WMS at NAMM 2016

Hey guy’s Brian here again with more promised info from NAMM, just covering some of the cool new stuff that we can expect to see in the year ahead from some of our friends. Let’s start off with Marshall, who came out swinging with their new Code amplifiers. They were designed as part of a collaboration between classic amp manufacturer Marshall and Next generation plug-in designers Softube as an “authentic modelling” of classic and contemporary Marshall tones via their new Marshall-Softube (MST) modelling, in addition to its banks and banks of high quality effects, CODE offers 14 preamps, four power amps and eight speaker cabinets. These include the JTM45 2245, 1962 Bluesbreaker, 1959SLP Plexi, JCM800 2203, JCM2555 Silver Jubilee, JCM2000 DSL100, JVM410H and more, while power amp voicings on offer are EL34, 5881, EL84 & 6L6 – there’s a selection of speaker cabs, too: 1960, 1960V, 1960AX, 1936V, 1912, 1974X and more. Also, just because I find it awesome, it’s also Bluetooth, so you can control certain aspects of it via your phone or tablet, send music to it, and even (so I’ve heard) control it via a Bluetooth foot controller!

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Next let’s talk about Fender, now every year it seems like Fender is trying to top themselves in some way, and for the past few years that has been their custom shop offerings. This year they had a few that stood out to me, firstly is the Repeater Telecaster designed by Master Builder Yuriy Shishkov, that’s modeled after an 18th century watch

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And by far my favorite, because of my love for weird old esoteric Fender models, is the Katana, Fender’s shot at a hyper modern Metal guitar re-imagined by Custom Shop Master Builder Todd Krause.

Katana

oh and before I Forget it, we can’t forget the viral youtube sensation of CARDBOARD STRAT

Waller

So aside from their custom shop offerings what’ve we got to look forward to?

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Yes folks, you see that right, Telemasters!
…or as their calling them “offset telecasters”somehwat-mad-completely-mad-u-mad-madad1

now for those out of the loop, Telemasters are sort of this cool parts guitar blue print that a lot of indie manufacturers and amateur builders have been busying themselves with for years now, and sure Fender made one or two in the past as trade show talk pieces, and for the most part they were more Esquier than Tele, but this is still super cool! to see such an interesting blend of vintage and modern pulled off with such style, I love it. Oh and what’s that on the other end of the display? Are those Jazzmasters with proper jazz tailpieces? Yup, bigsby equipped jazzmasters, imitating one of the most popular mods to their hard tail jazzmasters, and at the same time pulling it off with a style that only Fender could, no extra switches or knobs, just a black pickguard, simple, subdued single tone finishes, very stylish, love it.

Lastly for Fender is the new American Elite Series, which is replacing the long running Deluxe line. I liked them, from what I’m hearing on their youtube videos they sound fantastic, and the smaller touches like the sort of rubberized knobs are cool too, everything looks vintage enough but still very modern. The new color options are modern too, and yet still feel like Fender, with new satin bursts, and light blue to dark blue bursts, as well as the return of that lovely Camaro Orange color they call Autumn Blaze Metallic, I loved that color about 4 or 5ish years ago when that was one of their regular colors, just so unusual for a guitar, flashy and yet still sorta normal.

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All and all I loved what Fender is up to this year, and I can’t wait to actually get my hands on some of it!

NEXT UP
let’s take a deep dive into Charvel, who looks to be actually reissuing their pro mod San-Dimas and So-Cal series in some very exciting colors, clearly inspired by their 80’s aesthetic

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These look awesome, so retro and cool! I’m just happy to see that Charvel is starting to move out of the cookie cutter metal guitar scene, or at the very least peppering some color in there.  I would love for them to reissue the Style 2, because I haven’t seen a super tele in years! That being said, Charvel is shaping up to have some rad new stuff coming out that is sure to impress even the most discerning of players

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Lastly I want to talk about Washburn who had a TON of cool stuff going on at their booth this year, I wish I had more to say about it, but I feel like the pictures will speak for themselves, lets start with some new parallaxe models

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To their new, rather Californian influenced, electrics

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And of course let’s not forget their acoustics, with new rather affordable new designs coming to their heritage range, as well as their woodline series, both of which are shaping up to be just beautiful (really sorry I don’t have a picture of them from the showroom floor)
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So there you have it guys, tons of cool new stuff coming this year in terms of gear, with lots to look forward too! and you bet as soon as I can get my hands on it, I’ll be reviewing it right here for you guys.

