Fender instruments have long held something of a mythological status in musical circles since their introduction into the market in the 50’s and looking at them with modern eyes it’s not hard to see why. Despite the fact that Fenders seem to radiate a “future of tomorrow, today!” sci-fi design they are utterly timeless, with curves exactly where they should be & with a play-ability that is still unmatched. Here is my run down of the most iconic Fender designs and how they stand up today to our modern, cynical tastes.
Upon first inspection the Telecaster looks almost gruff and simplistic in appearance, perhaps even a little to ordinary but it’s only when you get up close to one that you realise how utterly charming the model is. Leo’s first design was the Telecaster and you can tell that he created it from an engineer’s perspective as its pure function over form, but that simplicity is the Teles most attractive feature. It’s guaranteed that every guitarist will get the “Tele bug” at some point, lusting over one when no other design will do as holding one connects you to the very roots of electric guitar history itself. No matter what your style a solid Tele will always be relevant and are tough enough to survive virtually anything.
Quite possibly the most iconic electric guitar design, the Strat looks just as good today as when it was unleashed unto the world in 54’ and continues to inspire a loyalty like no other guitar before or since (apart from perhaps its rival the Les Paul). The Strat looks like a product of its era, emulating a space age almost “Jetsons” like appearance that is pleasurable to both the eye and hands as its curves are strategically placed to give a perfect ergonomic experience. Throw in a unique pickup configuration and tone combined with its groundbreaking tremolo system and you have a staple instrument for the ages.
Duncan & Russ sharing their mutual love for the Strat design.
The favoured guitar of alternative rockers everywhere, the Jazzmaster has grown a cult-like fan base over the years due to its leftfield design and boom of popularity in the 90s. Played by alt-rock royalty this instrument continues to appeal to those that want a clear and well rounded tone that can dirty up to the extreme when needed. Bulkier than its Start and Tele siblings the Jazzmaster is certainly broader in size, reassuringly weighty even but for those that want something slimmer this may not be the guitar for you. Despite its size however it’s incredibly easy to play and has unique tremolo systems that not only works effectively but holds its tune surprisingly well. This is the perfect axe if your attitude is as against the grain as the Jazzmaster is.
In addition to the big three of the guitar world Leo also gave two iconic bass designs, the Precision & the Jazz, based loosely design concept wise on the Tele and Strat respectively. The P Bass has a bulk and thickness that creates a booming tone used on countless classic recordings and the Jazz bass has a silkier neck and more detailed control system which results in refined and smoother tone. Both instruments are still incredibly popular today and inspire legions of fans the world over.
We live in a very interesting era for the electric guitar and its production, with companies being able to create instruments of a unprecedented build quality to price ratio that blow away instruments of a similar price decades ago. This surge of instruments has created a new demand and appreciation for the mid price point guitar, a demand that has become even more common in recent years due to the steady price increase of brands such as Gibson and Fender that have somewhat isolated and pushed away potential customers who can’t afford their product lines, a fact not ignored by some shrewd and innovative guitar companies. Tie that in with the questionable build quality and consistency of some of the larger standard instrument manufacturers and you have a catalyst waiting to happen.
The SE Maple Series certainly turned heads.
Two of these mid priced giants are currently the Gretsch Electromatics and PRS SE, both of which are sister companies of the more expensive Gretsch USA & PRS USA brands but lack none of the build quality you would expect from their siblings. One of the factors of their success is the genuine thought that goes into the models of the SE & Electromatics, creating limited edition models using exotic tone woods and sporting gorgeous finishes that really stir up excitement within their fan base. All of this competition and innovation of course means that the wise consumer can really get the deal of a century, picking up an instrument of incredible quality that is gig worthy and sounds inspiring for a price that is surprising and reassuring.
We put this awesome machine through paces:
In addition to the mid range giants emerging, the budget & entry level guitar market has also had a positive & dramatic surge in quality in the last 5 years. With brands such as Squier, Cort & Sigma cleaning up the competition within their bracket whilst making veteran 6 stringers think again about how they view guitars in this price range. There is of course no knowing how long this mid range quality period will last, but if you have been on the fence about modern guitars then the SE and Electromatics are certainly worth a second look, they are a great place to start looking for that elusive “dream axe”.
Choosing presents for a friend or loved one at any time of year is hard enough let alone for guitarists (they seemly have everything already!). But fear not as we have compiled a list of divine gifts ideas that even the most hard-hearted six stringer will love.
1: The Little Black Songbook Series.
This collection of small but informative songbooks come in variety of styles and feature transcriptions and chord charts (inc. lyrics) of a particular band or genre of music e.g. Oasis, Beatles, Folk, Acoustic Hits etc. Even if you’re loved one has transcriptions of their favourite musicians already it’s nice to have them in an easy to carry and compact form.
2: Right-On Straps.
Straps are an essential accessory for any guitarist and the Right On brand are truly the coolest looking around. Made with the hard working guitarist in mind these straps feature some astonishing and stylish designs made with the finest & ethically sourced materials. The even feature twin pick grooves so that picks can be stashed away for last minute access.
3: Music Nomad Cleaning Products.
Keeping your instrument clean and in working order can sometimes be a task in itself but Music nomad are passionate about making that process as painless and as effective as possible (Plus their cleaning solutions smell amazing). Featuring a range of formulas such as the F-One Oil (for fretboards) Guitar Polish & The All in One Solution and gift boxes/cleaning packs Music nomad with have everything you need to keep your axe in tip top condition.
4: Boss Katana 50.
To put it bluntly the Boss Katana 50 is the ultimate practice guitar amplifier, packing tones of tones and effects via an easy to use control panel. This amplifier is perfect for new and seasoned guitarists alike as it packs so much in such a small space that it will leave you constantly plugged in and ready to go.
5: Kyser Capo’s
Capo’s are one of the most frequently bought extras in a guitarist’s toolbox and are frequently used both in the studio and on stage. Kyser capos combine the best elements of function and form with a solid mechanism that is easy and fast to use combine with a unique aesthetic that comes in a variety of attractive colours and eye-popping finishes.