourself a Fender Pawnshop guitar today!