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MGR/A Musician/ music enthusist from Ojai, CA USA 11/27/2003

Fender Lead II : MGR/A Musician/ music enthusist from Ojai, CA USA's user review

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My son's father bought one of these in the 1970's - I'm not sure for how much, but it was around $300 to$400 back then apparently from a friend, or used from a music store, but in excellent shape - mint condition. Almost a year after he passed away, my son wanted a guitar. I walked into a music store, and while I was looking for something for him to start on, I ran across the same guitar his father owned, that was on the wall. The salesman was trying to puch a Peavy guitar, and tried to use differnt amp settings to show me how great this Peavy guitar was. The Peavy was "twangy" on th same settings, and at the time I thought the Fender Lead II was one that just looked like his dad's. I decided to buy the used Fender, as the sound quality was far superior to the Peavy, and although it costs significantly more, I was impressed that much more with the sound quality, and bought it from a store that sold used and new music equipment of all sorts. Later on we discovered it WAS my son's father's old guitar. Apparently he was meant to have it. I found some distinctive marks (although most people wouldn't even have noticed them, I knew, as I was the lead singer for the group, and we had a child together. This was an awesome expereince, and we'll NEVER sell this guitar!) The sound was already great, and I think I paid about $1200 about 9 years ago for it (the music store was selling it on consignment, so I think I got a pretty good deal. Although there were other Fender Lead IIs out there for less[some even as low as $300-400, but were pretty thrashed], they were not in near the great condition this one was in. His dad always had taken incredibly good care of it, as he didn't have a lot of money, and it was his only source on income, other than odd jobs, at the time. Obviously whoever bought it from his mom also took extremely great care of it, or simply never played it?)

The Fender Lead II's sound is a rich, and has a lot of depth to it. Compared to other guitars on the same setting on a variety of amps, the others have a higher and some have a twangy sound - not condusive for someone serious about guitar sound. While price-wise it may not be a great beginner guitar, it is an easy guitar to play. The neck is curved (longways on top slightly), as is the nut, so one can play for hours & hours without getting marks on one's hands from a squared-off neck (on top) which causes fatigue, and is simply uncomfortable - especially after playing for a while. The sound is awesome, and there are few electric guitars, to this day, which can match the sound, without spending thousands.

This is truly an instrument for the serious guitar player, or at least one who has an ear for, and appreciates the incredible depth of sound.

If you play it by itself, you might not notice the difference, unless you play it for a while, or better yet, play it on the same amp as other guitars (and change amps as well and do the same), with the same settings for comparison, but different settings as well with both the Fender Lead II and whatever else you are looking at in the way of guitars.

This is an awesome guitar with sound rivaling the best in the business (and the most expensive!)

Shop around, and if you are lucky enough to find anyone selling a Fender Lead II in good condition, it is definitely worth investing the extra money (which may seem like a lot, but it's worth every penny!)

I suspect also that the value of these guitars, which BTW are no longer made, will only go up!

The ONLY thing I don't like about this guitar is that in order to replace a broken nut, which it took about 25 years of playing hard rock to do!!!, one has to find either a flexible nut (I think they are nylon originally?) that actually fits this guitar or have one made from bone, and professionally curved to the nut slot, as it is not flat (unless it has been altered, which I STRONGLY DO NOT RECCOMMEND!) Altering (or gouging out the wood in the neck where the nut goes) can affect the play of the guitar significantly, and damage the neck of the guitar altogether. If you see one for sale like this, I'd be leary of buying it. I have seen one, and flattening out the back of the nut just to get something in there to fit makes it sound a little different, and not quite as good... I'm not sure exactly why, but I would NEVER alter one of these guitars! Either find the right sized flexible nut (and buy several and keep them in your case) or have a PROFESSIONAL grind a bone nut for you. Check credentials, and be sure it is done right by someone who knows what they are doing!

I had 3 ground for my son's guitar, none of which were done corerctly, until I finally found a guy that knew what he was doing, and recommended the vinyl-plastic flexible nut anyhow, and had them in stock.

The bone nuts are much more durable (but then again the first plastic one lasted about 25 years!) however they DO change the sound a bit, which I find undesirable.

I don't know a whole lot about construction, other than to say that it is solid hardwood, has two pick-ups, a tone and volume control on the deck, and some have "Whamy bars", others do not. These can be removed without altering the guitar, and unless you use one, you might want to remove it, but keep it around in case some day you decide to change your mind, or if you decide to sell it. As with many guitars with "Whamy bars" or the equivelant, it can have you retuning your guitar a lot, however, if you get a heavier weight string, you'll not be disappointed, and will be tuning your guitar a lot less. I do NOT reccommend light weight strings with a "Whammy Bar", so before you decide to take one off, try some heavier strings!


This is an extremely well-made guitar of solid wood contruction with an incredible rich sound, and even for a beginner that is serious, to those who are out on gigs nightly, it is one of the best guitars I've ever listened to. Definitely recording quality (AND not only has been used by many artists, is better tha many of the other electric guitars I hear on the radio these days.)

If you can find one in good condition and can at all afford it, BUY IT! It will be a great investment, and wil serve one for a lifetime, as long as you take care of it!

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com