Are Fender® Acoustic Guitars Good?

Fender®, arguably one of the most recognizable brands in music, enjoys an enviable reputation for their electric guitars and amplifiers. But, what about their acoustic guitars?

In the following article we’re going to take a closer look at Fender’s® acoustic guitar range, and how actual customers feel about them. We’ll also take a quick trip down memory lane and learn about the fascinating history of their first acoustic range.

Are Fender® acoustic guitars good? While not comparable in terms of workmanship and quality control as acoustic guitar brands such as Martin and Taylor, Fender® targets the beginner market and produce a range of good, affordable acoustic guitars. For beginners, a number of Fender® acoustic models are worth a look, particularly the Fender Alternative, and Classic Design Series, and compare favorably to acoustic guitars of a similar price range from Yamaha, Cort, and Washburn.

What makes a good acoustic guitar anyway?

How do you know if an acoustic guitar is good?

Good means many different thing to different people, but in the case of Fender® acoustic guitars, with the exception of the Acoustisonic series, good really means, good value as price has to be taken into consideration when discussing sub $500 guitars, which the majority of Fender’s® acoustic lineup consists of.

But, even discounting price for a moment, in terms of what makes a good guitar, a couple of things apply universally:

Manufacturing consistency

It’s difficult to say whether a model of guitar is good if the quality varies wildly, even between models within the same series.

In general, despite the advent of CNC technology resulting in more precise (and in most cases higher quality) entry to mid-range acoustic guitars, this continues to be a common theme.

Many guitars are now manufactured offshore e.g. away from the companies main headquarters due to wages and the cost of living being lower, resulting in lower production costs.  These countries include China, Indonesia, Korea, and Mexico.

That’s not to say workers in these factories are any less capable. But, generally when guitars are made in countries with lower manufacturing costs problems can develop as the company balances quality against total production costs, which can lead to inconsistent quality control.

Does it stay in tune?

Good guitars stay in tune. A guitar that won’t stay in tune could indicate a poorly cut nut, poor intonation, or too much play in the tuning machines.

Is the intonation correct?

Poor intonation essentially means the guitar is not in tune with itself (you can check by comparing the open string to the 12th fret octave). Poor intonation could indicate problems with fret positioning, the position of the bridge of the guitar, problems with the nut, an action that is far too high or a neck that requires truss rod adjustment.

Does it play well?

Issues such as a high action, loose frets, jagged fret ends or fret buzz all have an impact on playability, which indirectly affects how the guitar sounds and directly affects how enthusiastic a beginner might be to practicing and improving.

Does it sound good?

The real indication of a good guitar is how it sounds. Those new to guitar tend to put too much emphasis on how a guitar looks compared to how it sounds. But, just because you are new to the guitar doesn’t mean you should use your eyes over your ears to judge the quality of a guitar. Consider the following with regard to how the guitar sounds.

  • Buzzing: If you hear buzzes or mechanical vibrations the guitar either has a problem with the action e.g. the strings are buzzing the fret wires or the guitar has an item of loose hardware that is vibrating. This might only apply for specific frequencies e.g. you hit an open G string and the battery lid of your onboard preamp resonates with the frequency of the note played.
  • Tone: The tonality of the guitar will be affected by the the size and shape of the guitar to an extent, but mostly from the tone woods the guitar is made from, specifically with regard to overtones produced. A Spruce top will sound different to a Mahogany top, and a Cedar top will sound different again.
    Tone is subjective but in most cases if you are looking for a strummer e.g. a guitar to strum chords on spruce may be preferred. However, if you mostly play fingerstyle and prefer response, good note separation and articulation over clarity and volume Mahogany may be a better option.
  • Tonal balance: Body size, shape and tonewoods can affect the balance of a guitar. For example, does the guitar sound bass dominant? Or does the guitar place greater emphasis on the higher end frequencies? If, you are mostly interested in fingerstyle guitar a balanced guitar with perhaps more emphasis on the upper range may be preferable.
  • Volume: How loud is the guitar? If you favor volume, a larger body guitar will be louder than a small body.
  • Sustain: Good guitars tend to have good sustain, which is a measure of how long a note rings out after being played. In some cases, sustain is less desirable e.g. jazz guitarists put greater emphasis on clarity and note separation, and often prefer notes that decay faster.

The points above, all strongly relate to price.

For example, in the eyes of a beginner with a sub $500 budget, the materials used in the construction, along with standard of workmanship, playability and tone will be judged based on price. E.g. it’s a good sounding guitar that plays well, for under $500.

Whereas a good guitar in the eyes (and ears) of a more seasoned guitarist will largely come down to the quality of the workmanship, materials, and quality control.

In this regard we’re mostly talking about the materials aka tonewoods used for the body, and neck, the quality of the construction of the guitar, and the quality of the fretwork, which is often the difference between mid-range and high end guitars, acoustic or electric.

Other considerations might include the back and sides (not just the top) being constructed from solid wood (not laminate), the quality of the hardware e.g. tuners and nut and saddle, the materials used for the nut and saddle e.g. bone as opposed to plastic and included accessories e.g. a hard case.

While Fender® do cater to both the beginner and the more experienced guitarist, it’s fair to say the majority of their sales occur within the sub $500 beginner market, placing them in direct competition with brands such as Cort, Washburn and Yamaha.

In the $500+ market, Fender® tends to lose out to companies that either focus (almost) entirely on acoustic guitars (Taylor, Martin) or have been making acoustic guitars a lot longer e.g. Gibson.

So, with all of this in mind how do we give a verdict on the quality of Fender’s® acoustic guitar range?

Most experienced guitarists won’t consider Fender® acoustic guitars as good guitars. But, that misses the point as Fender® haven’t intentionally targeted this type of player.

Therefore, to give a verdict on Fender® acoustic guitars we really need to take the opinions of actual buyers who own Fender® acoustic guitars, not those who would never consider owning one.

With this in mind, for each guitar (and series of acoustics) Fender® currently has in their line up (as of October 2020, we’ve taken an average customer rating (where available) from five of the largest music retailers in the United States (amazon.com, sweetwater.com, guitarcenter.com, musiciansfriend.com, and reverb.com) and then calculated an average rating out of 5 stars.

 Keep in mind, some guitars aren’t available at some retailers or may be available but have not yet received a review from customers. 

But before we dive into the guitars themselves, let’s get a better perspective on what Fender® are trying to do with their acoustic range by taking a closer look at the history of Fender® acoustic guitars.


