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Fender Player Series Stratocaster Review

Being quite into the subject of guitar journalism and the music industry in general I couldn’t help but notice the marketing campaign for Fenders new range of” Player Series” instruments, They managed to hit all of the social media platforms extremely hard with some rather trendy accompanying  videos of musicians and bands using the series for various performances and tours. But being a natural cynic I was finding it hard to see the wood-from-the-trees as to if the new range will stand up to my natural scrutiny in person. However I should have known that Fender would hit it out the park, out of all the models available I decided to give the ever iconic Strat a good going over.

“Having a bit of a Slowhand moment..”

First Impressions:

The first impressions of the Player Series Stratocaster was good, the overall weight of the instrument was medium, certainly heavier than some Strats that I’ve held in the past but equally nowhere near as heavy as the  70’s CBS era models, so a nice middle ground there. The finish quality was excellent with no impurities in the look of body and the neck was assembled and completed perfectly with a truly genius sanded satin back (more on that later). The finish colour I choose was Black (in a vain attempt to summon my inner Clapton to the surface) and it all certainly looked the part with a maple neck and white pickguard. So far, so good!

“Black is always the best colour”

Playability & Sound:

This is where things started to get really interesting as having played various other Mexican made Fenders in the past I always felt like these were categories that the brand fell down on, but not so much with this current incarnation. The introduction of the satin neck to the series was truly an inspired and wise decision as the series seems to be aimed at those that want performance over tradition and sanding down a gloss neck on the back to give an easier playing action is an extremely common post purchase modification so to have it as standard is rather awesome. As a result the neck is a dream to play and feels very modern due to its C profile radius, having an extra fret (22) is also a bit of a bonus too as its quite novel to fret so high up on such an vintage design.

The sounds available on the Strat model are incredibly varied and will suit a whole range of contexts, I always believe that a sign of solid set of pickups is to go through every configuration and combination to see how different all the voices are and the set installed In this series is certainly diverse in the best possible way. The neck pickup sounded full and solid whist still retaining its fundamental Strat’yness, the Middle position was typically “quacky” and the bridge was quite bright yet not unusable. What surprised me however was just how gain friendly the pickups were, able to tame variable amounts of gain easily whist again still sounding like a Strat in the process, whoever developed this pickup set really put a lot of thought into its creation, and made them usable for virtually every context. Overall the whole package sounded wonderful if not for a slight bit of hum when gain was applied to the single coil on the 1,3 and 5 setting (which is mostly to be expected)  a hum which vanishes on setting 2 and 4. Overall I’m very very impressed with the whole sound and feel of the range.

Value For Money?:

Absolutely! I genuinely believe that the value for money angle is the greatest selling point of the player series as they are on the lower end of the Mid-range price point. If I were to recommend a solid performing quality instrument then from this point onwards the Player series would be at the top on my list of recommendations, for new players and experienced ones alike. Being an absolute tone hound I would of course mess with a few things post purchase (I’m very heavy handed so I would need a thicker tremolo block) but being honest it would be hard to fit anything else into the price point of this instrument, it’s a genuine marvel that it’s so cost effective to begin with!

Final Thoughts:

Fender has obviously listening to their target demographic and have made modern and useful adjustments to their series that really go a long way in inspiring confidence in the Fender brand. It feels like Fender really hit the ground running with the Player Series, putting their finger on the pulse of the needs of the working musician at a price that is hugely appealing, and in the age £1000+ American made flagships the player series will make  presumed quality disparities between the two less and less obvious .Truth be told  I’m a little shocked that Fender managed to cram so many features and improvements into an instrument at that price and as a result puts to shame a certain rival company that Is currently in a terrible financial situation. It just goes to show that if you create an affordable yet quality instrument with an suitable marketing campaign you can put to rest any perceived  innate superiority of a country of manufacturing origin, as I’ve always shown a little resistance to Mexican made Fender models, that isn’t the case anymore.

Overall I would give this Strat the following marks:

Price: (10/10)

Sound: (7/10)

Feel & Playability: (8/10)

Features & Extras: (7/10)

Overall: (8/10)

This Strat is perfect for anyone that wants a genuine Fender at a decent price, its features are well thought out and for a modern player in mind, true vintage purists may want to give this one a pass unless they want their perception of what makes a “great” guitar immediately challenged. Highly recommended.



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A Beginners Guide To Guitar Effects – Part 2: Distortion/Gain

Wah – Wahs, Flangers, Phasers & Delays!! The world of effects are confusing to say the least, full of complicated and sometimes humorous names to describe sounds that you can easily imagine but sometimes find difficult to describe or articulate. Which is why I’ve written a series of articles on effects pedals and their use/context. This week it’s all about the gain as we take a look at distortion pedals.


The Boss OD-3 Is A Staple Overdrive Pedal

Technically Overdrive is a type of distortion but it can vary so much in tone and application that I’ve chosen to separate the two. An overdrive pedal simulates what happens when you ‘overload/drive’ the tubes in an amplifier past the point where a pristine sound is possible. It can alter the sound of your channel to anything from a subtle punch of gain and volume to something quite meaty and powerful added to your signal chain. The advantage of using an overdrive pedal over just a tube amplifier is that you don’t have to play at an unreasonable volume level to get that natural overdriven sound that you want and you can splice your favourite overdrive pedal with the amps natural overdrive to create a sound completely your own.

