Posts Tagged ‘fender’

Last week, after watching the video of George Benson describing the construction of his new Fender Twin Signature, I got that ol’ familiar feelin’ of GAS. I loved the sound of that amp, and as the new band I’m in plays mostly classic rock from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I figured I’d be playing mostly clean, which just a touch of grit at times. While my Marshall-style amps from Aracom are absolutely awesome, I haven’t had a Fender amp in my lineup for awhile. That Twin Reverb seemed to me something worth checking out.

But then after a gig I did yesterday with members from my old church band, I was mentioning that Twin to my good buddy Dave, and how I just loved that clean sound. He pulled me aside and told me that he was going to be selling his Deluxe Reverb Limited Edition, and I could try it out first. SHIT! Instant GAS attack! I love that amp! Dave had brought it to church a few times in the past, and it’s sound is incredible! I played it with both a Strat and a Les Paul, and I just loved the creamy-smooth cleans that would issue forth from the amp. Such a sweet, sweet sound! I’m going to pick up the amp probably in the middle of the week, and I’m itching to play it; both in my man-cave and at my next band rehearsal.

In anticipation of playing it, I did a bit of research on this particular version of the Deluxe. What I didn’t realize was that as opposed to having a 75 Watt speaker, this amp sports a Jensen C-12K, which is rated at 40 Watt. Effectively, this means that beyond a certain volume setting, the speaker will break up more and not get too loud. For rock and roll, this is ideal, and what gets me excited about this amp.

That doesn’t mean that this amp is quiet by any means. Fender amps are LOUD. But that’s why attenuators exist, right? 🙂 Besides, I’ll probably only have to attenuate my volume for rehearsal, which is in a pretty small room. For gigs, I may even have to use an expansion cab to add more dispersal, but we’ll see. In any case, I’m excited about getting to know this amp. Could it be something I add to my stable? We’ll just have to wait and see…

On another note, looking back on this blog, having created it in January of 2007 – hard to believe that it’s nine years old – I realized that my GAS is directly related to how active I am with a band. The last year and half, I haven’t been in a band at all, having played mostly solo, and the times I’ve sat in on a band, the gear I’ve got totally sufficed. But now that I’m in a new band, with entirely new responsibilities, I’m finding that I’m getting GAS – AGAIN!

BUT, I also realized that my particular form of GAS is more practical in nature – if you can call GAS practical – and has been a response to filling “holes” in my rig or to satisfy a particular need. With this particular GAS attack, I’m looking to get a combo to gig with. With my old church band, lugging my gear to the church wasn’t a problem. We rehearsed and performed on the same day, I live literally 3 minutes from the church, so I’d just bring whatever I need for the set to church, hook it up, and was fine for the 5-6 hours I’d be there.

But with the new band, we rehearse at a band member’s house, then play in different venues, so the fewer pieces I have to carry, the better, and a combo just makes a lot more sense. So we’ll see how this test goes. I’m pretty excited!

Correction:  Oops! My bad! A reader pointed out that I specified the Jensen C-12K as the speaker for this amp. It’s actually a Jensen P12Q, which has an alnico magnet and rated at 40Watts.

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So I got this email from the Fender PR department telling me about their new guitar configurator called “Design Your Own.” So I went down to the Fender site and designed my dream Strat. Pretty cool stuff! I guess Fender figured if car manufacturers could do this (I designed my 2014 C7 Corvette), they could do it too. And why not? It’s totally cool to be able to spec out and also see what you’re going to buy (or at least plan or dream about buying).

You know me, I’m not too much into gimmicks, and on the surface, this might seem like one, but it’s actually pretty cool. Check it out!

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mlb-strat-sfNot sure how I feel about this one. But here’s a press release I got from Fender yesterday.



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.  (March 20, 2014) – Fender is proud to announce it will offer fans collectible MLB-themed electric guitars that sound as great as they look. Each Fender Stratocaster® guitar will feature official team logos along with custom designed landmark imagery unique to the team’s market, as well as a “MLB” logo adorning the neck plate.

The initial group of team guitars available in 2014 includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. Also available is a Minnesota Twins All-Star Game guitar that features unique Minnesota imagery in honor of the team hosting the Midsummer Classic in 2014.

In addition, each guitar features an alder body, maple neck with a modern “C”-shape and 21 medium jumbo frets, three standard single-coil Strat®pickups, six-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo, five-position switch, master volume and tone knobs, and standard gig bag.

“Fender and Major League Baseball are all-American originals,” said Justin Norvell, Fender marketing vice president. “Through this relationship, we’re excited to ‘team up’ to provide one-of-a-kind collectibles for musicians and baseball fans alike. The connections are intrinsic — baseball bats and guitars are both made from maple and ash, and tons of ballplayers are guitar players. We’ve had more casual or informal connections with players and teams for years, so this further solidifies a relationship we’ve long valued and enjoyed.”

Fender and MLB officially launched their relationship during the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at the New York Mets Citi Field by selling limited edition MLB All-Star Game Stratocaster guitars. Now, baseball fans throughout the United States can craft their own rock ‘n’ roll classics while representing their favorite MLB teams.

