Road Worn 50's Stratocaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (18 votes)
Fender: Road Worn 50's Stratocaster
2

Price paid: $ 899

Sound — 7
Sound, generally the most important thing for a guitarist. Great tone leads to great joy. Well, to say the least this time around I had great tone and I had horrible tone. This is a guitar with two faces. It is a guitar that is manufactured in the 2000's but is replicated and aged to make it look like it is from the era of the 1950's. Well not only did Fender do a great job in creating the look and feel of the 1950's; they did a fantastic job in creating the sound. After having played several Fender Stratocasters from the era this guitar aims to replicate, I was extremely impressed with the overall feel and tone of this guitar. This guitar is equipped with Tex-Mex single coils that really give it the old twang of a Stratocaster from the 1950's. While playing this guitar I was plugged into a Fender Blues Jr. I had everything set to 5 as I wanted to be able to get the truest sound from the guitar. I wanted to see how it could perform in a clean manner and also how it would react on the edge of breakup. With this type of a guitar there is absolutely no need to try and play metal as it will simply completely fail at covering it. Think to yourself the type of music that was around in the 1950's and early 1960's, Rhythm and Blues, Country and Western, Early pop rock. This guitar covers those sounds to a tee, anything else, well I am not quite sure how many bone crushing overdrives you can put on in front of the amp to achieve 1980's arena rock with this axe. All joking aside Fender did a wonderful job recreating the tonal characteristics of the era. You start playing this guitar and begin thinking to yourself, wow; I could totally be a guitarist playing the music in a song by The Temptations', or working as a session musician in Nashville, TN. As stated earlier, this is a guitar of two faces. It is something that was made today that is meant to emulate something of yesteryear. For that, we applaud you Fender for restoring yourself to your roots, digging up the tones your first model Stratocasters produced, and making it play like it did back in those days. But now in today's era of music, bands and musicians have multiple influences that come across in their playing. When I think of modern day guitarists I think of versatility. Everyone is channeling the sounds from multiple genres. That is why this guitar on a level of sound is a one trick pony. That pony though is one hell of a ride. It consistently produces exactly what it should every time. It will not however cover all spectrums of music over the last 60 years. Guitarists who buy this guitar should know what they are buying, and they probably do. It is tailored to people with a specific taste, who are trying to achieve a specific sound, and who want their guitar to look like it is 50 years old.

Overall Impression — 8
As you have read, this is a one trick pony that gives you one hell of a ride. The Road Worn series, up until about a month ago had a lot of swagger to them. Now however, to my chagrin, they are coming out with the Road Worn Players Series. In my humble opinion, amazingly ugly guitars. Yes there is an option for HSS Stratocasters but with a silver body and black pick guard it just makes me lose my lunch. I see no reason why colors that were not around back in the day would be road worn. That is just my opinion but I do understand that music is a business. There is a reason I am not the CEO of Fender or Gibson or Marshall etcetera. It is because I would only release Vintage gear, no robot guitar, no players series strat, no mode four. But that is me, I am old school. This guitar fits my playing well but at the same time it doesn't. For instance, when testing it out I was playing the guitar solo to Pink Floyd's Money.' Well there is a part in the solo, the way I play it, where there is a big bend at the 22nd fret. Well I am playing along and I am easily a step off, what the hell? Oh, it's because this only has 21 frets. This is great at some things and not so great at others, does it suit your style of music or not? Before all the hate talk starts about this being a Made in Mexico guitar, such as: why the hell is it $899 USD, why would you like it, it is way too overpriced, just buy a normal MIM instead. Let me tell you something that is fantastic. This is a guitar that is assembled in Mexico using American Made parts. Secondly there is a 70 mile difference between Corona, California (Fender American Factory, Custom Shop, etc) and the Mexican border. To be honest this is very well put together guitar. It rivals many American made Stratocasters. You cannot compare the playability because out of the box an American Standard Strat and the Road Series 1950's are set up to play completely different. The bottom line is if you want this sound without having to pay $25,000+ for an original 1950's Stratocaster, this is an extremely cheap alternative. I guarantee you that you will have people commenting on the finish and look of it. It is very clean in the way it is done. This guitar will last you as long as the difference from the decade it was designed to emulate. Enjoy the tone and happy picking'.

Reliability & Durability — 9
It is a Fender at the end of the day. I have heard nothing but positive feedback in terms of reliability. Although I cannot directly speak of reliability on this Fender product I have a best friend who owns one in the Road Worn series and is consistently impressed with how well it stands up to consistent gigging. In all honesty I see no issues with these guitars.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
If you like guitars that have undergone relicing you will love this one by Fender. I myself have a 2007 Olympic White / Maple Fretboard Stratocaster that I have and continue to relic. For those of you who have ever dabbled in to the relicing process you know that it is extremely time consuming. For all of us with new guitars who have wanted to relic there is a monumental aspect of the guitar that prevents this in every way possible. It is called polyurethane. It is the devil when it comes to relicing a guitar. Polyurethane is great for guitars these days because it protects them, is extremely durable, and can be UV resistant. The problem is the Fender guitars of the 50's, 60's, and 70's used nitrocellulose. Nitrocellulose was something that deteriorated much easier than the polyurethane which is used today. Now what Fender did on the Road Worn series will hopefully blow your mindthey sprayed the guitars in Nitrocellulose! To me this is one of the best things that Fender did on the Road Worn, not only did they get the body looking like it was old; they also sprayed it with Nitro. This is great because as an owner of this guitar you still start putting wear on it yourself and over time you will actually be able to tell where you have worn it. The wear marks that come from the factory look great, the wear on the neck looks fantastic, the wear on the back of the neck is minute and perfect. It is where it should be and has the randomization aspect to it. All the chrome parts have been dulled as if they have been oxidized after years of use. When you really take a good look at this guitar you realize the attention to detail was fantastic. If you like bright new shiny guitars with no dings, shiny chrome hardware and looking like it came just out of the box then DO NOT BUY THIS. If you want something that has the swagger of 50 years of being played, then pick this up and strut your stuff.