~Hoover

 

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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.

World Music Supply | Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again, bringing you all another dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I get to talk  about one of my favorite amps of all time, and that is the Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb. I got my first real experience with this amplifier when I had just started playing guitar, and a friend of mine had a vintage one of these that his father had given him to play with, as it was just collecting dust in his garage. Luckily, even after all of those years it worked just fine, after we replaced the tubes of course. After all of these years, it’s good to know that an amp like this still has all of the power to move me just like that vintage one had, just without all of its wear and tear from years of playing in bars.

Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue

Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue

I tested this amp and remembered at once how powerful the sounds from it really are, with that perfect fender tone, with its big meaty low end, and a bell like chiming high end, with the sweetest mids I’ve heard from almost any other amp. Everything I gave the amp, it gave right back to me, with an airy SRV style snappiness that certainly has its place in any guitarists rig. The weird part about this amp that always confused me as a young guitarist, was that the two channels aren’t connected, you actually have to use a splitter box to go from one channel to another. You do still have a footswitch, but that’s to turn on and off the tube driven reverb and vibrato settings, which have a very distinct sound, that just screams late 60s style rock. The reverb is very twangy, with a very nice country edge to it that really helps establish that vintage Fender Vibe. The Vibrato setting is actually a tremolo effect, which was named inaccurately, which seems to be a hallmark of Fender, because lets not forget that the famous tremolo bridge piece on their Stratocaster guitar, actually creates a vibrato effect, confusing isn’t it.

After playing the amp for a few minutes, you will quickly realize why it’s loved by everyone from classic rock and blues guys to country players. The “normal” clean channel is very, very clean, with all of the crisp and airy power that people have come to expect from Fender, all of the notes perfectly defined, with the true tone of the guitar always shining through. The Normal channel is a little restrictive, as the reverb and vibrato controls aren’t in the circuit, but it does a great job of giving you a nice warm, thick sounding clean slate to add to with a palette of pedals.

The Vibrato channel is a lot more dynamic, with a lot more tone shaping options, but you still can get that classic Fender clean sound, as long as you keep the volume backed off. However, this channel has a very distinctive distorted tone, which has been heard on countless hit records throughout the years. This channel was great for playing everything from bluesy riffs, to a few different classic rock songs I had laying around waiting to test an amp like this, and the 65 did a great job of giving them that familiar body and spank that only a Fender could. Adding in the vibrato is great for emulating a few great C.C.R songs, and the tube driven reverb of this amp was so famous that BOSS even made a pedal just to replicate its warm spacious clamor.

For the years and years of countless songs the tone of this amp has inspired, the 65 Deluxe Reverb reissue definitely gets a solid 10 out of 10. However it should be noted that this amp doesn’t have a master volume, so getting a good distorted tone out of it does require you to crank the amp quite a bit, which can get a little loud, but hey, that’s just how we like it right!

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 Acoustic Guitars

Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, to supply you with your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a few cool acoustics from our friends over at Fender. Fender has always been a company that really tries to push the limits of what a guitar really is, and in the past they took this mentality to the rather conservative world of acoustic guitars. Many of these guitars went by rather clever monikers, like the Kingman, the Malibu, and the Newporter. Fender tried to introduce their “reinventing the wheel” style of production which had served them so well in the world of electric guitars, basses and amplifiers, however, in the hyper traditional world of acoustic guitars, their efforts failed for much of the companies history. Guitarists just weren’t comfortable having an acoustic with a bolt on neck, or an intonatable metal bridge on their flat top acoustics.

        For many years, Fender just couldn’t figure out what to do to with their acoustic guitar line to make them more acceptable by the mainstream world of guitar players, and it wasn’t until Fender was bought from CBS by FMIC that the quality of their acoustic guitars improved substantially. Nowadays, the acoustic guitars being produced by fender are some of the best selling, and best sounding in the industry. For today’s review I am going to start with the Fender CD-220SCE which features a solid spruce top, laminate ovangkol back and sides, and a fishman pickup system.

