Hardware: All chrome, vintage-style tuners and bridge.
Strings: Came with Fender .10s, changed to DR .12s.
My Set-up: I use whatever small combo amp is handy with all knobs to 10 (except for the treble, which I back down a bit). I adjust the guitar to have the tone knob at 70% and the volume at 85%, giving me tons of headroom.
My profile: Eclectic guitarist from Southwestern Pennsylvania specializing in jazz, rockabilly, swing, classic country, alt-country, and punk/new wave.
This guitar was purchased for me as a gift from my girlfriend. Because it was a gift, I did not ask the purchase price, but I do remember it being listed at around $800.00 while I stared lovingly at it in the guitar shop.
List price is $1199.99 and most online retailers seem to offer about 25% off.
First and foremost, the tone is killer. Through practically any amp I can replicate the exact range of sounds I need -- thick, jazzy chords to super-skinny twang. The combination of the ash body and the old-school lacquer really allow the tone of this guitar to shine.
Another pro is the hardware. This guitar stays in tune despite my best efforts to manhandle the strings into unhappy positions. The tone and volume pots are smooth and quiet, a real benefit for someone who makes constant adjustments during play.
My feelings about the 'road worn' aspect are mixed. While I love the way the tone and feel of the guitar are changed by distressing the instrument, I believe some of the dings and dents are simply cosmetic and add little more than an aesthetic.
The single coil pickups can be a bit tough to reign in, but that is to be expected from anything that is known to not 'buck the hum.'
This is a fantastic guitar. Well built, fine components, solid and sleek. As mentioned above, it stays in tune like a champ and I've had no issues with any of the hardware despite my near constant fiddling.
Certainly the quality may be diminished for those who dislike the road worn look. Many complaints are made -- both online and in local shops -- about why you 'don't buy shoes with holes in the sole' and other comparisons. My simple reply is that these holes add to the tone and playabilty -- more or less.
This is my new go-to guitar. Period. It feels great and it sounds even better. I am biased because it has sentimental value (it was a gift), but you can't argue with the tone.
Bottom Line: A solid addition to my collection and a new workhorse for gigging.
The Fender Road Worn '50s Stratocaster is a classic looking model that is built in Mexico at the sub $1,000 price point. It's meant to offer a "vintage" guitar to players that otherwise couldn't afford the real thing, or even one of the pricey Custom Shop reissues. This one features an alder body, a maple neck with 21 vintage style frets, old style tuners, a 6 screw fulcrum point tremolo and a trio of Fender Tex Mex pickups wired to the traditional compliment of volume, dual tones and a 5 way pickup selector. It's also been "reliced" head to toe on the body, neck, bridge, tuners, etc. The result is an instrument that you won't have to worry about getting a few dings on when you take it out for a jam.
The design of this guitar is fairly ergonomic. I found this model to be nice and light - a surefire good sign. The alder body is well finished as far as the shaping and contours go, and the maple neck has a nice profile that feels very comfortable and natural. The relicing on the guitar looks pretty awful, but it does feel quite nice, especially on the neck. I do like it quite a bit for that reason alone... the neck is definitely a selling point here. The upper fret access is good considering that it's an unmodified Strat design and only has 21 frets. Getting a good sound out of this guitar is easy enough. It's just like a '50s Strat but it's got the slightly hotter pickups and a 5 way switch which does allow for some more tonal options to be had for sure.
The tones out of this guitar are pretty pure Strat to my ears. The pickups do have that classic Fender jangle to them and they work equally well for blues, country, rock or shred to me. Put through a good clean amplifier, the guitar ranges from very low end centric and rich (using the neck pickup) through to very bright and biting (using the bridge pickup). The in between pickup tones are great as well and between all 5 positions the frequency spectrum is covered quite nicely. Switching to a drive sound yields some some fantastically thick and crunchy tones that work for everything from Hendrix to Eric Johnson to Yngwie, depending on the amp and effects being used.
All in all I think the Fender Road Worn '50 Strat is a great deal for someone who needs a vintage feeling and sounding guitar at a price that won't break the bank. The relicing itself looks pretty cheap to me, but it does feel nice when you're playing it. If they made this guitar without relicing, I bet it'd be a surefire winner. Definitely have a look if you're in the market for a classic looking and feeling Strat that WON'T require a second (or third) mortgage on your home!