These instruments will be available to U.S. consumers only beginning March 31 exclusively at http://www.fender.com/mlb and http://www.shop.mlb.com, as well as in team shops at select MLB ballparks.


Don’t know what price point these will come in at. I guess we’ll see when they get released on March 31. Definitely not something for me. Even though it’s a Strat, to me it’s akin to that leg lamp from the movie “A Christmas Story.” I suppose if you’re a big fan of particular team and a guitar player, you’d want one of these. But for me, as much of a Giants’ fan I am, I don’t ever see myself toting this one on my shoulder.

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Fender and Volkswagen came out with this last year, and Fender’s plugging it again. I dismissed it at first as a gimmick, but it looks like it’s here for another round for this year’s Beetle, Passat, and Jetta, though the premier plug is for the Beetle. As both Fender and Volkwagen put it, “the best seat in the house behind the wheel of a Volkswagen.” This time I watched videos, and sure, it’s a pretty cool system. But despite that, I still have a beef: An American guitar icon in a German vehicle? At least for me, when I think rock and roll and cars, I picture an American muscle, bad-ass, pussy-wagon like a Camaro SS, Shelby, Charger, or a Corvette. But a Beetle? I don’t give a rat’s ass if it has a turbo-charger. It ain’t a bad-ass American muscle car!

Think about it yourself. Think of rock and roll and then picture a car that goes with that rock and roll ideal. It’s quite likely that it’s not a Euro-bred exotic like a Lambo or Ferrari or Mercedes. Or if you’re into bikes, it’s a Harley, not a Gold Wing. Even if you compare drivers and rock and roll, who pops into your mind? It ain’t Michael Schumacher. It’s John Force or Don Garlitz (goin’ old-school here) or Paul Tracy or Dale Earnhardt (Senior and Junior).

Fender and Volkswagen don’t seem to fit to me. The brand targets are so different. Look, I had a New Beetle when they first came out. It was a fun, cruiser-mobile. I even had a daisy that I put in the mini flower vase on the control panel. But in no way would I consider it to be a rock and roll vehicle. I always knew while I had it that the New Beetle was for 20- or 30-something chicks who were into or needed something eclectic in their lives, or techno-geeks like me who didn’t want to buy a beemer with their high-tech winnings (thank gawd the Prius wasn’t out then).

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When I read the press release a couple of weeks ago, my initial reaction was “meh.” But in anticipation of NAMM next week, I decided to give the new series a look. I have to admit that while there are – at least to me – some impressive guitars in the lineup, I’m still a little “meh” about the whole thing. That said, the guitars that did impress me were the Telecaster SH and HH models, and the Strat HSS; in other words, the axes with humbuckers. What about the Jazzmasters? Never really been a big fan of those for some reason. It’s not that they’re bad guitars, but they’ve just never appealed to me.

I think also that I’m actually a bit sick and tired of all the demos that do all those blues runs; especially with the Strats. Okay, there are lots of blues players that use Strats, but I’m pretty tired of hearing the same runs over and over and over again. I know that shouldn’t be a mark against the guitar, but when I hear those blues licks now, I sort of tune out. But that’s just personal preference. I’ll let you make your decisions. Check out the product demo:

As far as the whole “select” thing goes, yeah, I can see how the tone woods and figured tops can make a difference. Cosmetically, these are some of the most beautiful Fenders I’ve seen in awhile. But to me, the Select series is simply a product gap filler between the American Series and the Custom Shop models. The price point on these guitars ($2500 range) is not bad at all. But then again, for my own personal taste, I’d probably look to a Les Paul Standard for that kind of money. That’s just me though… To be fair though, I’ll have to play the guitars to see if I change my mind…

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I know, I’m always like… I normally don’t reprint press releases, but this is an exception… 🙂 Yeah well, here’s another exception. The new Chris Shiflett Tele Deluxe Signature Model. I got the press release in my email this morning. As I was deleting the ads – of which this was one – I stopped when I looked at this Tele Deluxe because it looked like a Les Paul configuration, with the independent volume and tone knobs and the 3-way switch on the upper bout of the body. So I gave the link on the email a click. Didn’t even bother looking at the details on the page; I just went to watch the video. Here it is…

The ‘buckers on this are apparently a bit hotter than your standard Fender ‘buckers. That’s VERY cool. For me, I love the sound of a Tele, but a Tele capable of some drive? Getoutatown! Then top this off with a $899 MSRP, which means that the guitar will probably sell around $600 street.. F-me!!! When it’s finally released, I’m going to take a good look at this guitar.

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I love it when a company re-invents a line. The Fender American Vintage Series has been a mainstay product line for Fender for many years – probably their oldest product line – and they’ve completely recently re-vamped the series with all hand-made in the US of A. Now normally when I get news of Fender doing anything “new,” my reaction is typically, “meh.”

But this news intrigued me because of the detail that Fender took in re-creating these guitars from actual vintage models; making direct measurements to the instruments themselves as opposed to going off blueprints, and more importantly creating period-correct pickups. Then when I reviewed the Fender American Vintage Series site itself, I smiled to see that what Fender was creating was NEW guitars, not banged up relicked ones like the Roadworn Series.