The history of Fender® Acoustic Guitars

Fender® began manufacturing acoustic guitars in 1963, partly in response to the ever-growing folk scene of the 60s.  Keep in mind, this was almost 13 years after they began manufacturing electric guitars .

This in itself, is quite unlike other iconic guitar companies such as Gibson who first started manufacturing acoustic guitars in the 30s before later expanding to include electric guitars from the early 50s, or Martin who were producing acoustic guitars as far back as 1833.

In this sense, Fender® never really had the heritage these brands have when it comes to acoustic guitars.

A new Take on the Acoustic Guitar

Fender® never really pitched themselves this way anyway, instead entering the market offering an innovative, and at times, bold new take on the acoustic guitar. It was more about the enjoyment of music rather than taking itself too seriously.

Fender®, say as much themselves on fender.com:

“A Fender acoustic guitar was for throwing in the car and hitting the beach. It was for coffeehouses and campfires”.
fender.com

That’s not to say they weren’t played by some big names at different times, including the man in black, Johnny Cash and the king, Elvis Presley, although it must be said, is far better known for his Gibsons, including the J200 and Ebony Dove. While most people would clearly associate Johnny Cash with Martin guitars.

In any case, the earliest Fender® acoustic models reflected this ‘less serious’ attitude from Fender®, and included features more akin to electric guitars including Stratocaster® style 6 in line headstocks, and bolt-on necks. Even the pickguards were screwed on.

Under the hood, the first Fender® acoustics featured a unique aircraft aluminum rod, ‘broomstick’ bracing system.

The Original Lineup

The original lineup in 1963 consisted of The King, the flagship guitar of the fleet, later reintroduced as the Fender Kingma in 1966.

The Concert (1963–1970), The Classic (1963 – 1966), and the Folk which was rather short-lived, being manufactured only between 1963 and 1964.

Looking Forward

In many ways not much has really changed when it comes to Fender’s® attitude toward the acoustic guitar.

Many Fender® acoustic guitars still look far from traditional, featuring Strat® style headstocks and bold colors but this is now mixed with a number of entry level instruments targeting the beginner market.

In this sense, it seems Fender® is still more interested in offering an accessible, and unique alternative to the acoustic guitar rather than competing at the higher price points of Taylor and Martin, perhaps with the exception of the recently released Acoustisonic (perhaps the most radical departure from traditional acoustic design yet seen) which we’ll take a closer look at below.


Fender® Acoustic Guitars Current Range

  • Please note, any prices listed below are accurate as of the time of writing. Prices do change over time, so if unsure please check.

Unlike the earliest days of Fender® acoustic guitars, the company now offers a broad range of acoustic instruments. These include:

  • The California series
  • The Paramount series
  • The Classic Design series
  • The Fender® Alternative series
  • The Artist Design series
  • The American Acoustasonic series

We’ll introduce each of the series below, and an average rating, starting with perhaps the most eye-catching, the California series.


The California Series

Fender® California Series

The California series is an obvious hat tip to Fender’s® initial foray into the world of acoustics guitars.

In fact, two of the California series models of guitar, the Malibu and Newporter were first introduced as far back as April 1965, and the Redondo was first introduced in 1968.

All of these models were discontinued in 1971 as the Fender® name started losing appeal after being taken over by CBS musical instruments in 1965. This remained the case until the late 80s when Fender® reintroduced a number of their earlier acoustics including the California series.

Today, the California series leans heavily on Fender’s® electric guitar design ethos featuring a range of bold body colors and slim-taper C shape Mahogany necks complete with Stratocaster® style headstock.

The California series includes 16 different guitars. Including left-handed, 12 string, and acoustic bass options:

  • The Newporter
    Orchestra style body shape, featuring a cutaway
  • The Malibu
    Smaller folk size body. Available in both a cutaway and non-cutaway design (Malibu special Mahogany and Malibu player)
  • The Redondo
    Dreadnought body shape, available in both cutaway (the Mahogany classic) and non-cutaway designs.
  • Villager 12™  string
    12 string guitar
  • Kingman™ Bass
    Short-scale acoustic bass guitar

The three primary models (Newporter, Malibu, and Redondo) are available at three different price points based mostly on whether the back and sides are constructed from solid wood or laminate along with the quality of the electronics.

For example, the less expensive Player models feature the Fender® exclusive CD-1 Fishman pickup/preamp systems.

The Special and Classic models feature a preamp system designed by Fender® in conjunction with Fishman, including additional features such as phase control to regulate feedback.

While prices may vary, at the time of writing the Player models are listed at $429. The special models from $729, and the Classic model at $799.

The California Player

The California player guitars feature solid Spruce tops, laminated Mahogany back and sides finished in a gloss poly and aged white binding.

Fender Newporter Player - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Champagne
Fender Malibu Player Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender Redondo Player – California Series Acoustic Guitar - Belmont Blue Finish
Fender Newporter Player - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Champagne
Fender Malibu Player Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender Redondo Player – California Series Acoustic Guitar - Belmont Blue Finish
198 Reviews
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198 Reviews
Fender Newporter Player - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Champagne
Fender Newporter Player - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Champagne
198 Reviews
Fender Malibu Player Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender Malibu Player Acoustic Guitar - Natural
-
Fender Redondo Player – California Series Acoustic Guitar - Belmont Blue Finish
Fender Redondo Player – California Series Acoustic Guitar - Belmont Blue Finish
198 Reviews

Guitars in this range include:

  • Newporter player (including L/H model)
  • Malibu player
  • Redondo player (including L/H model)

Specs: California Player

Body
Top (Soundboard) Solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Mahogany Laminate
Finish Gloss Poly
Binding Aged White
Rosette Black/White/Black
Bridge Pins Aged with black dots
Bracing Scalloped X
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 6 in-line (Strat® style)
Neck Shape Slim taper ‘C
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.6″ (650mm)
* Malibu Player 24.1″ (612mm)
Fretboard Radius 15.75″ radius
Nut Width 1.69″ (43mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® NuBone™
Inlays White (Plastic) dot
Tuners Sealed Nickel
Electronics
CD-1 Fishman pickup/preamp system (Volume, Bass, Treble)

Features

The neck is a slim-taper C shape, constructed from Mahogany and featuring a 15.75 (400 mm) radius and 1.69 (43mm) nut width.

The fretboard is constructed from Walnut and includes a Graph Tech® NuBone™ nut and saddle. For electronics the guitar utilizes the Fishman CD-1 pickup system.

