California dreaming – Fender’s new acoustic range

Its longstanding rival Gibson may be in financial meltdown, but guitar brand Fender is going from strength to strength with the release of a new acoustic range.

Fender is best known for making electric guitars – its Stratocaster and Telecaster models have icon status in the rock world – while traditionally acoustics were more Gibson’s thing.

But with the acoustic market growing thanks to more women taking up the instrument, Fender decided the time was right to expand its acoustic offering with the new California Series.

In defiance of acoustic convention, the range has the look and feel of Fender’s famous electric guitars – from the Stratocaster headstocks and vibrant colours to the distinctive Fender body shapes – but a laid-back acoustic sound that, according to the Fender press people, reflects the independent and creative spirit of the west coast of the USA. (We’ll let you make up your own mind).

The series features three original Fender body shapes – Malibu, Newporter and Redondo – in several colours (our fave is cosmic turquoise) at three price points: California Player (US$399.99), California Special (US$699.99) and the California Classic (US$799.99). 

The diverse body shapes mean a comfortable playing experience for any guitarist – from the small and narrow-waisted Malibu, ideal for recording, to the larger Redondo, suited for ensemble playing.

Fender’s Billy Martinez says: “Everything about these guitars is uniquely Fender making them the ultimate tools for artistic creative expression. Whether you’re at the beach or rocking out with a band on stage, we’re offering players of all levels a chance to express their own creative style, standing out in the crowd with the bright colours and energy these guitars give off.”

Here’s a little bit more about each model:

California Player: Bold looks and inspiring sound. The satin finish mahogany neck features an easy-to-play, slim-taper C-shaped profile suitable for any playing style. When it’s time to plug in, solid-top California Player models also feature a Fishman pickup/preamp system for incredible amplified performance with pure, rich and resonant tone.

California Special: Top-notch build quality and sound. Optimised bracing reduces mass for superior resonance, while the upgraded bone nut and saddle grant them exceptional sustain. Featuring all-solid construction, the fully-painted solid Sitka spruce top and matching six-in-line headstock give the models a shot of electrifying attitude.

California Classic: Superb playability, distinctive looks and an unmistakable Fender vibe. The fully-painted solid Sitka spruce top and natural solid mahogany back and sides, as well as a matching painted six-in-line headstock and koa binding and rosette, give them an elegant two-toned aesthetic that was made for the stage.

California Special and California Classic acoustic guitars are equipped with a Fender- and Fishman-designed PM preamp specifically tuned to complement the unique shape and voice of each instrument—complete with tuner, frequency and phase controls.

Meanwhile, in another sign of its market confidence, Fender has named Ron Thorn as Fender Custom Shop Principal Master Builder and Kyle McMillin as Fender Custom Shop Master Builder.

Thorn brings decades of expertise in guitar luthiery, namely inlay work, to the Fender Custom Shop. He’s also built more than 800 custom instruments under the name Thorn Guitars and will now build exclusively for Fender Custom Shop.

McMillin has 15 years of musical instrument experience to the Fender Custom Shop. He’s just finished a five-year apprenticeship under Principal Master Builder Yuriy Shishkov – working on nearly 1,000 guitars with the esteemed builder.


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