Fender Road Worn Review
Product Review from George's Music:
Fender Road Worn Series
Style and tone right out of the box!
By Mark A. Shewchuk
George's Music, Springfield
Has an instrument ever chosen you to be it's owner?
The spank, ploink and snap of 25.5" scale length single-coil equipped guitars was what first caused me to be a fool for the visceral and tactile pleasures of playing the electric guitar. All these years later I still come home after work and instantly flip on the Fender tube amp. After drifting over to the dark side of Gibson (my friends all said I was cheating on my Telecasters) and acquiring a few sweet examples of their most iconic offerings, my responsible side said "Yo. Cool it with the guitars. You've got to play the nice guitars you already have". It was not to be...
A Relic For the Common Man?
Rarely do new guitars by the heavy hitters in the business inspire so much discussion and so many vigorously held opinions. Such is the case with the recently unveiled Road Worn series of guitars and basses offered by Fender. A Relic for the Common Man! Built to look and feel like a well-gigged instrument from Fender's glory days. Specs for the handful of models offered are available on Fender's website, so we'll focus on a singular example to illustrate how special these Road Worn guitars can be. I'll be speaking of the '60's Stratocaster in Olympic White. After all, specs are just numbers and descriptions you read on paper or a computer screen. You play a guitar with your hands and your heart.
Just a Finish, or a Feel?...
Mr. Grumpy-Pants comes out of the woodwork on this one. "You should put the wear on your guitar yourself by playing it," he says. It would take millennia to put wear on a thick Polyester gloss finish and exhaust you and your progeny. Have you ever smelled Nitro-cellulose lacquer? Man, that smell means some serious business is about to take place. Do you like the idea of your guitar being more resonant and the wood curing and aging with the years? I think you do. A light-weight nitro finished alder body, nice maple neck (satin poly finish, not nitro) and quality cut of rosewood fingerboard tell me that Fender got a good deal on good wood.
I recently saw a 1960 Stratocaster in Olympic White looking strangely similar to my Road Worn going for $40,000+ on EBay. If that doesn't get a Fender freak fired up I don't know what could.
This is a Fun Guitar
I didn't want or need another guitar. I was able to justify it to myself the moment I said out loud, "This is a 'fun' guitar".
The Dunlop 6105 narrow jumbo frets on the vintage (rounder) 7.25" radius keep bent notes from fretting out as can happen with smaller vintage frets. These frets are so fun to play on that I even keep 10-46 strings on instead of moving up to 11-48 like I do on my other Fenders.
The lack of finish on the tinted satin poly neck is so comfy that playing a gloss finish one afterward seems disappointing.
The wear on the body, neck, plastic parts and metal parts seems honest, not horribly contrived (although it is!) and stands up to vintage Fenders I've seen in person and on-line. This wear adds a roundness and smoothness to the instrument that makes it a joy to play. Plus, you can't resist looking at yourself playing it in the bathroom mirror (not like I've ever done that).
The neck profile seemed a little thin due to my recent Gibson infatuation, but in comparison to Fender's modern C shape it has just the right amount of shoulder to grab on to. It is thinner than the Classic Series '60's Stratocaster profile, probably in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience.
Some 'Old Heads' would take the Tex Mex pickups out the day they brought it home. Having tired of changing pickups to high end aftermarket vintage styled ones on almost all of my guitars, I am enjoying the fact that while a little on the bright side, this guitar is equipped with a couple of little things labeled "tone" that you can turn to remove that brightness. It sounds like a Stratocaster to me, so I'm not turning a screw.
Those players not caring for Sunburst may love the bluish-white Olympic White. It seems a different color in different lighting.
Having seen and played many of the guitars and basses in Fender's Road Worn series, I am impressed by the weight, feel and resonance of them. I think Fender knocked it out of the park with this one. It's not a pair of distressed jeans, Mr. Grumpy-Pants, but a fun guitar.
Form your own opinion by checking out the Fender Road Worn Series of guitars and basses at your local George's Music.
Mark Shewchuk is a sales associate at George's Music's Springfield, PA location and has been helping customers fulfill their guitar related dreams since June 2001. He enjoys reading, fishing, NPR, and dirty old Zildjian cymbals from the 60s.