Color options include Candy Apple Red, Champagne, Ice Blue Satin, Natural, Olive Satin and Sunburst, depending on the model of guitar. E.g. some models such as the Redondo player feature additional options including Belmont Blue and black.

The California Special

The California special models are available either in a painted solid Sitka spruce top, or solid Mahogany top.

Both options feature painted solid Mahogany back and sides and satin finish with maple binding and rosette.

Fender Redondo Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Newport Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Redondo Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Rustic Copper Finish
Fender malibu Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Newport Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Redondo Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Rustic Copper Finish
Fender malibu Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Redondo Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Newport Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Newport Special Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany
Fender Redondo Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Rustic Copper Finish
Fender Newporter Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Rustic Copper Finish
Fender malibu Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black with Gig Bag
Fender malibu Special - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Matte Black with Gig Bag

Guitars in this range include:

  • Redondo Special Mahogany
  • Newporter Special Mahogany
  • Redondo Special
  • Newporter Special
  • Malibu Special

Specs: California Special

Body
Top (Soundboard) Painted Solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Finish Satin
Binding Maple
Pickguard 3 ply
Rosette Black/White/Black
Bridge Pins Ebony with Mother of Pearl dots
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 6 in-line (Strat® style)
Neck Shape Slim taper ‘C’
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Pau Ferro
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.6″ (650mm)
* Malibu Player 24.1″ (612mm)
Fretboard Radius 15.75″
Nut Width 1.69″ (43mm)
Nut Material Bone
Inlays Maple dots
Tuners Sealed Nickel
Electronics
Fender® and Fishman designed preamp including Volume, Bass, Treble, with Tuner and Phase Controls

The neck, like the player, is a slim taper C shape, constructed from Mahogany and featuring a 15.75 (400 mm) radius and 1.69 (43mm) nut width.

The fretboard is constructed from Pau Ferro and features a bone nut. California Special guitars also come with a deluxe gig bag.

The California Classic

The California classic guitars are more or less the same as the special models, with a couple of small differences, including a painted Sitka Spruce top and natural finish back and sides along with a tilt-back headstock design.

This serves to increase the break angle over the nut, increasing the downward pressure on the nut which contributes to a brighter sounding guitar with additional sustain.

The California classic series also includes a deluxe gig bag.

Fender Malibu Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Cosmic Turquoise with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Malibu Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Cosmic Turquoise with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Malibu Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Cosmic Turquoise with Gig Bag
Fender Malibu Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Cosmic Turquoise with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic with Gig Bag
Fender Newporter Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic Finish with Gig Bag
Fender Redondo Classic - California Series Acoustic Guitar - Hot Rod Red Metallic Finish with Gig Bag

Guitars in this range include:

  • Malibu Classic
  • Newporter Classic
  • Redondo Classic

Specs: California Classic

Body
Top (Soundboard) Painted Solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Finish Gloss Poly
Binding Koa
Rosette Koa
Bridge Pins Ebony with Mother of Pearl dots
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 6 in-line tilt back (Strat® style)
Neck Shape Slim taper ‘C’
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Pau Ferro
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.6″ (650mm)
* Malibu Player 24.1″ (612mm)
Fretboard Radius 15.75″ radius
Nut Width 1.69″ (43mm)
Nut Material Bone
Inlays Maple dots
Tuners Sealed Nickel
Electronics
Fender® and Fishman designed preamp including Volume, Bass, Treble, with Tuner and Phase Controls

Villager 12 string

Originally introduced in 1965, the Villager 12 string features Fender’s® hockey stock headstock and includes a cutaway and onboard electronics.

Fender Villager 12-String, Black V3
Fender Villager 12-String, Black V3
Fender Villager 12-String, Black V3
Fender Villager 12-String, Black V3

Specs

Body
Top (Soundboard) (Black) Painted Solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Laminated Mahogany
Finish Gloss Poly
Binding White
Rosette 2 ring (black/white)
Pickguard 3 ply (gold)
Bridge Pins Plastic (white)
Bracing Forward Shifted Scalloped X (The center of the X is moved closer to the soundhole, increasing flexible strength of the lower bout of the guitar)
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock Painted ‘hockey stick’ style.
Neck Shape Slim taper ‘C’
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Frets 20
Scale Length 24.72″ (628mm)
Fretboard Radius 12″ (305mm)
Nut Width 1.77″ (45 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® NuBone™
Inlays Plastic (white)
Tuners Sealed Nickel
Electronics
CD-1 Fishman pickup/preamp system (Volume, Bass, Treble)

Kingman™ Bass

Short-scale bass guitar with cutaway.

Fender Kingman Acoustic Bass Guitar (V2) - Black - with Bag - Walnut Fingerboard
Fender Kingman Acoustic Bass Guitar (V2) - Black - with Bag - Walnut Fingerboard
Fender Kingman Acoustic Bass Guitar (V2) - Black - with Bag - Walnut Fingerboard
Fender Kingman Acoustic Bass Guitar (V2) - Black - with Bag - Walnut Fingerboard

Specs

Body
Top (Soundboard) Solid Spruce
Back and Sides Mahogany (laminate)
Finish Gloss poly
Binding Aged white
Rosette 2 ring (black/white)
Pickguard 3 ply (gold)
Bridge Pins 3 ply (gold)
Plastic (cream with black dots)
Bracing Forward Shifted Scalloped X
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 4 inline (traditional Fender® bass headstock)
Neck Shape Jazz Bass
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Frets 20
Scale Length 30.3″ (770 mm)
Nut Width 1.5″ (38.1 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® NuBone™
Inlays Perloid (White)
Tuners Open geared
Electronics
Fishman Preamp and tuner (bass, middle, treble and phase control)

Are they any good? 

Average rating: 4.63 stars

For the most part the California series has been well-received by its intended market. Purists are less likely to give it a second look, but based on the design and price range, this series of guitar will mostly appeal to electric guitarists looking for an alternative to the more traditional acoustic guitar design.

Below are the average individual ratings the guitars in the California series received from customers.