The Fender CD-220SCE Solid Spruce Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Fender CD-220SCE Solid Spruce Acoustic Electric Guitar

        The Fender CD-220SCE might seem like a relatively standard acoustic affair, with some relatively standard tones, and some rather typical looks, but while on the surface it looks simple and straight forward, it has so much more depth. The CD-220SCE has a very comfortable neck profile, which is slightly more reminiscent of an electric than a normal acoustic, and the body of the guitar, while being labeled a dreadnought, this guitar feels slightly more slimmed down, and more comfortable than a standard dread. The attached strap button is a nice addition, as surprisingly many acoustic guitars still don’t feature one, and I’ve personally had to install a few on acoustic guitars and am always worried what it will do to the guitars overall value. The inclusion of a strap button makes this guitar extremely comfortable to hold on stage, and the fast playing neck makes it easy to do everything from basic chord work, to lead runs and all the familiar electric guitar style work that acoustic guitars sometimes keep us from executing correctly.

Unplugged this guitar has a very warm tone, with plenty of snap and bite on top. The tone of the CD-220SCE is very modern with lots of bite and chime, the tone is exactly what you would want from a solid spruce guitar, and the ovangkol back and sides add just enough bite to help boost the slightly darker tone of spruce up out of the mix. Plugged in this guitar has a very true acoustic tone, with a nice darker spruce style tone, with enough of that nice piezo sizzle to help really lift your guitar out of the mix. The snappy tone really does a lot for this guitar, and the CD-220SCE is surprisingly resistant to feedback despite the very resonant spruce top.  The CD-220SCE is a nice straight forward acoustic electric, with plenty of modern sound and stage worthy power. For its ability to cover so much ground, at such an affordable price point, the CD-220SCE earns a solid 8 out of 10.

The Fender CD-230 SCE Cedar Top Acoustic Guitar

The Fender CD-230 SCE Cedar Top Acoustic Guitar

Next up is the CD-230SCE which is a slight variation on the CD-220SCE in that this version features a solid cedar top and mahogany back and sides. Cedar features a slightly more vintage sound than spruce does, and has a more “worn in” feel to it, and this guitar features the same super comfortable mahogany neck as the CD-220SCE. Unplugged the CD-230SCE certainly features a more worn in sound than the CD-220, with a lot more mid range warmth. This means that the CD-230 sits in a mix in a nice comfortable place, where it sits along side vocals without taking up any of the frequencies of the singers’ voice, and instead just lives around it.

Plugged in this guitar has a similarly powerful sound to the CD-220SCE, but instead of the darker tone of spruce, the 230SCE has the nice, strident midrange focused tone of cedar, which is great when playing with a band, as it avoids the frequency ranges of the lows of the bass, and the highs of the cymbals, allowing the guitar to cut through the mix with ease. The comfortable neck profile is great for playing lead lines, and the added body in the mix that cedar provides definitely helps fill out the sound, and make your acoustic playing really pop. For its more full bodied tone in comparison to the CD-220, but still retaining the comfortable feel and style, the Fender CD-230SCE earns itself a solid 9 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Fender Mustang Amplifiers

Hi it’s Brian from World Music Supply again, and I’m back to talk to you about Fender’s line of Mustang Amplifiers. Fender has long been a major power in the amplifier world, with powerhouse amps like the Bassman and the Twin reverb, not to mention their lesser known wonders like the Vibrolux, the bandmaster or the Princeton. Now though, with the new wave of modern modeling technology, Fender has begun to move into the world of modeling amplifiers with amplifiers like the G-Dec practice amp and the more powerful Mustang series of amplifiers. Armed to the teeth with powerful Fender DSP, all featuring your favorite vintage and modern Amplifiers and effects, and it comes loaded with extremely useful presets as well as USB connectivity to not only download more presets, but also to record direct into a computer with.

The Mustangs Simple Interface

The Mustangs Simple Interface

Rather then review the Amplifiers separately, I have decided to review them as a family, as the technology and the tones of the I, the II, the III, the IV, the V and the floor unit are completely identical. The only real difference between the units is the lack of the LCD screen interface and the 65 Deluxe model on the Mustang I and the Mustang II. The first thing you notice after turning on the amplifier is that a lot of the tones are Fender oriented and that is to be expected as this is first and foremost a Fender amplifier, sure they have different models vaguely disguised behind names like “British 60s” and “American 90s” but by and large you get fantastically accurate models of Fender models like the Fender Bassman, and the equally famous Twin Reverb.

