Review Date: Wednesday 12th of September 2012 12:41:04 PM Last Updated: Thursday 1st of January 1970 01:00:00 AM Reviewed By: Richard Purvis
Fender’s glitzy FSR offers a new set of sounds. Review by Richard Purvis
Delicate reader, excuse me, but when I opened the case I said a rude word. It’s gold, with an all-maple neck and a copper-coloured scratchplate – the visual equivalent of fishfinger curry with vanilla ice cream. If you don’t appreciate its brazen bling, consider a new scratchplate – a piece of mint-green plastic would transform this oddball into a stunner. Alternatively, the rosewood-board version comes in tasty ice blue with a white guard.
We did review the V-necked variant of the American Deluxe Strat in March 2011, but strangely this FSR (‘Fender Special Run’, a reference to the two limited-edition colour schemes) is a good couple of hundred quid cheaper than a Deluxe with a conventional finish.
In fact it’s almost exactly the same price as the American Standard – which is something of a bargain. The pickups are Fender’s Noiseless N3 stacked-coils and the push-button in the middle of the volume engages the S-1 circuit, opening up five new pickup combinations; the curved heel allows easy access to the upper frets, the tuners are locking types and there’s a tidy push-in vibrato arm (with no plastic tip) instead of the usual screw-in type. It’s a noticeably heavier guitar than the Standard.
Unplugged, the Deluxe has none of the open and breezy natural tone of the other guitar – it’s more solid and contained. Combine a soft acoustic voice with pickups that are effectively humbuckers in disguise and this golden wonder is surely in danger of sounding leaden. Well, it doesn’t… not exactly.
The five ‘non S-1’ settings are smoother and fuller than on the Standard, and Noiselesses cannot match single-coils for transparency and snap. A punk rocker might call this dull; a smooth bluesman or cruise-ship artiste may like its restrained sophistication and its impressive lack of background noise.
Then, just as you’re pondering whether this thing counts as a ‘real’ Strat, you hit the S-1 button and five entirely new sounds emerge. Three of them use two pickups in series, the other two use all three; not all are instant winners, and you probably wouldn’t take any of them over the normal settings, but they open up your options.
The most useful are likely to be positions 2 and 3, the in-series equivalents of standard positions 2 and 4; they’re a little warmer and less quacky, with enough character to be worth having in your arsenal.
There are several reasons why a lot of guitarists won’t like the FSR Deluxe, but it’s a fantastic player with some useful features, and our only quibble is the mismatch between its gaudy looks and tasteful tones.
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