Your Guide to buying a Fender Acoustic
Are Fender acoustic guitars any good?
Fender has made durable, fun-to-play acoustic guitars since 1963. The brand is one of the most famous when it comes to making guitars, and their instruments have been played by the likes of Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, and George Harrison
The Fender acoustic models aren’t known as top-of-the-line instruments like the brand’s classic electric guitars are, and most people don’t regard Fender as one of the best acoustic guitar brands. However, Fender is known for making affordable and great-playing acoustics for beginning and intermediate guitarists.
Neck and Body
Fender offers guitars in a range of body styles, from full-size dreadnoughts like the Fender Paramount Series PM-1E to smaller concert-style guitars like the Fender FA-235E. Smaller guitars like the FA-235E and the Newporter Special are great for smaller players because their smaller bodies are easier to hold.
Fender acoustics really shine when it comes to neck profiles. In particular, guitars in the California Series are known for having necks like electric guitars. These slimmer profiles are great for learning guitarists, but they’re also a great choice for guitarists who prefer electric guitar playability. For extra playing comfort, many Fender acoustics also have rolled fretboard edges.
Components & Features
Notably, lots of Fender acoustics, even those for beginners, come with electronics. Electronics are ideal for players who want to perform, but even for players who don’t intend to do so, they offer an advantage – most of these guitars have a built-in tuner. This makes it easy to tune up at any point.
The higher-end Fenders in these reviews come with nuts and saddles made of bone or composites like Tusq. For example, the CT-140SCE comes with a NuBone nut. (NuBone is a composite that’s very similar to Tusq.) Nuts and saddles made of dense, quality materials like these can add a surprising amount of richness to a guitar’s tone. Less expensive Fender guitars typically come with plastic nuts and saddles. If you wish, you can always upgrade these eventually.
Sound & Tone
One of the most important things when it comes to the sound of an acoustic guitar is whether or not it has a solid top. Solid-top guitars have a more nuanced and responsive, classic acoustic sound, and their resonance and sustain tend to be better than that of laminated tops.
That said, for beginners, a laminate-top acoustic is perfectly fine to learn on. Fender’s acoustic line includes some stunning laminate-top guitars, including the FA-345CE. This guitar has a flamed maple veneer that makes it especially eye-catching. There’s no single best Fender acoustic guitar for beginners, but nearly all Fender’s acoustic guitars are playable enough for any beginner.
On any guitar (but especially an all-solid model), the tonewoods have a major impact on tone. Both the PM-1E and the Newporter have a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides – a classic combination. The spruce top offers brightness and definition, and the mahogany contributes an earthy warmth that many players like.
Action, Fit & Finish
Many of Fender’s acoustic guitars have very low, playable action right out of the box. This is a must for beginners, and plenty of experienced guitarists prefer lower action, too. When the strings are closer to the fretboard, they are easy to press down, and they aren’t likely to cause finger strain.
The fit and finish of these guitars are generally outstanding. Even affordable models like the FA-345CE come with beautiful inlays and bright, exciting finishes. In many cases, new players will be more motivated to play if they have a guitar they feel they can be proud of. Quality control seems to be a strength of Fender’s – while you may sometimes hear about a guitar arriving with fret buzz or action issues, most of these guitars arrive with everything securely fitted and no issues whatsoever.
Reliability & Durability
Most of the acoustic guitars in these reviews are reliable thanks to their good-quality components. You aren’t likely to find a Fender acoustic that goes out of tune easily, and most issues that arise can be fixed with a quick truss rod adjustment. In some cases, Fender even includes accessories that extend the life of the guitar. For instance, the Paramount Series PM-1E comes with a hardshell case and a humidifier. Using humidifiers with acoustic guitars helps reduce their risk of cracking, and it keeps them in top playing condition.
Most of the acoustic guitars in these reviews can stand up to some knocking around, but all-laminate options like the FA-345CE and the FA-235E are the most durable. Whether from humidity changes or abuse, laminate guitars are far less likely to crack.