The Mustang III

The Mustang III

Reviewing an amp like this is semi-difficult, as you are in effect reviewing literally a dozen amplifiers, and almost forty fully editable effects, but I will do my best to phrase and explain this varied pallet of tones and features. Using the included Fender Fuse software I was able to assemble large complex rigs very quickly, full of rack effects and plenty of pedals all to help shape your tone. there are twelve amplifier models, which include a 57 Deluxe, a 59 Bassman, a 57 Champ, a 65 Deluxe Reverb, a 65 Princeton Reverb, a 65 Twin Reverb, a Fender Super Sonic, The British 60s, 70s, and 80s which are rather well detailed models of a Vox and 70s and 80s era Marshalls, as well as the American 90s and Metal 2000 which are modeled on more high gain modern amplifiers.

The Mustang Floor

The Mustang Floor

All of the Fender Amplifiers are dead on accurate models of their name sakes, and as someone who loves the snappy clean tones of old pre-CBS Fender amplifiers I feel I can make that statement with confidence. The models seem to sound slightly more realistic on the higher Watt variants of the Mustang, but the I and II still sound amazing, they just lack some of the high volume characteristics of their big brothers. Out of the Fender models the most impressive was the 59 Bassman on the Mustang IV which sounded so much like my real Bassman that it was almost kind of frustrating that I saved so much money to buy a real Bassman. All of the Fender amps had their signature charms and characteristics, the twin reverb was sparkly and smooth, the Princeton was shimmering and had a nice bark at higher volumes, the champ had all of the classic Layla vibe that made it so famous, and the Bassman and Deluxe have all of the big body, big tone that made them so famous.

The Mustang IV

The Mustang IV

The spring reverbs also felt very Fender-y on their respective amps, feeling like a real amplifier reverb and less like a reverb you would get from a pedal. The other cool feature is the Fender Fuse software allows you to edit the Amplifiers much more than most other editing softwares, allowing you to hook up different amps to different speaker cabinets, change the bias, even down to adjusting the power amp sag. So you could have a Champ running through a tight sounding big 4×12. But if you’re looking for tight 4×12 tone, the British and American models sound equally impressive, with tones that really “speak” for the tone their aiming for. The British 70s has that big AC/DC tone, the British 60s has as very Beatles and Queen vibe to it, and the British 80s has a nice classic NWOBHM style vibe to it. The American Models remind me of the Randall I reviewed a week or so back, with the big, dark saturation that you expect from late 90s metal.

The Mustang V

The Mustang V

The pedal models that come with the Mustang are equally impressive, with everything from classic Tube Screamer style overdrives, to big fat Ring Modulator noises. They sound close enough to the real thing that with the optional four button footswitch, you could probably do a whole set with just this amp, and a laptop. The flexibility that having a laptop as your control module for an entire rig is just amazing, its like you own rack after rack of gear, and you have your own personal guitar tech who switches armfuls of gear for you.

When it comes down to it, the Mustang series of amplifiers is just fantastic. They have all of the classic fender tones, in one easily affordable package, and a whole slew of “British” and modern metal tones to fulfill those of us who might not like the classic Fender twang as much. For its ability to do everything in one little package, and making it feel like you have racks and racks of gear backstage the Fender Mustang series of Amplifiers scores a well deserved 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Pawnshop Amplifiers

Hi everyone, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I want to talk to you guys about some cool new amps that are part of Fenders Pawnshop line of equipment. The Pawnshop line up until now has been filled with quirky Fender guitars built to feel old, but made with a modern sensibility, and these amplifiers are no exception. Thus far, the Pawnshop line of amps has only two models, the Excelsior and the Greta. Let’s start first with the Greta.