So what you get with these guitars is brand-new, showroom-quality guitars built as if you were buying them when they were released. That’s a deal-maker for me! And these aren’t cheap offshore repros. They brought production back to the US for these and that pleases me – a lot. So American-made, period-correct, fresh-off-the-showroom-floor guitars? SOLD!

My personal favorite is the ’58 Telecaster – I love blondes. 🙂  John 5 compared that to his own ’58 and said he’d put his own safely under the bed and take the new on the road with him. What an endorsement!

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I’ve admittedly had my eye on a Fender Jaguar for years. I played one a few years ago at a local shop and fell in love with its tone. It kind of sounds like a Strat, or is it a Tele… It certainly has a variety of tones that it can produce, all coming from its various switches. And that’s sort of the rub for me. There are six switches on the guitar, and each affects a different thing.

What got me first interested in this guitar was that I first noticed it back in the 90’s when the Tom Hanks-directed movie “That Thing You Do” featured one, played by the lead guitarist, Lenny, played by Steve Zahn. He probably wasn’t playing the guitar, but it sure looked pretty cool just the same.

It’s actually VERY cool, but it’s one of those guitars that would take a lot of time for me to dial in. I was able to get some great tones almost immediately, if memory serves, but I do remember that I spent more time trying to figure out what switch combinations worked for me than actually playing the guitar, so that was a bit counter-productive.

But still, there’s a certain appeal about the guitar. For one, it looks very cool. I dig the body shape, with its rounded lines. The neck is only 24″ long, so it’s an easy player. The C-shape neck is very comfortable. And on top of that, it weighs less than 9 lbs.; not super-light, but not as heavy as a Les Paul. The American Vintage Series like the one in the picture can be had for around $1600. Not really too cheap, but not bad. And you can get one on sale for a few hundred bucks less because these guitars just don’t move that quickly. For instance, the one I checked out was on sale for something like $1200, but I got my Gibson Nighthawk instead – and I no longer have it, either. 🙂 I’m pretty sure I’d hold on to this one if I got.

In the vintage market, original ’62’s (the first year they came out) can be had for about $6000 on eBay. Again, probably out of my reach right now, but certainly not a bad price for a vintage guitar – and certainly not a bad price for a first production year guitar.

Maybe one day… I do have a few guitars on my “to get” list that are ahead of it, like a Les Paul Supreme, but this is definitely a “getter.”

Here’s a pretty good video demo of a vintage Jaguar:

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There’s something about “Fender” and “high-gain” that seems like an oxymoron. Most people equate the Fender tone with lush cleans and open, low-gain overdrive. They’ve tried to break into the high-gain market in the past with the ProSonic and SuperSonic models, and they haven’t fared too badly, considering the likes of Matthias Jabs of the Scorpions uses a ProSonic. But it’s hard to break through an image, decades-long in the making.

To help “cut” (pun intended) through that image, Fender recently released the new Machete. This is a two-channel, 50 Watt, 1 X 12 combo that has the capability of producing the classic Fender cleans we all know and love, to some very high and over-the-top high-gain tones. Each channel has independent 3-band EQ. But there are other features that will help players dial in their tones such as an input pad switch for use with guitars with active pickups; a Notch control that changes the midrange point, and a Damper control to roll off highs.

All in all, this is a pretty smart offering from Fender. Here’s Fender’s official demo video:

It’s very cool-looking with that 60’s-70’s, black, retro styling. But it does cost around $1900. That’s actually not too bad of a price, but it’s not cheap either. That’s the other image thing with Fender. They’re known for inexpensive gear relative to their competition. I suppose if they’re competing against the boutique manufacturers, then they’re staying true to that practice. However, most popular boutique amps follow a more vintage path to tone.  I suppose they could be going after Soldano and Hughes & Kettner for high-gain.

No matter, it’ll be interesting to see how this amp fares in the market.

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This morning, I ran across this article stating that Fender has filed with the SEC for a public offering of $200 Million. $100 Million of that will go to pay down debt; currently Fender has a debt load of $246 Million. The other $100 Million will be used to grow revenue.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. For one, I’ve seen and been involved with companies that have gone public. There’s nothing that kills innovation and creativity more than going public and having to answer to Wall Street and financial analysts’ expectations. Granted, those companies have been tech startups, and Fender is far from being a technology company. So perhaps this infusion of cash will help them. But the following excerpt kind of bugs me (not completely mind you, but it’s a bit of a concern):

With sales in 85 countries, Fender said revenue could get a boost from growing interest in guitar-based music from emerging markets like China, India and Indonesia. But it warned that increasing popularity of other types of music, such as rap or house, could hurt demand for its guitars.

Let’s face it: Asia is the land of cheap ripoffs and unabashed product forgery, so I’m a bit concerned about the expansion into the Asian market. However, that said, Fender has a great brand, and it can get a lot of mileage trading on that brand.

Don’t get me wrong; I really wish Fender well. I’ve got and have had several Fender products over the years, so yeah, I’m a believer. I only hope they’re not over-reaching and hope that they can maintain their quality by being traded publicly.

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