The Fender Road Worn '50s Telecaster came about from Fender after people kept mentioning how they loved the worn in feel of vintage or Custom Shop instruments but couldn't afford the $2,000+ price tags of the CS stuff, or the $10,000+ price tags that vintage Fenders command. This model is a relic that is based off a '50s Telecaster and is built in Mexico. It features an ash body with relicing in the nitro finish, a maple neck with 21 vintage style frets and relicing of the tinted amber finish, vintage style tuners and Telecaster bridge with 3 barrel style saddles. Electronically this guitar is loaded with 2 Fender Texas Special pickups wired to a typical Tele control setup of a volume, a tone, and a pickup selector.
The design of this guitar is pretty ergonomic, for a Tele anyway. The weight is medium and the feel of the guitar is quite natural. The relicing of the finish, though it honestly looks cheap and contrived as anything actually feels fairly good, especially on the back of the neck. The upper fret access is decent as well, though again being a single cutaway 4 bolt neck the access is blocked off a bit. Getting a good sound out of this guitar is pretty easy. The stock Fender pickups have a nice range of tones available and take to both clean and distorted tones pretty well. The neck pickup is great for jazzier tones and the bright bridge pickup is ideal for rippin' country or rock licks.
This guitar sounds like you would expect a Tele to sound like - bold, bright and brash. It's not a very apologetic guitar, but it does sound pretty cool. The neck pickup has a nice low end heft to it that works very well with a clean amplifier for jazzier or some vintage blues tones, or with a distorted amp for some really sludgy rock tones. Switching to the middle position is great for funk or really nasally sound rock tones, and the bridge position is king for country, blues, rock or even some out of this world shredding. It can get a little noisy with gain applied, but that's to be expected with true single coils. The ash body with the maple neck combo gives a nice brightness that is personally my favourite attribute in a Tele's tone.
All in all I think the Fender Road Worn '50s Telecaster is a great buy for someone who is looking for a wonderful feeling and great sounding vintage type Tele for under $1000. The relicing is honestly not great - it's the EXACT same on every guitar and tends to look cheap, but the feel of the guitar is excellent. If Fender offered this model in a NOS model like their Custom Shop guitars and the relicing was an option, I bet they'd sell a TONNE of them.
Fenders reliced guitars have been growing in popularity since they were introduced a few years ago. Now Fender has a line of reliced guitars that are not made in their Custom Shop so it is affordable to normal players. I have seen these guitars for sale for around 800 dollars and they look just as good as the Custom Shop relic guitars. What really struck me about this guitar is how much relicing they did to the fretboard. It is a lot more apparent on the Telecaster models than the Stratocaster models. The blonde body is nicely faded and dinged up like you would expect. The back of the neck feels different in areas. Between the 1st and 9th fret is super smooth with nearly all the finish worn off but beyond that you can still feel the clearcoat. The body on this blonde one is made out of ash and has a very thin nitro finish. The neck is 1 piece maple with 21 Dunlop 6105 frets. These are true jumbo frets. It has a vintage style bridge with the 3 saddles which gives big tone but iffy intonation. The pickguard is a 1 ply white piece containing 2 Tex Mex pickups.
Apart from the looks what sets these guitars apart from normal guitars is the playability. With the worn in finish you get a super smooth neck where you want it. In the places you are playing 80 percent of the time the neck is super worn in and smooth. The places were your body touches the guitar are all worn down and smooth so they feel good against you. Fender puts some of the biggest frets on their relic guitars. I wish they put these frets on all their guitars. The super big frets make up for the vintage 7 inch radius. You can still bend since the frets are so big even with the super round fretboard. I am not a huge fan of the ashtray bridge but a tele is a tele and its part of the tone. The 3 saddles arent the best for intonation but they give you the big tele tone.
Plugged in this guitar sounds pretty much like a typical Telecaster with tex mex pickups. It has all the twang and honk you would expect from a tele with the ash tray bridge. Some people say that these relic guitars sound better. The neck pickup is nice and fat and great for blues solos while the bridge pickup is super twangy in the low and and loves your country riffs. They say that the thinner more worn in finish lets the guitar breath better but im not so sure. I think the main differents with these guitars other than looks is the playability, and when a guitar plays well you probably play better than think it sounds better in the process.
Some people dont like relic guitars and say you should just play a guitar a lot and do it yourself. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but if these guitars were not popular Fender wouldnt be making and selling them. Looks aside these guitars are some of the best playing guitars out there since a lot of the things used to make a guitar look good also hurt playability. Thin finishes and satin smooth necks play well along with looking aged. Now you can get a great reliced guitar for less than 1000 dollars. Its harder to justify paying for a full Custom Shop guitar now when you can get a guitar just as good for 1/4 the price.