The Fender Greta

The Fender Greta

The Greta is designed to function and feel like an old tube desk radio, which is what many guitarists of yesteryear had to deal with before they could buy a “real” amplifier, and as such, the tones generated from this small 2 Watt amplifier is similar to what you tend to hear on many old Classic rock hits from that same era. The Greta does look really cool though, with its speedometer style volume meter, its gold fabric covered speaker, and its bright red vintage table top radio style cabinet.

Sitting down with the Greta and putting it through its paces it’s quickly apparent that the controls to this amp are as simple as simple can get. You have a volume, a tone knob, and a speaker, past that you can plug the amplifier into the front end of another amplifier to use as a pre-amp, or run it into a cabinet to use the Greta as a head. While this makes the guitar a little more versatile, at the end of the day you get a few really amazing tones, and a cool little red amp. I tested the Greta through all of its respective speaker outputs, by itself, through a Randall RT412CX, and as a Preamp for a Fender Frontman.

By itself the Greta is a cool little table radio, and its speaking voice reflects this. Through its 4” speaker, at lower volumes, you get a clean-ish tone which has that classic sparkle that fender is known for, and as you ramp up the volume you get a very C.C.R style “swampy” overdrive. You really need some low output pickups to get a “true” clean tone from the Greta, but as long as the volume is low, you still get a nice, warm clean sound, with the slightest hint of growl behind it. However through its internal speaker, my favorite part was running my MP3 player through the Greta, as the tubes warmed everything up, and really made the music so much more, well…musical.

using the Greta as an amp head into a Randall RT412CX I was impressed by two things, that an amp like this can actually run a 4 x 12 cabinet, and second by the tonal difference between its internal speaker, and when running as a head. By itself, the Greta has a very “swampy” character, with a growl that I really can only link to the tones made famous by the likes of John Fogerty, but when you run it through a cabinet, it suddenly has a very AC/DC style sound, with far more punch and range than it does by itself. This is all to be expected, but the grand difference in good, usable tones was not, and I was frankly impressed. At low settings you get a nice big clean sound, with the slightest impression of the overdriven character of the amp in the background, and as you crank the amp the 5 o’ clock or so, you start to get some real Angus Young style bark. Taking it all the way to ten results in some big, heavily saturated distortion at a semi-low volume, which for those of us who record in our homes, rather than million dollar studios, good tones at low volumes is a definite plus.

The Greta can also be used as a Pre-amp, and for my test, I ran the Greta as a pre-amp into a Fender Frontman 2 x 12, which is a brighter sounding amplifier to begin with, I picked this amp as I have always loved its Fender tone, but I’ve never been a fan of the solid state tone. The Greta did a few things for the Frontman, first of which was warm everything up, this was nice as I could set the Greta on its lowest possible setting, just to add some tube warmth and let the Frontman handle all of the volume duty. This setup proved to be very useable, and did a good job of “faking” a big tube amp, which is something that I’ve always liked, having the tone and analog warmth of Tubes, and the reliability and road worthiness of a solid state amp. This combo really was a match made in heaven.

The Greta is a great addition to the Fender line of amplifiers, and a fantastic addition to the pawnshop line of equipment. For its ability to perfectly emulate the tones of yesteryear, the Greta gets a 9 out of 10, as even though its tones and looks are perfect, it certainly isn’t a high gain, heavy metal amplifier, and it therefore won’t suit the tastes of every guitarists, even though it will perfectly suit most of them.

The Fender Excelsior

The Fender Excelsior

Next up in this review is the Excelsior amplifier, a cool little 13 Watt Combo with a 15” special design speaker, and like the Greta it’s designed to be filled with all the same weird, quirky energy that has made Fenders Pawnshop line of equipment so exciting. Just like the Greta it bears no Fender name badge, just the name Excelsior, and a big E shaped cloth covering on the front to help echo the vintage vibe. the Excelsior only gets weirder and weirder when you come to find its three inputs, for Guitar, Mic, and Accordion…yes, that’s right, Accordion.

Each channel is designed specifically to complement that specific instrument, and by that I mean it is patterned after vintage amplifiers for that purpose. The guitar amplifier features wiring that is patterned after a vintage combo amp, and features everything from country clean tones with big snappy twang, to big roaring blues rock crunch. The Mic channel seems to be patterned after similar amplifiers, but with a bit cleaner mid range, as it seems to have been designed for use with harmonica mics more than vocal microphones. This means that the Mic channel features slightly scooped mids that help give the mic channel an extra little grind when it’s overdriven. I even went as far as to get an A/B box and toggle between these two channels to help figure out the difference, and it really is just a slightly scooped out midrange, which allows the amp to sound more “full range” than normal.

