Prodigy review by Fender

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 7.7 (86 votes)
Fender: Prodigy

Purchased from: Friend

Sound — 10
I play a lot of styles, although I have like both extremes of slower, clean licks with a sad sound to them and violent distorted riffs. The EM-81 proves superior in both situations, it gives great distortion and a crystal-clear, ringing clean. I'm using it with a Marshall MG 30DFX and it sounds awesome. I own a Boss MT-2, and although the overdrive channel on the amp is usually enough for me, it sounds good through the stomp box, too. It has moderate noise on the 81, but not so much that it's bothersome. It has a bright tone when unplugged, and through in amp it's capable of almost any tone, with the pickups and tone configuration. The steel-coils are good for punchy, kicky distortion like in Cannibal Corpse or Deicide, and the EM just screams. The only thing I dislike about this guitar is the body; it is extremely thick for the style (almost 2 inches front to back) and therefore very heavy.

Overall Impression — 10
I play rock, metal, soft rock, and Indie music, this leans toward the rock side, but it's good for softer things too. I've been playing since September of '03, and own this guitar, a Hondo strat-copy, a Marshall MG 30 DFX, a franken-amp made of a Silvertone pre/power amp combo and some speaker I found since I blew the original, and a Boss MT-2 Metal Zone effects pedal. The only thing I wish I had done before buying this was inspected the foratboard a bit more closely, but the only flaw is the sprung 15th so I would have bought it anyway. If this were stolen or lost, I would cry, because I've never heard of a Prodigy before this and wouldn't know where to look to find another one. I'd most likely buy an American Fat Strat and modify the hardware and pickups to match this one as best I could. I love the overall tonal versatility; I'm a metal head, but this can play a lot more than metal. I'm not too choosy if it plays well, but I love the tone and the feel of this guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is more or less built like a rock. The body is extremely sturdy and there are no pits or dings in the finish, (although there are scratches,) and the rest of the instrument is well made. It's stock Fender hardware, it will last quite a while. The strap buttons are solid, like everything else. I don't gig, but if I did, I would gladly use this guitar, even without a backup if need be.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Factory settings don't apply, but it was well-set when I got it. Same goes for pickups. The guitar is solid, all around. The only flaw is a very slightly sprung 15th fret which I will be having repaired soon, but then it is 13 years old and has had no prior work to my knowledge.