Newporter Player:

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: 4.5
  • Reverb.com: 4.1

Avg rating: 4.52

Newporter Special:

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center : 4
  • Musicians Friend: 4.5
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.5

Newporter Classic:

  • Amazon: 4
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center : NA
  • Musicians Friend: 4
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.16

Newporter Special Mahogany

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: 4
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.37

Malibu Player:

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 4.7

Avg rating: 4.88

Malibu Special:

  • Amazon: 4.5 stars
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : NA
  • Musicians Friend: 4.5 stars
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.5

Malibu Classic:

  • Amazon: 4 stars
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: 5 stars
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.75

Malibu Special Mahogany

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.5

Redondo Player:

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center : 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 4.8

Avg rating: 4.76

Redondo Special:

  • Amazon: 4.5 stars
  • Sweetwater: 5 stars
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.83

Redondo Classic:

  • Amazon: 4
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.75

Redondo Special Mahogany

  • Amazon: 4.6
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.86

Kingman™ Bass

  • Amazon: 4.6
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.86

Villager™ 12-String

  • Amazon: 3.8
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.6

The Paramount Series

Fender® Paramount Series

If the California series is the wild child of the Fender® acoustic guitar range, the Paramount series is the more refined older sibling, featuring a more traditional 3 a side headstock design and natural finishes.

The Paramount series include 3 models of guitar, the imaginatively named PM-1, PM-2, and PM-3.

PM 1

The PM 1 is a standard dreadnought shape (does not feature a cutaway) of the series and is available in both a standard all Mahogany option, or a natural Spruce top.

If you’re wanting to plugin however, you’re sadly out of luck as the PM-1 does not include electronics, so you’ll need to step up to the PM-2 or PM-3.

Fender Paramount PM-1 Standard Dreadnought - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-1 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Dreadnought Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-1 Standard Dreadnought - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-1 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Dreadnought Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-1 Standard Dreadnought - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-1 Standard Dreadnought - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-1 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Dreadnought Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-1 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Dreadnought Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case

Guitars in this range include:

  • PM-1 Standard Dreadnought, Natural
  • PM-1 Standard Dreadnought All-Mahogany NE

Specs: PM1

Body
Top (Soundboard) Open Pore Solid Mahogany or solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Finish Satin
Binding White, Black, Checker, Black
Rosette Checkerboard
Pickguard 1-Ply (Tortoiseshell)
Bridge Pins Ebony with MOP Dots
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Binding 3 ply (White, Black, White)
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Ovangkol
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.3″ (600mm)
Fretbaord Radius 15.75″
Nut Width 1.69″ (43mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® NuBone™
Inlays MOP dots
Tuners Open back Nickel
Electronics
NA

PM 2

The PM2 is a smaller parlour body shape and like the PM1 is available in both a standard all Mahogany option, or a natural Spruce top.

This model, like most small body acoustics does not feature a cutaway.

Fender Paramount PM-2 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Parlor Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-2 Standard Parlor - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-2 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Parlor Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-2 Standard Parlor - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-2 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Parlor Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-2 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Parlor Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-2 Standard Parlor - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-2 Standard Parlor - Natural

Guitars in this range include:

  • PM-2 Parlor NE, All-Mahogany, Natural
  • PM-2 Standard Parlor, Natural

Specs: PM2

Body
Top (Soundboard) Open Pore Solid Mahogany or solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Finish Satin (open pore)
Binding White, Black, Checker, Black
Rosette Checkerboard
Pickguard 1-Ply (Tortoiseshell)
Bridge Pins Ebony with MOP Dots
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Ovangkol
Neck Binding 3 ply (White, Black, White)
Frets 19
Scale Length 24.75″ (629 mm)
Fretboard Radius 15.75″
Nut Width 1.75″ (44.45 mm)
Nut Material Bone
Inlays MOP dots
Tuners Nickel
Electronics
Fender® and Fishman designed preamp including Volume, Bass, Treble, with Tuner and Phase Controls

PM 3

The PM3 is an orchestra body shape and like the PM1 is available in both a standard all Mahogany option, or a natural Spruce top.

Fender Paramount PM-3 Standard Triple 0 - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-3 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Triple-0 Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-3 Standard Triple 0 - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-3 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Triple-0 Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-3 Standard Triple 0 - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-3 Standard Triple 0 - Natural
Fender Paramount PM-3 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Triple-0 Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case
Fender Paramount PM-3 Acoustic Guitar - All-Mahogany - Triple-0 Body Style - Ovangkol Fingerboard - With Case

Guitars in this range include:

  • PM-3 Standard Triple-0, Natural
  • PM-3 Triple-0 All-Mahogany, Natural

Specs: PM3

Body
Top (Soundboard) Open Pore Solid Mahogany or solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Finish Satin (open pore)
Binding White, Black, Checker, Black
Rosette Checkerboard
Pickguard 1-Ply (Tortoiseshell)
Bridge Pins Ebony with MOP Dots
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish  Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Ovangkol
Neck Binding 3 ply (White, Black, White)
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
Fretboard Radius 15.75″
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Bone
Inlays MOP dots
Tuners Nickel
Electronics
Fender® and Fishman designed preamp including Volume, Bass, Treble, with Tuner and Phase Controls

All the guitars in the Paramount series come in either all Mahogany construction (open pore Mahogany soundboard) or standard construction featuring a Solid Sitka Spruce top, Mahogany neck with Ovangkol fingerboard.

All models feature Quartersawn Scalloped X bracing and black and white checker binding and rosette.

The standard construction guitars start at $829 and feature solid Sitka spruce tops, while the all Mahogany models start at $629.

Are they any good? 

Average rating: 4.60 stars

In general the Paramount series has been favorably reviewed, with guitarworld.com even naming them the best acoustic guitars Fender have ever produced.

Below are the average individual ratings the guitars in the Paramount series received from customers.

PM-2 Parlor NE, All-Mahogany, Natural

  • Amazon: 4.1
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : NA
  • Musicians Friend: 4
  • Reverb.com: 4.7

Avg rating: 4.26

PM-3 Standard Triple-0, NaturalAmazon: 3.9

  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.72

PM-1 Standard Dreadnought All-Mahogany NE

  • Amazon: 4.1
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 4.6

Avg rating: 4.67

PM-3 Triple-0 All-Mahogany, Natural

  • Amazon: 4.2
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.73

PM-1 Standard Dreadnought, Natural

  • Amazon: 4.1
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : 5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.77

PM-2 Standard Parlor, Natural

  • Amazon: 4.7
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center : NA
  • Musicians Friend: 4
  • Reverb.com: 4.8

Avg rating: 4.5

The Classic Design Series

Fender Classic Design Series

Fender has carved out quite the niche for themselves in the learner guitar market, especially when you take into account the ever popular Squier range of electric guitars, Fender play (an online guitar lesson platform aimed at beginners) and the classic design series of affordable acoustic guitars.

The classic design series builds upon this connection to the beginner market while incorporating a more traditional look and feel, more in line with the Paramount series than the California series.