The accordion amp seemed to take a lot more to distort than the other channels, and had a much brighter sound to it than the other channels, which was nice when you consider that this amp is only 13 Watts and will spend most of its life at least slightly distorted. The last neat little feature about the Excelsior is the Tremolo feature, which is very, very musical. It adds a nice soft oscillation to your tone, and its speed knob never allows it to get too intense to where it’s a buzz saw, or a stutter, just a soft musical warble. Overall I loved the Excelsior, and if I had the extra cash lying around I would have snatched one up in a heart beat. For its ability to have so many sounds in one little box, and for its retro cold-war styling, the Excelsior lands a respectable 9 out of 10, and it doesn’t score that last point for the same reason as its sister, while it is a great classic sounding amp, there just isn’t enough gain on tap for many guitarists wanting a more modern sounding amplifier

So there you have it, some very respectable amps, with a pedigree from one of the most beloved Amp manufacturers on the planet, with a vibe and a tone that is half a century overdue. These amps are sure to be a hit with lovers of low watt amps everywhere, and you can get them and many more Fender amplifiers right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!

World Music Supply | Fender Basses

Hey guys it’s Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you about something that hasn’t been covered before in depth in this blog, and that is basses, specifically Fender basses. Fender basses have been the industry standard for bass guitars since the beginning, probably because Fender is the company that invented the modern electric bass guitar.

Clearly one of Leo Fender and the Fender company’s most illustrious achievements has to be the invention of  the Precision Bass, taking the musical range and sound of the upright bass, and making it a compact and easily transportable form. Fender also decided to add a fretted fingerboard, so that bassists could play in tune quickly and easily. Eventually, Fender also produced the Jazz bass, with its thinner faster neck profile, and its much mellower sound. So lets go through a brief rundown and review of some of the most popular Fender basses on the market today.

The Fender American Standard Precision Bass

The Fender American Standard Precision Bass

First and foremost, is the Fender American Standard Precision Bass. With a tone that is bold, punchy, and iconic, it’s widely understood that the P bass can fit in almost any situation. Sure, you would assume that one pickup doesn’t give you much versatility, but that has never stopped the P bass from playing in everything from rock and blues, to funk and R&B, all the way to shred metal, modern pop and hip hop. There is nothing that a P bass can’t do.

I sat down with the American Standard P Bass, and put it through its paces. I was able to get everything from thundering low growls, which were great for quick jazz runs, to bright sounding rock tones with nothing more then a quick roll of the tone knob. The neck felt smooth and comfortable, and the body shape fits you like an old friend. There is nothing I could dream of adding to, or changing about this lovely instrument, and I would give it a 10 out of 10, except it would be unfair of me to grade the P bass. As the P bass was the first real bass guitar, all other bass guitars are judged by the bar it set all of those years ago.

The Fender American Standard Jazz Bass

The Fender American Standard Jazz Bass

Next up, is the Fender American Standard Jazz bass. Invented as a part of the plan by fender to help bring jazz players into the electrified world, the Jazz bass was given a thinner neck, an offset body style, two redesigned pickups to help give it a darker, more mellow tone, and a different control scheme that gave it far more versatility tone wise. Yes, it was designed for jazz, but that has never stopped it from being played in everything from metal to country, and anything in-between. As with its brother the P bass, it seems that there is nothing the Jazz bass isn’t capable of.

Sitting down with the American Standard Jazz bass, I was impressed by how it all felt. Playing jazz lines, on a jazz bass will always just sound and feel right, because Fender really got this instrument right. The tones were delicate and bold at the same time, with punch and growl, but playing softly resulted in those classic soulful, yet whispery tones. Being able to zip from really bright tones on the bridge pickup, and then by a twist of the two volume controls, and a whirl of the tone, go bright bridge tones to the darkest neck tones imaginable is a testament to how versatile this instrument really is. Slapping and popping gave me all of those old tones, that would be more then at home on any old funk record ala Sly and the Family stones. Playing with the pads of my fingers gave me big open jazz tones, and switching to a pick gave me all of the big rock style tones I could ever need. It really just does it all, and does it all with style.

