Fender American Vintage II 1961 Stratocaster Review: Closet Classic

Vintage guitars are costly as a result of most individuals who play guitar grew up listening to them, seeing them on TV, and dreaming of proudly owning an actual one sometime. This reality has bolstered many manufacturers into the twenty first century, however few as a lot as California’s Fender, whose iconic Stratocaster is probably going the picture you’ve in your head while you assume “electric guitar.”

The early ’50s and ’60s fashions of the Strat have been reasonably priced instruments utilized by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and David Gilmour, however they’ve all however disappeared from the leathery arms of common musicians and into the smooth mitts of collectors.

Fret not—we now have our greatest possibility ever to really feel identical to our heroes of the mid-century: Fender’s revamped American Vintage II assortment. With a guitar like the brand new, off-white 1961 American Vintage II Stratocaster simply launched this fall, I can shut my eyes and really feel what Hendrix felt at recording studios within the early Sixties (albeit right-handed). There’s vintage-spec paint, neck, frets, pickups, and {hardware}; the brand new (previous) mannequin sings with the identical depth however with out the identical ability from my fingers. It appears like hopping again to the previous each time I plug in my cable.

Vintage Specs

Photograph: Fender

There’s a motive why obsessed purists will solely play the classic stuff, and that’s why Fender has recharged its classic reissue twice previously decade, now designed to span extra eras, extra devices, and to be extra year-specific (somewhat than decade-specific) in its choices. These modifications don’t simply develop the road, they assist with interval accuracy—in contrast to a number of the imprecise homages we’ve seen from Fender and others previously, with trendy specs and classic specs blended in to provide the better of each worlds.

Unlike previous guitars, which borrow the most effective of a number of years, the American Vintage II 1961 Stratocaster is a devoted copy of the guitars that rolled off the road in that 12 months (with higher high quality management). You get basically precisely what Hendrix did if he purchased it from a store in New York City that very same 12 months: a pleasant brown hard-shell case, the off-white guitar with mint inexperienced pickguard, and a tremolo arm. Nerds will know that Hendrix’s pickguard would have been inexperienced due to the colour bleed-through on the three-ply white-black-white guard. This pickguard, made with higher plastic, is simply coloured to match the classic look.

You do, nevertheless, get precise brown clay dot inlays on a beautiful rosewood slab fretboard, and the guitar is completed in era-correct nitrocellulose lacquer, so it would break in over time, like a baseball glove. The lacquer is not fairly as skinny because the stuff used on the unique guitars to my eyes, however that is possible as a result of the unique materials is simply too poisonous to be authorized. In any case, it has not one of the plastic, perfect-forever end from Fender’s different fashions that purists say don’t really feel or vibrate the identical of their arms or on their bellies.

Another vital issue is the 7.25-inch fretboard radius, which is rounder than the fret aspect of most trendy guitars. I discover that this makes it simpler to play chords on the Vintage II Strat, however more durable to play quick notes and bends up excessive. It additionally offers the neck a springier, faster really feel while you bend strings, a minimum of to my arms.

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