The classic design series consists of 5 models, the classic design 140SCE, the 60SCE, and the 60S. All three models are available in three separate body styles, the appropriately named CD (dreadnought body shape) , CC (concert shape) and CP (parlour shape), while a nylon version is also available in the 140SCE and 60S range, and an acoustic bass included in the 60SCE range.

60S

Firmly aimed at beginners the Classic Design S models feature solid top construction, and laminate back and sides along with quartersawn Scalloped X bracing and rolled fretboards (the edge of the fretboard and fret wires are rounded off) for easier playing.

Fender CD-60S Solid Top Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar Natural Finish - All Mahogany
Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Fender CC-60S Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CN-60S Concert Nylon String Natural
Fender CD-60S Solid Top Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar Natural Finish - All Mahogany
Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Fender CC-60S Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CN-60S Concert Nylon String Natural
Fender CD-60S Solid Top Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60S Solid Top Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar Natural Finish - All Mahogany
Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar Natural Finish - All Mahogany
Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Fender CC-60S Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CC-60S Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CN-60S Concert Nylon String Natural
Fender CN-60S Concert Nylon String Natural

Guitars in this range include:

  • CD-60S (also available in LH model)
  • CD-60S, All-Mahogany
  • CP-60S Parlor
  • CC-60S Concert (also available in LH model)
  • CN-60S

Specs: 60S

Body
Top (Soundboard) Solid Spruce
*Solid Mahogany for all Mahogany model
Back and Sides Mahogany (laminate)
Finish Gloss
Binding Multiple (Black and white)
Rosette Perloid (plastic resembling Mother of Pearl)
Pickguard I ply black
* no pickguard on CN-60S model
Bridge Pins White plastic (black dots)
* no bridge pins on CN-60S model (nylon string guitars do not require bridge pins)
Bracing Scalloped “X” bracing
* Quartersawn Scalloped “X” on CD-60S, CD-60S all Mahogany, and CC-60S
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 3 a side traditional
* slotted headstock on CN-60S
Neck Shape Fender® ‘Easy-to-Play’ shape with rolled fretboard edges
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Neck Binding I ply black
Frets 20
*18 on CN-60S25.3″ (643 mm)
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
*CP model: 24.75″ (629 mm)
Fretboard Radius 12″ (305 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Plastic
Inlays Perloid
* Side dot only on CN-60S
Tuners Chrome Die-Cast
* Amber Pearloid Buttons on CN-60S
Electronics
NA

60SCE

The 60SCE series feature cutaways and onboard electronics, including a tuner. SCE refers to standard + cutaway + electronics, hence the model name.

Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Black Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Instructional DVD, Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CC-60SCE Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CB-60SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar - Black
Fender CD-60SCE Right Handed 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnaught Body - Natural
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Black Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Instructional DVD, Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CC-60SCE Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CB-60SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar - Black
Fender CD-60SCE Right Handed 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnaught Body - Natural
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Black Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Instructional DVD, Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Black Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Instructional DVD, Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar - All Mahogany Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Strap, Strings, Picks, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Fender CC-60SCE Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CC-60SCE Concert Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CB-60SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar - Black
Fender CB-60SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar - Black
Fender CD-60SCE Right Handed 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnaught Body - Natural
Fender CD-60SCE Right Handed 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnaught Body - Natural

Guitars in this range include:

  • CD-60SCE Dreadnought (left handed model also available)
  • CD-60SCE Dreadnought, All-Mahogany
  • CC-60SCE Concert (left handed model also available)
  • CB-60SCE Bass
  • CD-60SCE Dreadnought 12-String

Specs: 60S

Body
Top (Soundboard) Solid Spruce
*Solid Mahogany on all-mahogany models
Back and Sides Mahogany (Laminate)
Finish Gloss
Binding Multiple (Black and white)
Rosette Perloid
Pickguard 1 ply black
Bridge Pins White (black dots)
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
* Scalloped “X” on CB-60SCE Bass
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape  Fender® ‘Easy-to-Play’ shape with rolled fretboard edges
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
* Indian Laurel on CB-60SCE (acoustic bass)
Neck Binding I ply black
Frets 20
* 22 on CB-60SCE (acoustic bass)
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
* 32″ (813 mm) on CB-60SCE (acoustic bass)
Fretboard Radius 12″ (305 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
*1.77″ (45mm) on CD-60SCE DREADNOUGHT 12-STRING
Nut Material Plastic
Inlays Perloid
Tuners Chrome Die-Cast
Electronics
Fishman® CD Preamp (Volume, Bass, Treble)

140SCE

The 140-SCE differs from the 60-SCE in that it additionally includes a hardshell case and upgraded electronics in the form of the Fishman® CD Preamp, offering volume, vass, treble, tuner and low battery light indicator. A 1-Ply Tortoiseshell pick guard and Graph Tech® NuBone™ nut are also included.

Fender CD-140SCE 12-String Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CN-140SCE Nylon - Walnut Fingerboard - Black - with Case
Fender CD-140SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar With Case - Dreadnaught Body Style - Natural Finish
Fender CD-140SCE 12-String Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CN-140SCE Nylon - Walnut Fingerboard - Black - with Case
Fender CD-140SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar With Case - Dreadnaught Body Style - Natural Finish
Fender CD-140SCE 12-String Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CD-140SCE 12-String Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender CN-140SCE Nylon - Walnut Fingerboard - Black - with Case
Fender CN-140SCE Nylon - Walnut Fingerboard - Black - with Case
Fender CD-140SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar With Case - Dreadnaught Body Style - Natural Finish
Fender CD-140SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar With Case - Dreadnaught Body Style - Natural Finish

Guitars in this range include:

  • CD-140SCE 12-String
  • CN-140SCE (classical guitar)
  • CD-140SCE All-Mahogany
  • CD-140SCE

Specs: 140SCE

Body
Top (Soundboard) Solid Spruce
*Solid Mahogany on all-mahogany models
Back and Sides Laminated Ovangkol
*Laminate Mahogany on all-mahogany models
Finish Gloss
Binding Multiple (Black and white)
Rosette Perloid
Pickguard 1-Ply Tortoiseshell
*none on CN-140SCE (classic guitar)
Bridge Pins White plastic (black dots)
*none on CN-140SCE (classic guitar)
Bracing Quartersawn Scalloped “X”
*fan bracing on CN-140SCE (classic guitar)
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock 3 a side traditional
*Slotted headstock on CN models (classic guitar)
Neck Shape Fender® ‘Easy-to-Play’ shape with rolled fretboard edges
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Neck Binding I ply black
Frets 20
*18 on CN-140SCE (classic guitar)
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
Fretboard Radius 12″ (305 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
*1.77 on CD-140SCE 12-String
Nut Material Graph Tech® NuBone™
Inlays Perloid
*side dot only on CN-140SCE (classical guitar)
Tuners Chrome Die-Cast
*3-In-Line (Amber Pearloid Buttons) on CN-140SCE (classical guitar)
Electronics
Fishman® CD Preamp (volume, vass, treble, tuner and low battery light indicator)

Prices range from $199 for the ‘S’ (standard) models.  The 60 SCE models which include Fishman electronics come in at $329, and the 140SCE with hardshell case and upgraded electronics will set you back $439.00

The classic design series are firmly entrenched in the sub $500 category and for this price you won’t normally see solid wood construction back and sides.

