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This article was originally published in issue #57
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The Redondo Classic we’re looking at sits at the top of the range but is still very comfortably under a grand. It’s painted top is solid sitka spruce, with natural mahogany back, neck and sides and some lovely maple accents.
Bold, striking looks
Great plugged-in sound
The styling won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Solid Mahogany Back, Sides & Neck
Solid Sitka Spruce Top
Slim C Neck Shape
Fender California Series Redondo Classic in Hot Rod Red Metallic
MSRP £749 (UK) $799 (US)
Featuring a lightweight mahogany neck with a comfortable, easy-to-play, slim-taper “C”-shaped profile usually found on their electric models, Fender's California Series Redondo Classic exudes unmistakable Fender vibe, with an unexpected style that is sure to turn heads wherever you go. Nick Jennison tells us more.
As much as we love the timeless look of a well made acoustic with a natural spruce top, rosewood or mahogany back and sides some conservative variation of the 3-a-side headstock, it’s a little bit predictable. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a popular look with good reason, but familiarity does breed… if not contempt, perhaps apathy.
As artists, we express ourselves through our music, but also in the clothes we wear, the way we cut our hair (or in my case, don’t cut our hair), and in the instruments, we play. There’s a reason why we choose weighty Les Pauls or quirky Jazzmasters over mechanically and ergonomically superior instruments - they resonate with us as an outward expression of our inner selves. With the California series, Fender aims to bring the same spirit of self-expression to the acoustic player.
The range is stratified into three series: the budget-friendly Player series, the mid-priced Special series and the top-of-the-line Classic series. In turn, each series is made up of three body shapes: the parlour-sized Malibu, the round-shouldered Newporter and the dread-inspired Redondo. That makes nine models in total, but they have a few things in common. They all sport electric-inspired C-shape necks with Strat headstocks and a selection of absolutely stunning solid finishes.
The Redondo Classic we’re looking at sits at the top of the range but is still very comfortably under a grand. It’s painted top is solid sitka spruce, with natural mahogany back, neck and sides and some lovely maple accents. Visually, it’s absolutely stunning, and it only looks better up close.
Thanks to the electric-inspired neck and frets that are slightly larger than usual, it plays absolutely wonderfully, especially if (like me) you’re primarily an electric player. It’s quite a trip, in fact. Sonically, it’s not the most resonant guitar I’ve ever played - often the case with painted tops - but there’s still plenty of life and projection, especially when strumming or flatpicking. Where this guitar really shines is when you plug it in.
The Fender and Fishman designed PM preamp is voiced especially for this guitar, and it shows. The plugged-in sound is natural and rich without any need for additional processing and sounded great both through the monitors in our studio and through the Bose S1 portable PA we had on hand. The elegant control cluster is made up of a master volume, treble and bass controls and a sleek looking tuner. I must admit, it took me a while to work out how to activate said tuner (press firmly on the side of the display - press on the other side to reverse the phase), but once I’d figured it out I was very happy with how it performed. The display is bright and easy to read, and tuning is fast and accurate.
This is very much a guitar for the gigging musician. While the acoustic sound is very pleasant, the real strengths of this guitar are its effortless playability and excellent plugged-in sound. That, and the fact that it looks so cool it’s almost criminal.