In 2018, nostalgia is king, everything old is new again, and remakes and reimaginings abound. Fender is capitalizing on this resurgence of old-school cool with its latest line of guitars and basses, the American
The American Original Series is inspired by some of Fender’s most popular models from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. “The idea was to honor the past but look to the future,” explained Justin Norvell, Fender’s senior vice president, Fender Products. “We wanted to create a line that celebrates all of the things that players love about vintage-styled instruments — lacquer finishes, the neck shapes, pickups and sonics, etc. — but to marry that with a subtly more modern playability. If someone desires a vintage-styled instrument, these have the same specs as the old guitars and basses for a fraction of the price. Plus, with modern manufacturing tech, the quality and repeatability to make great instruments is at an all-time high. These are professional, connoisseur-level tone machines.”
Fender prioritized the playing experience when designing the American Original Series, rather than simply recreating the tried-and-true classics. With this approach in mind, Fender was able to mix and match highly regarded features from past models and combine them with modern flourishes to create entirely new instruments. “We wanted to unshackle ourselves a bit from the dogma of a specific year’s specs, freeing us up to make ‘greatest hits’ feature sets from a decade — the neck shape of a ’56 Strat with the pickups of a ’59 strat, etc.,” said Norvell. “We make instruments for players to use, so playability trumps accuracy for accuracy’s sake.”
Fender anticipates that the American Original Series will be a big hit among instrument connoisseurs and musicians who have an appreciation for the instruments that were used to write America’s musical history. “The ideal customer is someone who knows specs, and who values the origin story and era of vintage instruments,” said Norvell. “Tone-conscious players will love these instruments. The craftsmanship, materials and specs are all catered to that higher-end player.”
However, the American Original Series has plenty to offer fans of vintage-era music, whether they’re high-end players or not. “There’s the attachment, the inexorable link to musical history that these instruments provide, and those sounds and images are edified in our collective consciousness via the musical history that was written and recorded on these instruments,” said Norvell. “The American Original Series hits the right notes in that recipe.”
Early feedback on the series from musicians and retailers alike has been positive. “Players are very happy with the playability improvements, and dealers and consumers are excited about certain features that haven’t been available in a long time, like the double-bound Telecaster,” said Norvell. “These have everything people want from a vintage perspective, but nothing that they don’t.”
The American Original Series consists of the following models: ’50s Stratocaster (available in left- and right-hand variants), ’50s Telecaster (available in left- and right-hand variants), ’50s Precision Bass, ’60s Stratocaster (available in left- and right-hand variants), ’60s Jaguar, ’60s Jazz Bass, ’60s Jazzmaster, ’60s Precision Bass and ’70s Jazz Bass. Models in the series are available in 13 color variants: Aztec Gold, White Blonde, Two-Color Sunburst, Olympic White, Candy Apple Red, Three-Color Sunburst, Butterscotch Blonde, Fiesta Red, Lake Placid Blue, Surf Green, Ocean Turquoise, Natural and Black. All American Original guitars and basses are handcrafted in Corona, Calif.
According to Fender, the American Original Series is intended to replace the company’s American Vintage Series. MSRP for American Original Series models ranges from $1,799.99 to $2,099.99. All American Original Series models are available now.