Are they any good? 

Average rating: 4.58 stars

Serious guitarists aren’t going to be lining up for a CD60 anytime, but this isn’t the intended market for these guitars which otherwise represent good value for money, if not a little inconsistent (according to reports from some customers) with regard to manufacturing quality and quality control.

Below are the average individual ratings the guitars in the Classic Design Series received from customers.

CD-60 Dreadnought V3

  • Amazon: 4.6
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 4
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.53

CD-60S

  • Amazon: 4.6
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 3.7

Avg rating: 4.56

CD-60S Dreadnought, All-Mahogany

  • Amazon: 4.7
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 3

Avg rating: 4.42

CP-60S Parlor

  • Amazon: 4.7
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 4

Avg rating: 4.64

CC-60S Concert

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.87

CN-60S

  • Amazon: 5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 5

CD-60S Dreadnought, All-Mahogany

  • Amazon: 4.7
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 3

Avg rating: 4.3

CD-60SCE Dreadnought

  • Amazon: 4.6
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: 4.1
  • Reverb.com: 4.4

Avg rating: 4.42

CD-60SCE Dreadnought, All-Mahogany

  • Amazon: NA
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 4.7

Avg rating: 4.6

CC-60SCE Concert

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.66

CB-60SCE Bass

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 4
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 4.5

Avg rating: 4.6

CD-140SCE

Amazon: 4.3
Sweetwater: 4.5
Guitar Center: NA
Musicians Friend: NA
Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.6

CD-140SCE All-Mahogany

Amazon: 4.3
Sweetwater: 4.5
Guitar Center: 4.5
Musicians Friend: 4.5
Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.56

CD-140SCE 12-String

Amazon: 4.5
Sweetwater: NA
Guitar Center: 4.5
Musicians Friend: NA
Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.66

CN-140SCE

  • Amazon: 3.8
  • Sweetwater: 4.6
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 4.5

Avg rating: 4.3

The Fender® Alternative series

Fender® Alternative Series

Fender® pitch the alternative series as the perfect beginner’s instrument, in fact just for good measure, the alternative series even includes  a ¾ size guitar for children.

Visually they’re somewhat of a compromise between Fender’s® earlier, less traditional acoustic guitars, combined with a sense of the more traditional in terms of body shape.

The alternative series features four series of guitars.  The 15, 100, 200, and 300 series.

All guitars feature laminate back and sides, which Fender® market as being more durable and more feedback resistant.

FA15 Models

The 15 models include two 3/4 size guitars, including the nylon string 15n (hence the ‘n’ in the name. Ideal for children or for use as an inexpensive travel guitar.

Fender FA-15N 3/4 Scale Nylon String Beginner Acoustic Guitar
Fender FA-15 Steel String 3/4 Scale Acoustic Guitar - Rosewood Fingerboard - With Gig Bag
Fender FA-15N 3/4 Scale Nylon String Beginner Acoustic Guitar
Fender FA-15 Steel String 3/4 Scale Acoustic Guitar - Rosewood Fingerboard - With Gig Bag
$149.99
Price not available
Fender FA-15N 3/4 Scale Nylon String Beginner Acoustic Guitar
Fender FA-15N 3/4 Scale Nylon String Beginner Acoustic Guitar
$149.99
Fender FA-15 Steel String 3/4 Scale Acoustic Guitar - Rosewood Fingerboard - With Gig Bag
Fender FA-15 Steel String 3/4 Scale Acoustic Guitar - Rosewood Fingerboard - With Gig Bag
Price not available

Guitars in this range include the:

  • FA-15N 3/4 Nylon
  • FA-15 3/4 steel

Specs: FA15

Body
Top (Soundboard) Agathis (laminate)
Back and Sides Sapele (laminate)
Finish Gloss poly
Binding 1 ply black
Rosette Concentric rings
* wood mosiac on the 15N
Pickguard NA
Bridge Pins Black plastic (white dots)

*NA on 15N model (nylon string guitars don’t require bridge pins)

Bracing X bracing
Neck
Neck Nato
Headstock 3 a side traditional
*Slotted headstock on 15N model
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Neck Binding 1 ply black
Frets 18
Scale Length 23.3″ (592 mm)
Fretboard Radius 11.81″ (300 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Synthetic Bone
Inlays White plastic dot
Tuners Die-cast (sealed back)

*Open-Gear with Pearloid Buttons on 15n model

Electronics
NA

The 100

The more affordable and aptly named 100 models feature laminate soundboards and traditional dot inlays.

Fender FA-125 Dreadnaught - Maple Fingerboard - Walnut Fingerboard - with Case
Fender FA-125CE Dreadnought 6-String Acoustic Guitar, 20 Frets, Set Neck, Walnut Fingerboard, Gloss, Natural
Fender FA-125 Dreadnaught - Maple Fingerboard - Walnut Fingerboard - with Case
Fender FA-125CE Dreadnought 6-String Acoustic Guitar, 20 Frets, Set Neck, Walnut Fingerboard, Gloss, Natural
Fender FA-125 Dreadnaught - Maple Fingerboard - Walnut Fingerboard - with Case
Fender FA-125 Dreadnaught - Maple Fingerboard - Walnut Fingerboard - with Case
Fender FA-125CE Dreadnought 6-String Acoustic Guitar, 20 Frets, Set Neck, Walnut Fingerboard, Gloss, Natural
Fender FA-125CE Dreadnought 6-String Acoustic Guitar, 20 Frets, Set Neck, Walnut Fingerboard, Gloss, Natural

Guitars in this range include the:

  • FA-125 Dreadnought
  • Walnut, FA-125CE Dreadnought, Walnut Fingerboard

Specs: 100 

Body
Top (Soundboard) Spruce (laminate)
Back and Sides Basswood (laminate)
Finish Gloss
Binding 1 ply black
Rosette Concentric rings
Pickguard 1 ply black
Bridge Pins White plastic (black dots)
Bracing X bracing
Neck
Neck Nato
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Neck Binding 1 ply black
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
Fretboard Radius 11.81″ (300 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Synthetic Bone
Inlays White plastic dot
Tuners Die-cast (sealed back)
Electronics
NA

The 200 series

The 200 models feature flame maple tops and decorative inlays, which look beautiful. The 200 also includes lacewood back and sides, laminate flame maple soundboard and Nato neck.

