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This article was originally published in issue #18
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Fender brilliantly created a time machine with its Pawn Shop series - journeying back to the 1960s to create "guitars that never were but should have been." Rick Graham tries one of the latest additions to the range, the Super-Sonic.
Fender's Pawn Shop Range of instruments continues to evoke the more eccentric Fender creations of the mid-'60s to mid-'70s, while at the same time delivering a bang-up-to-date modern marriage of quality and sound. This year has seen new additions to that hugely successful range of guitars, one of which is the subject of this review, the Fender Pawn Shop 'Super-Sonic'.
The Super-Sonic is in actual fact a reincarnation of a model which was first released back in 1997 brandishing the Squier logo and belonging to the Japanese 'Vista' range, which was unfortunately very short lived. This resurrection has remained faithful to the original, though, so the efforts of the original designer, Joe Carduci, weren't in vain after all. Let's take a closer look at this eye-catching guitar.
If you're anything like me, the first time you lay eyes on this guitar it feels like you have somehow seen it before. In actual fact, the body shape is a reverse Jaguar. The story goes that Joe Carduci had seen Jimi Hendrix play a Jaguar upside down, which became the inspiration for this model. The backwards antics don't end with the body shape either but I'll elaborate a little later!
At the heart of the Super-Sonic is an alder body which is coupled with a bolt-on maple neck. The neck plate itself, which is attached to the rather interestingly shaped neck heel, sports the original 'S' logo as found on the original Squire models. The "C" shape neck is short scale, measuring 24" and has 22 medium jumbo frets with a rosewood fretboard. It also has a vintage radius, measuring 9.5". The Super-Sonic sports the large, late 60's headstock but in reverse and looks uber cool.
Pickups are supplied in the form of 'Atomic' humbuckers, both of which are canted, unlike the original, on which only the bridge pickup was canted. There are separate volume controls for each humbucker and a three-way toggle selector switch, which with strategic positioning of the volume levels can be used as a killswitch.
The electronics are where things get interesting, or, I should say, a little confusing because everything is in reverse! Flicking the toggle switch up activates the bridge pickup and flicking it down activates the neck position. Also, the volume pots are in reverse too.
The Super-Sonic is available in three striking finishes: Apple Red Flake, Dark Gunmetal Flake and the finish of our review guitar, Sunfire Orange Flake.
In action, the Super-Sonic proved itself to be a very capable performer, offering some rather raunchy Rock tones via the powerful Atomic humbuckers. While the original Squire was purported to be a subtle instrument, the up to date version was certainly made to be centre stage in true Rock star fashion.
I have to say I was very impressed with all three pickup combinations and particularly liked the Strat-like tones with the middle position selected and with both pickups engaged. The unusual reverse wiring did feel very unusual to begin with and I found that I had to keep reminding myself to do the opposite. I also encountered tuning stability issues at times too.
I have to say that I was surprised by the Super-Sonic. Not only did it feel great to play but produced some excellent tones along the way. There's no denying that its looks may fall into the 'acquired taste' category but there is most certainly an element of coolness that I just can't put my finger on. The tuning issues did let the side down a little. They might be rectifiable with a good set-up but that's unknowable till someone tries. It is also not particularly cheap, which is why it has lost half a point.