This is a bass that can do it all, easily a 10 out of 10, but like I said with the P bass, these two basses are the ones that started it all, without them the instrument as we know it would be far different indeed.

The Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar Bass

The Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar Bass

The next bass in the review is the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass. Fender tends to use their Squier brand to produce one of two things, cheaper versions of their Fender made instruments, or they use them to create radically different instruments for markets that would be too expensive to fill with their higher dollar instruments. This is a good example of the latter.

The smaller scale length of this instrument seems fitting, as Fender has made many quirky short scale basses over the years, with models like the Bronco, or the Mustang bass, as Fender has always attempted to figure out a way to exploit that niche as much as possible. The neck on the Short Scale Jaguar felt comfortable, and after it was strung up with heavier strings, this thing came to life. The super versatile electronics of this guitar include a jazz bass style volume and tone layout, with both a Jazz bass pickup in the bridge, and a Precision bass pickup in the neck. Being able to have the punchy-ness of the P bass, and all of the mellow growl, and the ability to pan between pickups like a Jazz bass just gives this instrument way too much power.

The body feels strangely unlike a bass, and the short scale of the neck does make it feel a lot more like a guitar then a bass. This can lead the odd syndrome of wanting to play guitar style lines on a bass, with big huge jumps between notes, leading you away from the standard walk along the neck that bass players have done for so many decades. The only downside I can find about the Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass, is that they didn’t include the active bass circuit of the rest of the Jaguar bass models in the Vintage Modified line, a feature that would have given this already dark sounding bass a little extra edge . Overall though this little addition to the Fender family does exactly what it needs to, and is one amazing little bass at a really affordable price. For its versatility and cool short scale playability, the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass gets an easy 9 out of 10, because while it’s not every bassist will like the short scale length, every bass player should own atleast one short scale bass, for their unique dark mellow tone.

The Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass

The Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass

The last guitar in this review is another Squier, and the bass in question is the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz bass. I’ve always loved the added versatility that a low B gives you, and with the big bold tone that Duncan designed pickups gives you, this bass definitely has a lot more power then anything in its price range. This is an amazingly high quality bass, not just a high quality Squier, but definitely a true high quality bass all around.

Sitting down with the bass, I loved the added body, and sustain that the extra wood and weight gives to the Jazz basses tone. Playing through standard jazz changes is far easier when you can shift down to that low B as you walk higher up the neck, as you can leap around within the changes much easier then on a standard four string. Dropping the low B to an A, I was able to play everything from some deep down funk, some bright rock, even some dark metal chugging, without the low A ever seeming unnecessary or misplaced. As far as bass guitars go, the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass is miles above and beyond its competition, and nothing in its price bracket comes close to its power, and tone. The Vintage Modified Five String easily snags a 10 out of 10, for just being so practical, and affordable.

As you can see, even though Fenders range of basses isn’t that gigantic, and even though the design of said basses have rarely changed in sixty or so years, they are still just as important and revolutionary to modern music as they have ever been. So why don’t you start playing the same basses that revolutionized modern music all those years ago, and go pick up a Precision, a Jazz, or even the newer Jaguar basses over at Worldmusicsupply.com today!

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!

World Music Supply | Fender American Special Series Guitars

The Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars have been around forever, it seems. Most of us who play have owned at least one example of these iconic instruments over the years, if not several. While there have been a great many incarnations of these guitars spanning seven decades now, ranging from imported entry level student instruments to high-end, high-dollar show pieces, it has never been more affordable to lay your hands on an American made Strat or Tele loaded with all of your favorite features, as it is right now with Fender’s American Special Series.

Fender American Special Series

Fender American Special Series

The goal was to produce an instrument with all of the quality tone and feel of Fender’s American made series in a guitar that the average player could fit into his/her budget. It seems that Fender has hit the nail on the head with the American Specials.

With several popular finish choices and fingerboards available in both maple and rosewood, the most in demand combinations are ready to fly. Cool new features like Texas Special pickups, a larger radius fingerboard and jumbo frets provide a modern feel and rich tone that handles both clean sounds and heavy distortion equally well. There is even an HSS version available with Fender’s Atomic Humbucking Pickup loaded in the bridge position.