Fender FA-235E Concert Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Moonlight Burst
Fender FA-235E Concert Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Moonlight Burst
Fender FA-235E Concert Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Moonlight Burst
Fender FA-235E Concert Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Moonlight Burst

Guitars in this range include the:

  • FA-235E Concert

Specs: 200 

Body
Top (Soundboard) Flame Maple (Laminate)
Back and Sides Mahogany (Laminate)
Finish Gloss
Binding Aged white
Rosette Keystone design
Pickguard 1 ply black
Bridge Pins White plastic (black dots)
Bracing X bracing
Neck
Neck Nato
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Indian Laurel
Neck Binding Aged white
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® TUSQ®
Inlays Perloid (keystone design)
Tuners Open geared
Electronics
Fishman® Electronics (volume, bass, treble)

The 300

Along with the updated features of the 200 models, the 300 also include tortoise shell binding, which combined with the flame maple top looks fantastic.

Fender FA-345CE Auditorium Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender FA-345CE Auditorium Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender FA-345CE Auditorium Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Natural
Fender FA-345CE Auditorium Bodied Acoustic Guitar - Natural

Guitars in this range include the:

  • FA-345CE Auditorium

Specs: 300 

Body
Top (Soundboard) Flame Maple (Laminate)
Back and Sides Mahogany (Laminate)
Finish Gloss
Binding Aged white
Rosette Keystone design
Pickguard 1 ply black
Bridge Pins White plastic (black dots)
Bracing X bracing
Neck
Neck Nato
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Indian Laurel
Neck Binding Aged white
Frets 20
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® TUSQ®
Inlays Perloid (keystone design)
Tuners Open geared
Electronics
Fishman® Electronics (volume, bass, treble)

Are they any good? 

Average rating: 4.66 stars

Considering the price of the guitars within this series, the Fender® Alternative series delivers for the most part and are well priced for the beginner market. With prices ranging from $149.99 for the FA-15N 3/4 Nylon, up to $439.99 for the FA-345CE Auditorium.

 

FA-15N 3/4 Nylon

  • Amazon: 5
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 5

FA-15 3/4 Steel

  • Amazon: 4.7
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.7

FA-125 Dreadnought, Walnut

  • Amazon: 4.5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.83

FA-125CE Dreadnought, Walnut Fingerboard

  • Amazon: 4.4
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.6

FA-235E Concert

  • Amazon: 4.3
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.4

FA-345CE Auditorium

  • Amazon: 4.4
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: NA
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 4.45

The Artist Design Series

The Artist Design series

The artist design series, as the name implies, represents the collaborative design process between Fender® and artists such as Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Alkaline Trio (Chicago Punk Band).

The guitars themselves are released in limited numbers and as you might imagine, are unique and imaginatively designed featuring limited-edition bold colors and finishes, custom inlays and gold hardware.

The models included in the Artist Design Series include:

  • Tim Armstrong Anniversary Hellcat (including 12 string and LH models)
  • Alkaline Trio Malibu™

Tim Armstrong Anniversary Hellcat

Tim Armstrong (Founder and Frontman for Rancid), so the word goes, does most of his writing on his 60s concert size Fender® acoustic guitar.

Fender® and Tim Armstrong collaborated and came up with the Tim Armstrong Hellcat, a distinctively cool retro looking acoustic guitar that features a couple of nice signature touches including custom ‘hellcat’ style inlays and gold hardware, but otherwise gives every indication of being more a work-horse than a show pony.

The Tim Armstrong Hellcat Series includes three guitars, a standard 6 string, 12 string and left-handed model (Tim Armstrong is left-handed after all).

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic Guitar, Natural
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic Guitar, Natural
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic Guitar, Natural
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic Guitar, Natural

Specs: Tim Armstrong Anniversary Hellcat

Body
Top (Soundboard) Solid Spruce
Back and Sides Mahogany (Laminate)
Finish Gloss
Binding Aged white
Rosette F style
Pickguard 3 ply gold
Bridge Pins White
Neck
Neck Maple
Headstock 3 a side traditional
Neck Shape C
Neck Finish Gloss
Fretboard Walnut
Neck Binding Aged white
Frets 19
Scale Length 25.3″ (643 mm)
Fretboard Radius 11.81″ (300 mm)
Nut Width 1.69″ (43 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® TUSQ®
Inlays Skulls, and Hellcat design
Tuners White plastic (vintage style)
Electronics
Fishman® Isys™ III pickup system (volume, EQ, tuner)

Alkaline Trio Malibu™

We’ve already met the Malibu in the California series. The Alkaline Trio Malibu is an all Mahogany signature version of the same guitar, that thanks to the distinctive heart shaped soundhole and rosette, is a guitar that’s difficult to miss.

Table could not be displayed.

Specs: Alkaline Trio Malibu™

Body
Top (Soundboard) Mahogany (Laminate)
Back and Sides Mahogany (Laminate)
Finish Gloss (poly)
Rosette Signature Alkaline Trio silver heart
Pickguard NA
Bridge Pins White (black dots)
Neck
Neck Maple
Headstock Stratocaster® style 6 in line
Neck Shape Vintage C
Neck Finish Gloss Urethane
Fretboard Walnut
Neck Binding white
Frets 20
Scale Length 24.75″ (629 mm)
Fretboard Radius 7.25″ (300 mm)
Nut Width 1.625″ (41.3 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® TUSQ®
Inlays Perloid
Tuners White plastic (vintage style)
Electronics
NA

Are they any good? 

Average rating: 4.773 stars

The Tim Armstrong Hellcat (along with the Gretsch Jim Dandy) has long been one of those inexpensive acoustic guitars that, perhaps lacked some of the refinement and finishing touches of its more expensive counterparts but punched well above its weight, making it good value for its sub $500 price. The Alkaline Trio, will appeal to some, and not to others but overall has been well received and seems good value at under $300.

