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Offset guitars have made a comeback with a vengeance, however there are players that pick one up and get confused with the switches and the tonal offerings of the pickups. Fender has blended that classic and now contemporary shape with a simplified pickup and control layout that any player would love to investigate.
The body is alder, and our test guitar came in a beautiful off-white “buttercream” finish. It’s paired with a 25.5” scale, 22-fret maple neck and Pau Ferro fingerboard. With a 9.5 radius fingerboard and a Modern C shape neck profile, it’s quite comfortable. The fretwork and the guitar’s overall fit and finish were very well done. Like a traditional Jazzmaster, there is the usual vintage style tremolo, but the bridge has a bit more modern features like total adjustability. Vintage versions had the reputation of the low E string popping out frequenctly. Not here. It’s got the heritage, but not the headache of an old instrument.
The electronics are a lot more simplified compared to a traditional Jazzmaster, with just two humbuckers with Alnico 2 magnets. A master volume and master tone control pairs with a 3-way toggle mounted on the pickguard’s lower bout. For more flavor, the tone knob is a push/pull and splits the humbuckers into single coil mode.
Plugging it in, it felt and sounded great, with plenty of girth in full humbucking mode – the neck pickup through a dirty amp screams “power rhythm” with a big fullness that’s not woofy. The bridge pickup is tight, with excellent overall attack and top end chime, that doesn’t get too harsh. Together, they balance nicely; one isn’t overpowering the other. With the coil tap engaged it gets nice and slinky. It won’t out-Strat a Strat, but it does maintain volume output, and when both pickups are used together in this mode, it certainly gets into that nice dry bite a Tele has in the center position.
The tremolo is very traditional, however there’s no trem stopping/stopping system. It’s quite smooth overall and feels great. Doing classic dips and twangs, it stayed in tune nicely. It did seem to take a few dive bombish dips well — there was some slight out of tune-ness, but a regular Strat trem would have had the same issue. Finesse and grace is the name of the name of the game with one of these, and when the player gets comfortable with it, tasty is the best way to describe its unique feel.
For players who might wanna dip their toes into the offset realm, but not commit to the traditional Jazzmaster style pickups and unique electronics, this fits the bill. It nails the humbucking tones and delivers great usable single coil sounds with the coil tap.
We have to note our test guitar did have one issue; the pickup selector switch. Ours was a bit wonky. Switch it to a different position, and nothing happened. After toggling it through the other positions, back and forth, it would eventually wake up and behave. It was a bummer though, considering every other aspect of this guitar was so well done, in design and build. We’ll chalk it up to getting shifted in transit, and it’s nothing a 5-minute fix won’t cure permanently.
Classic offset with modern, contemporary sounds, great overall feel
Our test model had a wonky pickup switch