Injecting new life into the standard line
For as long as there have been Fenders, there has been a Mexican standard line. The range, produced at the company’s factory in Ensenada, has traditionally offered players their first opportunity to own a guitar with that famous logo on the headstock.
Coming in just under the more traditionally aspirational American-made lines, the Mexican standards balanced quality, playability and performance with a retail price which didn’t break the bank. They offer all the benefits of owning a genuine Fender, but without the four-figure price tag. For many, they represented a first ‘proper’ guitar.
The original standard line, comprising Stratocasters, Telecasters, Precision and Jazz basses, and a smattering of other styles, propped up the brand perfectly for years. But times are a-changing, and Fender has moved to breathe new impetus into its intermediate line with the introduction of the new Fender Player Series.
These guitars are all Mexican-made, with the usual big-hitters all present and correct. Let’s look a bit closer at the Fender Player Series, and explain where the changes have been made.
Fender Player Series Stratocaster
If you add up all of the colour, pickup layouts and orientations, there are no fewer than 32 different Strats available in the Player Series. The OG Fender Player Series Stratocaster is the new go-to guy for those after that classic Strat experience. Three single coil pickups, maple necks with a comfy C-profile, all the usual colours. Taking the place of the old rosewood fingerboards is a wood called Pau Ferro, which has been introduced in response to changes in the international law which prohibit the trade of genuine rosewood. Fender claims the Pau Ferro alternative is largely similar, yet has a slightly tighter grain which results in a snappy, bright tone.
There are a few neat surprises in terms of finishes available, however. The 2018 vintage sees the introduction of Tidepool, which looks suspiciously similar to the Ocean Turquoise finishes of old (no bad thing.) There’s also a gorgeous Buttercream yellow finish, which is begging to be roadworn, and Sage Green Metallic.
Pickup combinations are here in force too. Aside from the usual, vanilla three single coil setup, there are models featuring humbuckers in the bridge, as well as an HSH configuration which places the more powerful humbucker in both the bridge and neck positions. There’s even a model with a licenced Floyd Rose bridge, perfect for players looking to perform more technically advanced styles.
Fender Player Series Telecaster
The new Fender Player Series Telecaster line-up also gets a shot in the arm, courtesy of some splendid new finishes. We’ve always thought black scratchplates on black bodies is a killer look, and the new Player Series Telecaster backs that up. The new range also offers a nod to one of the more under-rated Tele colourways with Butterscotch Blonde model, also featuring a black scratch. This achingly cool combo was used to good effect with the superb Baja range from a few years ago. We’re big fans.
Players looking for meatier tones will love the Fender Player Series Telecaster HH, with its dual humbucker configuration begging to be fed into an overdriven valve amp.
Fender Player Series Jaguar and Jazzmaster
Fender’s two most famous off-set guitars are also present in the new range. The Fender Player Series Jaguar comes in four finishes, including a rather natty looking Sonic Red with a black scratcher. It also steps away from Jaguar heritage slightly by making the bridge pickup a humbucker as standard on all four colourways.
The Fender Player Series Jazzmaster, meanwhile, also comes in four interesting colour finishes. Buttercream is making its presence felt here too, but if the prospect of an off-yellow Jazzmaster doesn’t do it for you then maybe the more traditional three-colour sunburst version will. As with the Jags, the new Jazzmasters all boast humbuckers in place of the more traditional P-90s you’d normally find there.
Fender Player Series Precision and Jazz Basses
It’s not just the six-stringers getting a new set of faces to admire. The new Fender Player Series Jazz bass collection is pretty comprehensive, offering a range of new finishes. Largely they’ve played it safe with the finishes here, majoring on the usual core black, white and sunburst variations, although the Buttercream and Tidepool finishes stand up well here. There are also four and five string versions on offer.
Likewise, the Fender Player Series Precision bass collection features the same range of high-quality finishes as its jazz brethren, which look as timeless now as they ever did.
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