Features — 10
This guitar was made in '91 in the USA, although I hear this particular model features parts made in Mexico and assembled in the US. It has 23 frets, which I found odd but oh well. There is one volume and one tone knob, and a 5-way Switch; although how the 5-way interacts with the bridge humbucker and the middle single-coil I'm unsure. For a single tone knob, it is extremely versatile. It has an S/S/H pickup configuration. I believe the two single-coils are stock, but the humbucker has been replaced by an EM-81 active pickup; of the two, I prefer the 81 for it's clean tone, with a good deal of bite. Aside from the bridge pickup, all electronics are passive. I'm unsure of the wood in the body, but it's a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard. The finish, I believe, is either polyurethane or polyester, and is straight black. The body is reminiscent of a Strat, but the cutaway points are a good deal pointier, and it's not totally symmetrical at the bottom end. It has a stock Floyd-Rose trem, with the locking nut and stock Fender tuners. The frets are about medium sized, the neck having a standard 25.5" scale length and a normal string spacing.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is, in my opinion, the best guitar Fender ever made. And the fact it has a limited production makes it even more desirable. If you own one, keep it! Can only imagine what it will be worth in time. As of 2016 a 91 is 25 years old, this makes it a collector. In another five years, wow!
    I got one of this. Anyone interested in buying it, just send me an email for more information? Cheers! David
    (one more...) She resembles a Stratocaster at a glance, but feels like a somewhat different animal. The guitar shop that cleaned the electrics (Gallen's) called it a "strat", that's probably incorrect, but it seemed to be the first time they'd seen one, and one of the guys commented that he "really really liked it" (and sounded like he meant it), so I can easily forgive them for calling her the wrong name!!
    Just need to correct part of the last comment I made, ie the guitar lead does NOT plug in Gibson Les Paul style on my Prodigy, it plugs in next to the tone knob. Goes to show that I don't get it out all that often these days! I was thinking of the lead jack on my Les Paul copy. But it does plug in there, perpendicular to the guitar top, unlike on a Stratocaster, where it goes in on a sharper angle.
    Mine cost $850 about 7 years ago in Sydney Aust, when and where any nice Gibson or '70s Strat or Tele would have cost around $5000, good value i thought, and still do. Mine's a bit more basic than the black one reviewed: the bridge pickup is passive on mine; mine's tremolo unlike a Floyd Rose one only bends downwards, but a note played on the open deep E string gets an exact full octave bend just as the tip of the whammy bar reaches the guitar...its niiiice!! (and i don't recall a strat being able to do anywhere near that); and mine doesn't have, or seem to need, a locking nut. The jack lead goes in not where the volume and tone knobs are, but "around the corner" from there, like a Les Paul and unlike a Strat. The strap clips on to ends that are permanently screwed onto their posts, i don't know if that's standard, but it (like the rest of the guitar) works fine. It's had the electrics cleaned, strings changed occasionally and that's it. If, for a second, you imagine a Jackson style of guitar to have evolved from a Stratocaster, then to me a Prodigy would seem like a "missing link", as it were, part of the way between one and the other. Also, mine has a blonde maple fretboard, and the body is a creamy sort of white colour, with a black scratch plate. I can't imagine ever selling it.
    IHi all, The Prodigy is indeed a great guitar. Versatile and light the Prodigy was developed at a time when CBS had sold Fender to Fender employees. The Prodigy was produced so that Fender could compete with Charvel and Jackson who were producing Strat-like guitars in Japan for less cost using Fender's designs. Fender had failed to patent it's designsbleaving the door open for it's competitors. CBS responded to competition by cutting quality, thereby demoralizing the craftsman at Fender. After buying Fender from CBS, Fender then set out to compete with Charvel and Jackson in an attempt to regain it's market. The Prodigy was designed to do just that and Fender went all out and produced the Prodigy. A six piece body made of Poplar, it's light! 7 Lbs! HSS configuration, five way switch, the 91 has Fender's tremolo system, vintage style bridge and saddles. The 92 came with a Floyd Rose locking nut and I personally like the 91 the best. You can play anything on the 91 while the 92 is a shredder only. There are stories that the Prodigy wasn't entirely made in the U.S. Those stories are false. There were no CDC machines in Ensenada Mexico in 91. Fender never has sent bodies to Mexico for cutting. In 97, Fender did start sending cut bodies to Ensenada for Finishing. They did that with the California series and The Highway One Series. But the Prodigy was produced in the U.S.In 92 Fender decided to buy Charvel and Jackson rather than to compete with itself so they stopped producing the Prodigy. In the 91 you have a guitar that was produced for one year only. A limited number make this guitar collectible. It's not rare as I found on in a pawn shop. But in a few years they will be impossible to find. Strat lover's always pan the Prodigy because they compare it to a Strat. The Prodigy was never intended to replace the Strat, The Prodigy stands alone as guitar and it is a fantastic guitar! I can get it to sound like a Les Paul, a Tele, a Strat anytthing! nI can play rock, jazz, country, anything on a Prodigy. Those boys at Fender!
    you guys overrate this guitar, i had one for many years, it's an ok guitar but NOT a stratocaster. weird thing is to read people say it's their dream to have this guitar, Also, it doesn't cost big money to buy one. I would say today you can have one for less than $500. lol i do not recommend this guitar tho. I think you will have more fun playing with a good strat, or maybe a gibson sg or les paul... whatever.
    By the way, I forgot to include my email in the previous message: thewebmastah [at] gmail [dot] com :O)
    i own one, dont ask me the price though, it was a gift i think its a pretty damn good guitar, great sound, no complaints, and it looks amazing
    i've got the same guitar and it sounds just awesome. the only thing it's that the em-81 that you own isn't stock, coz i've got a passive humbucker on mine,and since it was bought it has never been modified, so i think mine is stock.anyway, this is really a super-guitar, and i realy wouldn't exchange for anything!
    Owned it from 1998/9. Been playing and keeping the guitar since. Replaced the pickups with a pair of gold and silver laces and paf on the bridge. Refretted with vintage frets. Replaced the stock with wilkinson vintage trem. Now it sings beautifully. It's a keeper for me.