Also included are some nice aesthetic touches that I personally like a lot. The headstock is the big, 70’s style, as is its’ logo decal and certain finish combinations come with the black, multi-ply pick guard. The Strats are equipped with a vintage style tremolo. Fender’s cast/sealed tuning machines are standard. Both guitars come with a heavy gigbag. Fit and finish on the example that I used for this review was quite good. Overall, the execution was above average and showed superior attention to detail.

Now, let’s get down to business. For this review, I used my Marshall DSL100 head with a 1960AV Vintage 30 loaded cabinet for the dirty sounds and my Fender Blues Jr combo for the clean sounds. The guitar that was made available to me was the three single coil, maple fingerboard configuration.

With the pickup selector set on the bridge pickup only, clean sounds through the Blues Jr were bright and chimey, almost brittle if I cranked the treble on the amp. Backing off the treble control just a bit takes the edge off and makes for a nice bright clean sound. My personal favorite setting on the Strat (for clean sounds) is position 4 (middle and neck pickup together). In this position the American Special Strat has all of the warm, classic clean tone that we all love. Bell-like and full-bodied, with rich overtones and the much loved out of phase sound that is provided by the two pickups running together. I don’t recall ever playing a Strat that I liked any better for this type of sound. The Texas Special pickups do a wonderful job with clean sounds providing you know how to dial in your amp.

Fender American Special Series Guitars

American Special HSS Black

When I dimed the volume on the Jr I was rewarded with a hard-hitting, mildly overdriven tube tone that was music to my ears. This was with the bridge and middle pickups together. The bridge pickup alone, with the same amp settings, produced a Hendrix-like tone that would be useable for all kinds of classic rock applications.

Now for theMarshall’s turn. I began with pristine clean settings again because the DSL does that tone quite well, better than most Marshall stuff. On channel 1 with just a touch of gain (about 4 on the knob) I nailed some of my favorite sounds. Turn it up loud and it is very SRV-like with this guitar. Back off on the volume knob a bit and you’re back to super clean, with a lot of warmth, on any pickup selection except the bridge pickup alone. Engage crunch mode on the clean channel and the tone explodes into Angus territory. Positions 2 and 4 on the pickup selector work exceptionally well in this mode as the added distortion combined with  the single coils creates that magic mid-gain tone that only a Strat can really nail (think Voodoo Child). I was in tonal heaven. You will be too if you are a classic rock fan.

Fender American Special Series Guitars

American Special Series Maple

For the higher gain tones we’ll cut to the chase. Ultra Gain Channel, Lead II switch engaged, gain on 10. Start with your tone controls all set at 12:00 o’clock. Tweak the EQ until you get what you like and commence rocking. Strike the big G chord and brace yourself. The tone is smooth and richly saturated, but still has a tightness to it that produces a beautifully articulate sound that retains string definition and clarity. I couldn’t ask for a better classic Strat heavy rock tone. Single note passages sing with all of the searing power of Jimmy or Robin Trower on steroids. Power chords strike you like a punch. And talk about fun with feedback!

For all of you metal fans, I had to throw my Digitech Hardwire Metal Distortion pedal into the signal chain. The results were more than satisfactory. You’ll probably want to stick with position 2 on the p/u selector when using this much distortion unless you have a quality noise gate in your path. Otherwise, the extraneous noise may be more than you can bear. I was able to emulate Dimebag style heavy with a little bit of EQ tweaking. You know, scoop the mids and crank everything else.

One side note regarding the oversized headstock; whether you love it or hate it, the additional sustain that its’ extra mass provides is always welcome in my book. I’ll say it again, this guitar NAILS all of the classic Strat sounds. And it does it with a modern feeling neck that is both comfortable and fast. Fender’s goal has been realized fully in the American Special Series. If an American made Strat (or Tele) with modern “player” features, at a price that is in reach of the average player is what you’re after, look no further. I’ve already ordered mine.

Fit and Finish…………………….*****

Playability…………………………*****

Features…………………………….*****

Sound………………………………..*****

Value…………………………………*****