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2014 Fender Roadshow

FenderRoadshowFly By Night Musicians Club

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The annual Fender Roadshow rolled into Fremantle last Thursday in celebration of the Fender Stratocaster’s 60th birthday.

It was a full house, with local guitar aficionados, music store gurus and Fender enthusiasts alike all on hand to see the latest products that Fender have added to their already extensive arsenal.

Unlike previous years, they started the night off with a look back to the grass roots origins of Fender with footage of workers in the original factory hand cutting, routing and painting guitars. This set the mood for the night as we all prepared to honor what has been the most recognisable guitar in the world for over six decades.

Roadshow veteran Greg Koch was back again and leading an all-star lineup of Australian musicians. Sessions guitarist extraordinaire James Ryan (Men At Work, Shania Twain, Ronan Keating) brought the shred to the party with Luke Hodgson (Bertie Blackman, Gotye) on bass and local lad Hayden Meggit (Ross Wilson) on drums.

After a few tuning issues due to the humid Perth weather the band launched straight into a medley of classic riffs, paying homage to the great guitarists that famously donned a Stratocaster. Dick Dale and Hank Marvin were the first players to be referenced before the band touched on songs by Clapton, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn through to Malmsteen, Blackmore and our very own Ian Moss. It was clear from the start that tonight would be all about the Stratocaster.

This year sees the release of four new commemorative models. First up was the AmericanStandard 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster. Unlike its American Standard series cousin, the commemorative edition is appointed with premium features that are usually limited to the most exclusive custom shop guitars. This ash body guitar is beautifully voiced by three special design, 1954 single coil Strat pickups and finished with gold hardware and a 60th anniversary commemorative neck plate.

Next up was the Classic Players 1950s Stratocaster. With a striking Desert Sand nitrocellulose lacquer finish, this would have to be one of the best looking guitars I have laid eyes on. Fender has (finally) found the perfect balance between a vintage specification reissue and a modern playing guitar in the Players Series. This guitar features a vintage 21 fret neck and is complimented by having vintage locking machine heads, synchronized tremolo system and five way pickup selector switch which not only makes this guitar extremely versatile, it also has greatly improved tuning stability.

The final guitar to round off the diamond jubilee celebrations is the American Vintage 1954 Stratocaster Reissue. Apart from a few minor modern appointments, this guitar is as close to an original 1954 Stratocaster as you’re ever going to get without taking out a second mortgage. The vintage 7.25” radius, one piece maple neck runs smoothly into an ash body finished in the original and undeniably classic two colour sunburst. This was the guitar that everybody was waiting to see, and nobody was disappointed. Fender have added a five way pickup selector switch and an O-shaped string tree for added tuning stability. They have also gone so far as to reissue the original Fender polish cloth that was given out with the original 1954 guitars.

Fender have also released a new, revolutionary series of American Deluxe guitars for 2014. The American Deluxe series has always been a player’s guitar. The addition of locking machine heads, noiseless pickups and a contoured heel to a traditional Strat or Tele make these guitars arguably the most versatile and reliable guitars in the Fender family. The new 2014 American Deluxe Stratocaster Plus looks like your typical Deluxe Stratocaster but Fender have taken the versatility of this instrument to the next level. It has all of the features that you expect from the deluxe series but also sees the addition of the new interchangeable personality cards. These personality cards fit into an easily accessible compartment on the back of the guitar and allow you to easily “re-wire” the guitar with specialised pickup and circuitry modification in record time. For the first time Fender have also introduced solderless electronics, making any permanent modifications a breeze.

There were also a few new Fender model basses to get excited about. The new Dimension bass series launches Fender basses into modern era. The double humbucking version of the Dimension bass is perhaps one of the most versatile guitars on the market today. With an 18 volt on board preamp, three way pickup selector switch and three band EQ, this guitar eliminates the need for you to own more than one bass.

The Fender Roadshow gives us a rare insight into what makes these guitars so special. It is also an exclusive opportunity to get up close and personal with the instruments and allow you to play them in a live music environment before shelling out. This year was undeniably a celebration of the Stratocaster. Although the team touched on updates to the Hot Rod series of guitars, the new Jim Root Jazz Master and upgraded acoustic line of guitars, this was a year to look back and celebrate the most revolutionary guitar in history, the Fender Strat.

ROY MILTON

Pictured

Left: American Standard 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster

Right: Classic Players 1950s Stratocaster

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