Tim Armstrong Hellcat

  • Amazon: 4
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: 5
  • Reverb.com: 4.8

Avg rating: 4.76

Tim Armstrong Anniversary Hellcat

  • Amazon: NA
  • Sweetwater: NA
  • Guitar Center: 5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: NA

Avg rating: 5
* Tim Armstrong Anniversary Hellcat was only announced two months prior to this article being written.

Alkaline Trio Malibu™

  • Amazon: 4.2
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 0

Avg rating: 4.56

The American Acoustasonic series

The American Acoustasonic series

Lastly, we come to the American Acoustasonic Series, which, is perhaps the most radical departure from traditional acoustic guitar design seen yet.

This is the first production acoustic guitar Fender® has built in the USA for almost 50 years and is priced accordingly, starting at more or less the $2000 mark.

Another newcomer to the Fender® lineup, Fender® first showed the world the Acoustasonic Telecaster® in 2019 at Winter NAMM. And, while it’s raised more than a few eyebrows since then, most reviews, it has to be said, have been favorable, but the fact that you tend not to see a lot of them may be a sign of their popularity, or lack thereof.

The guitar’s themselves have several interesting features including a noiseless mounted bridge pickup and bolt on 22 fret neck with tapered heel and ebony fretboard.

But the real heart of the Acoustasonic series is the Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS), which Fender® have developed exclusively for the Acoustasonic.

The Stringed Instrument Resonance System or SIRS, regulates the air flow into the internal chamber of the guitar which is said to aid resonance and give the guitar greater resonance and dynamics.

The American Acoustasonic Series includes both Telecaster® and Stratocaster® options including the following models:

  • American Acoustasonic® Stratocaster® Ziricote
  • American Acoustasonic® Stratocaster®
  • American Acoustasonic® Telecaster® (including left-handed option)
  • American Acoustasonic® Stratocaster® Cocobolo

American Acoustasonic® Stratocaster®

Released in March 2020, as a follow-up to the Acoustisonic® Telecaster®. The Acoustasonic Stratocaster®, possibly benefiting from its support act has for the most part been well-received and positively reviewed. Though, more or less relying on the same feature set and tech that paved the way for the Tele version.

Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster Black w/Premium Gig Bag
Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster Black w/Premium Gig Bag
Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster Black w/Premium Gig Bag
Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster Black w/Premium Gig Bag

Specs: American Acoustasonic® Stratocaster®

Body
Top (Soundboard) Mahogany
*Black Limba on Ziricote model.
*White Limba on Cocobolo model.
Back and Sides Solid Sitka Spruce
*Ziricote on Ziricote model.
*Cocobolo on Cocobolo model.
Finish Satin (matte)
Rosette 2 ring (black/white)
Pickguard NA
Bridge Pins GraphTech Tusq®
Bracing Transverse (Usually refers to a single brace that is closer to the neck joint and adds greater stability primarily to this area).
Neck
Neck Mahogany
*Black Limba on Ziricote model.
*White Limba on Cocobolo model.
Headstock Stratocaster® style 6 in line
Neck Shape Modern C
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Ebony
Neck Binding NA
Frets 22
Scale Length 25.5″ (648 mm)
Fretboard Radius 12″ (305 mm)
Nut Width 1.6875″ (42.86 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® TUSQ®
Inlays Plastic (white)
* none on both Ziricote and Cocobolo models.
Tuners Fender® Standard Cast
Electronics
Piezo under-saddle bridge pickup. N4 magnetic bridge pickup and internal body sensor pickup. 5 way selector switch.

American Acoustasonic® Telecaster®

The original Acoustisonic, initially released in March 2019. The first American made Fender® acoustic guitar in 50 years, while a very different guitar to the original 1963 models, the Acoustisonics share much of the same sentiment, caring little for tradition, preferring to break new ground.

Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster Sunburst w/Premium Gig Bag
Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster Sunburst w/Premium Gig Bag
Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster Sunburst w/Premium Gig Bag
Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster Sunburst w/Premium Gig Bag

Specs: American Acoustasonic® Telecaster®

Body
Top (Soundboard) Mahogany
Back and Sides Solid Sitka Spruce
Finish Satin (matte)
Rosette 2 ring (black/white)
Pickguard NA
Bridge Pins GraphTech Tusq®
Bracing Transverse
Neck
Neck Mahogany
Headstock Stratocaster® style 6 in line
Neck Shape Modern C
Neck Finish Satin Urethane
Fretboard Ebony
Neck Binding NA
Frets 22
Scale Length 25.5″ (648 mm)
Fretboard Radius 12″ (305 mm)
Nut Width 1.6875″ (42.86 mm)
Nut Material Graph Tech® TUSQ®
Inlays Plastic (white)
* none on both Ziricote and Cocobolo models.
Tuners Fender® Standard Cast
Electronics
Piezo under-saddle bridge pickup. N4 magnetic bridge pickup and internal body sensor pickup. 5 way selector switch.

Are they any good? 

Average rating: 4.695 stars

The Acoustisonic series has been well-received by critics, including several high-profile reviews, including guitarworld.com and premierguitar.com.

They’re not cheap, starting at just under $2000 but for an American made Fender® that includes a number of innovative features including the Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS) for the most part they represent good value and have been well-received.

American Acoustasonic® Telecaster®

  • Amazon: 4.4
  • Sweetwater: 4.5
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 4.7

Avg rating: 4.52

American Acoustasonic® Stratocaster®

  • Amazon: 5
  • Sweetwater: 5
  • Guitar Center: 4.5
  • Musicians Friend: NA
  • Reverb.com: 5

Avg rating: 4.87

Final Thoughts

After taking a look at where Fender® began with regard to the acoustic guitar and a preview of where things are headed with the Acoustisonic series® it seems fairly apparent that Fender® will continue to look for new ways to approach acoustic guitar design.

At the same time with a high volume number of guitars dedicated to the beginner marker including the FA and CD series, manufacturing good value, affordable yet highly playable acoustic guitars will also continue to take up a large part of Fenders® acoustic line up.

So, with all things considered are Fender® acoustic guitars any good? For what it’s worth, for a beginner on a budget a Fender® acoustic guitar is a great option, and considering the large range there realistically is something for everyone.

For the more experienced guitarist, or those looking for something a little different, there are several models worth a look including the California series and the Artist design series, but one gets the impression guitarists will mostly love/hate the higher end Fender® acoustic guitars, so definitely try before you buy.

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