This January, in the lead up to 2018’s NAMM convention in Anaheim, Fender announced the release of its latest range, the American Original series. The American Original will be the new top of the range Fender line outside of the Custom Shop and will replace the American Vintage range. In recent years Fender has undertaken an overhaul of many of its flagship lines; In 2017, the long running American Standard range was replaced with the American Professional series, and before that in 2016 the American Deluxes were replaced by the American Elites.
As a company constantly striving to improve their offering of instruments, the American Original range promises to be a great re-vamp of the American Vintage instruments. While they will no longer be year specific, and instead be specific to more general decades or eras from Fenders production, the American Original series promises to have vintage correct appointments, authentic vintage tone and genuine nitrocellulose lacquer finishes combined with a much more modern playability.
The range centres around three key decades of Fender production, with 6 guitar and 4 bass models spread over the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The 1950’s era instruments include a Butterscotch Blonde Maple neck Telecaster and three Stratocasters finished in 2 Colour Sunburst, White Blonde and the stunning custom colour Aztec Gold; a welcome new addition to the range. All of these instruments feature 50’s voiced pickups that have been designed with great care to be as authentic as possible. The Telecaster sports a full feeling ‘U’ neck profile, while the Stratocasters all have a mid/late 50’s soft ‘V’ shape. This is paired with a 9.5” radius as it is throughout the whole of the American Original range, providing a more modern feel and improved playability.
The theme of lesser seen yet ever popular custom colours continues in to the 1960’s era instruments, with the Jazzmaster and Jaguar offset ranges including Surf Green, Olympic White, Candy Apple Red and Ocean Turquoise finishes. Once again, all these models have painstakingly period correct sounding pickups, along with traditional pickup switching and a more modern feeling 60’s neck profile. On the Jazzmasters and Jaguars in particular, it is the more nuanced aesthetic touches that feel as if they make the real difference, with the white bound neck on both models a great addition.
Telecaster and Stratocasters from the 60’s era are also ever present, with specifically era voiced pickups and a slightly slimmer mid 60’s ‘C’ shape neck profile. The Telecasters especially stand out for me in this range, with Fender opting to use the elegant and historic double bound body Telecaster Custom design as opposed to the standard model, again in some great finishes such as Fiesta Red and Lake Placid Blue.
All in all the American Original range really shows off Fenders commitment to preserving and utilising it’s illustrious past. While some will bemoan the lack of a vintage correct fingerboard radius, it is a minor change that I think on the whole the majority of players will certainly prefer. As well as this, in contrast to the American Vintage range it’s great to see so many cool custom colours available on American made Fender instruments outside of the Custom Shop. Overall the feel and tone of the American Original Series shows how committed Fender are to continuing to manufacture high quality period correct instruments, and I’m sure the American Original range will go on to have the same longevity and impact on guitarists as the Fender instruments that have come before it.