Overdrive (as with a lot of gain based effects) takes time to dial in the best settings for the job and rewards experimentation and combinations that you might not of thought of. One of the most collectable guitar pedals of all time is in fact an overdrive: the fabled Klon Centaur, a pedal that can go for upwards of £1000+ so the demand for divine sounding overdrive in pedal form is always prevalent.

Famous examples of overdrive include: “The Rumble” – Link Wray, “You Really Got Me” – The Kinks, “Whole Lotta’ Love” – Led Zeppelin & many, many others.

To see our stock of overdrive pedals click here.


The Fender Pugilist Is a Brand New Distortion Pedal 

Distortion is a more extreme version of overdrive, over-saturating the signal with more and more overdrive until the original sound is considerably more gain infused, sometimes to the point where the original clean sound cannot be heard at all in the sonic mix. Distortion also grants an almost violin like sustain due to the natural overtones and raw power of the effect and by default is one of the most the common effects available on the market today (often included with every amplifier as standard).

The reason we use distortion pedals however is to provide even more variety to your amps sound, as you may want a distortion tone different to the one naturally found within your amp, or to help you sound like your favourite players. Like overdrive Distortions can be mixed together to create unique and sort after tones or to add even more saturation to your overall sound.

Famous examples of distortion include: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana, “ Iron Man” – Black Sabbath and “Panama” – Van Halen (as well as countless others).

To see our stock of distortion pedals click here.


Fuzz is an extreme type of distortion that has often been described as woolly, raspy and thick and was extremely popular in the 60s, 70s and 90s. The Fuzz effect also sounds far more compressed and squashed in frequency range compared to distortion and as such has a very definite tonal niche on the gain spectrum.  Able to evoke association with the decades in which it was popular fuzz has the uncanny ability to make a guitar line sound very nostalgic and powerful, although it’s not as usable in as many contexts as overdrive or distortion (unless you are a fuzz fiend of course). Still it’s very much worth experimenting with if you’ve never gone out of your way to experience the fuzz effect firsthand, who knows you may morph into one of those hardcore Fuzz enthusiasts (we know you’re out there).

Famous examples of Fuzz include: “Cherub Rock” – The Smashing Pumpkins,  “Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones and “Purple Haze” – Jimi Hendrix.

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A Beginners Guide To Guitar Effects – Part 1: Time Based Effects

Wah Wah’s, Flangers, Phasers & Delays!! The world of guitar effects is confusing to say the least, full of complicated and sometimes humorous names to describe sounds that you can easily imagine but find difficult to describe or articulate . Which is why I’ve written a series of articles on effects and their use, starting with this one: a Beginners guide to “Time” based effect types.

Delay’s and Reverb’s (Time).

“The Boss DD-7 Is  A Classic Delay Pedal”

Delay and Reverb pedals are some of the easiest pedals to imagine and visualise and prove to be some of the most popular pedal types on the market today. Reverbs are extremely common and are often built into amps as standard (although guitarists love to add a reverb or two on their boards to give a greater breadth of tonal versatility) reverb essentially adds a greater feeling of space to your guitar sound, as if your playing in a hall or at a stadium.

Delay on the other hand is similar to that of an echo, allowing your sound to be rebounded back to you, creating a huge sense of distance and space that is hard to replicate by any other means. Both delay and reverb are highly atmospheric and when combined together artistically can create otherworldly tones that are totally unique.

Famous examples of Reverb: “When The Levee Breaks” – Led Zeppelin,  “In The Air Tonight” – Phil Collins, “Miserlou” – Dick Dale & “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley.

Famous examples of Delay: “Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns & Roses, “Where the Streets Have No Name” – U2 & “Walking on the Moon” – The Police.

Our Stock of Reverbs & Delays.

Chorus, Flange & Phase.

“The Digitch Nautila Fuses Flange & Chorus Tones Together”

These three have rather eccentric names but are very distinctive in tone, Chorus adds a thickness/fullness to your guitars tone and is a stunning effect to use (if tasteful) and can easily make a clean sound incredibly beautiful and 80’s inspired (chorus was all the rage in the 1980’s). A Flanger is a more intense version of a chorus which has an ever so slightly larger manipulation of the tones phase which results in a dramatic yet iconic tone and is often described by many as “whooshing”. Phasers are very similar to flangers in many respects but have a more cutting and higher frequency tone (often described as wavy), and can be dialled in to be more subtle and light than chorus and flanger, perfect for funk and soul guitar tones.

Famous Examples of Chorus: “Message in a Bottle” – The Police,  ”Purple Rain” – Prince and “Come as you Are” – Nirvana.

Famous Examples of Flanger: “Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin, “Barracuda” – Heart & “The Spirit of Radio” – Rush.

Famous Examples of Phaser: “Eruption” – Van Halen, “Paranoid Android” – Radiohead & “Just the Way You Are” – Billy Joel

Our Stock of Chorus, Phaser & Flanger