Price paid: £ 340
Purchased from: Local Dealer
Sound — 6
It's a mixed bag here, I should say up front despite playing for years I'm no virtuoso and I don't really play any one particular style of music, but I do like my high gain sounds. I use a lot of effects normally, but have put this through its paces with its natural voicing. You get a lot of different sounds out of this, from something approaching a classic humbucker sound (closer to a mini really) Strat middle pickup sound and the HOT Jazzmaster neck. The problem for me is a) the electronics, low quality pots that only do on or off, with little in between b) the triplebucker.. It's to my ears overly bright and cutting, but without the character of a tele bridge. There is the main problem, the primary gimmick of this guitar aside from the unique shape is that pickup and I just don't think it's all that good at anything in particular. I did swap out the pots, installed a treble bleed and a higher quality, higher rated cap and it did really improve things. On the other hand, the Jazzmaster pickup is brilliant, really good unit that delivers a thick meaty sound without the harshness of the bridge pickup. The other problem (for most people) would be the bridge - it's very low quality and is a sustain sucking monster. Points for the number of sounds on tap (more if you changed the switching and added a toggle for the neck p/up) minus points for the quality of many of them.
Overall Impression — 7
I've been playing on and off for years as a hobbyist, but do have a passion for guitars and built a couple. This is one of several guitars I own, the others being a custom Telemaster, SG Classic and Dean Z Explorer, although to be honest I don't think I'll be keeping it long. It's hard to say why but I don't gel with this guitar compared to the others. It's good for the money, unique looking (it looks better in person and on a strap than in pictures). I think if you were willing to take the resale value hit it's a good base for a project - a decent standard humbucker and better hardware would make it a cool axe. It plays well, covers most style of music well enough, but doesn't excel in any one area. Perhaps I'm asking too much from a guitar that doesn't cost the world, but if this were branded a Squier (which it is... really) then it'd sell for 100 less. Lost or stolen? I'd be cheesed off, but I'd go for something else as a replacement.
Reliability & Durability — 8
No reason to believe this guitar would be unreliable in the slightest, although if I were gigging it I'd definitely stick some locking tuners on and swap the bridge. The paint job is thick and isn't going to damage easily. It's a well balanced guitar unlikely to neck dive and is light weight so won't bust your shoulders. Hardware is generally robust, strap buttons fine. Guitar comes without a bag or case, so you'd need to sort that out. Wouldn't gig without a backup, but wouldn't expect problems from this one, or any half decent modern guitar to be honest.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The made in China thing will put people off, but build quality is actually very high, where it's lacking is actually in component quality. The finish is great, lake placid blue is gorgeous and changes depending on the light you view it in, there were no loose screws or bad connections/dodgy pots - even if they are low quality mini pots. It came with a high action to hide the fact that the bridge is *stupid* low quality stamped unit with grub screws that when you drop the action dig into your hands. It's the first thing I replaced for a proper Wilkinson trem with cast steel saddles and heavy duty sustain block. My Marauder was very well put together, frets well dressed, nut is well cut, everything very tidy. One thing I've noticed on this model more than other guitars I've owned is I find it easy to "ping" the high and low E strings off the fretboard edge when hammering on, partly my bad technique partly slightly off spacing? Perhaps not a problem for everyone. The machineheads aren't great and one came a bit loose but was easily fixed. Build quality would be an 8 or 9, parts quality (even considering the price) is a 5 or 6.
Features — 9
2011 Fender Modern Player Marauder. Made in China, probably in the same factory as the better quality Squier models. Rosewood board, modern fairly thin fast neck, funny looking low quality nut, modern not too high, not too fat frets. No name split post tuners. Wacky wood nobody has heard of body in a kind of squashed Mustang shape with pearloid plate and Jazz Bass-ish control plate with HOT Jazzmaster neck pickup and Fender exclusive triplebucker (effectively three small blade single coils) five way switching, volume, tone. Vintage style trem with screw in arm. A good range of features, it's nothing if not versatile.