Features — 8
The Fender Road Worn '50s Stratocaster has aged looks, feel, and sound. The '50s Road Worn Strat was designed using 1950s specs and has three Tex-Mex pickups and 6105 frets. Specs of this guitar are: Body: alder Finish: nitrocellulose lacquer Neck: maple Neck profile: soft "V" shape Fretboard: maple Fretboard radius: 7-1/4" Frets: 21 (6105 style) Scale length: 25-1/2" Nut width: 1.650" Hardware: chrome Tuners: Fender Vintage style Bridge: Vintage Style Synchronized tremolo Pickguard: 1-ply white Pickups: 3 Tex-Mex Stratocaster single-coil Pickup switch: 5-way Controls: master volume, neck pickup tone, middle pickup and middle/bridge combination tone control

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nico42
    slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME
    So go buy some spiky BC Rich chipboard-piece of sh!t and leave the real guitars to the grown-ups..
    thejester
    Vabolo wrote: I'd rather age a guitar myself over a long period of time than buy one that has been relic'd at the factory, but I guess some people don't have the time or patience.
    with modern guitars and a poly coat it will probably take you 100+ years, oh and that would be if you were playing every night in a band. so yes i understand your point but not really possible with todays guitars
    westley23j
    guitars are a classy instrument. mostly. ill get to that in a second. i like the look of this worn strat. i would probably never buy this or one of the gibson road worns, but they look amazing. still looking classy after "50 years". back to my explanation of "mostly" classy. pick up a nice PRS or Les Paul for example, and without plugging it in, LOOK at it. the sparkle of the light coming off the hardware. the gleam of the new strings. you just KNOW its a quality instrument. even Jacksons and some Fenders also have THAT look. now, look at a BC Rich warlock. its just made for some high school kid who is just trying to be as "metal" as he can. he doesnt care about quality of his instrument. he just wants to look the part. thats the beauty of a truly finely constructed instrument. you will see LP or PRS users in EVERY genre. its because not only is it a nice piece of gear, he doesnt look like a tool standing on stage with a goofy looking guitar playing some blues lick. there is no rule that says "if you want to be in a heavy metal band, you cant use a traditional shaped guitar" no, but having a traditionally shaped guitar means more time focusing on the guitars main selling point--the tone--and not wasting time coming up with a new design for teenagers' first guitar.
    jetwash69
    Don't you have to remove the pickguard to adjust the truss rod? Would that be part of the "bad" that goes with this guitar? Or is there something good about that I'm missing? Guess it doesn't matter if you have a guitar tech or always take it to a good luthier for adjustments, but if that's the case then you can probably afford something like this from the Custom Shop instead.
    rolfeijg
    The review says that this guitar's sound limits the user pretty much to the real old school 50's and early 60's rhythm n blues and western/country sound. What if I would throw in some modern Fender single coils instead of the Tex-Mex ones in there, would it make it more compatible for let's say, funky stuff and hard rock? Of course it would look out of place, those brand new bright white pick-ups in a reliced guitar. But strictly talking about the sound, would it become like a vintage looking strat with a (slightly more) modern sound to it? Cause that's what I'm actually looking for... Please help me out guys
    prosong12345
    slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME
    Well, although I'm not amused by your comment, I think you are partially right. Most Fender guitars are basically replicas of the most generic, standard models. However, custom shop models allow customers to use some artwork freedom within the custom shop model, in which the artists have various choices to choose from, from NOS models to completely worn out models. However, in my opinion, I think that the standard models are much better than custom models. Another setback I see in these custom models is that they are overpriced. For the same price of this guitar, you can buy yourself a Fender Jaguar HH that is the most generic guitar I've played.
    LedFender
    one thing that really sets this guitar apart from any other strat (other than looks) is how smoothly the guitar plays. Fender did an amazing job replicating a worn guitar. i played a $20,000 1965 original strat once. beautiful guitar. smooth as butter and really had a sense of history and you could tell that this guitar was played for years. the road worn series doesn't exactly replicate what a 50-60 year old guitar would sound and feel like.. that would be pretty damn tough. point being, they did a fantastic job on these guitars. if you want the looks, the feel, sound, of an old beat up strat/tele.. these are a must.
    K!!LsWiTcH
    nico42 wrote: slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME So go buy some spiky BC Rich chipboard-piece of sh!t and leave the real guitars to the grown-ups..
    your both dumb. and says you sir. fenders were and are throw away guitars with replaceable parts. bolt on necks and you have to pay at least 1000 for a good american made strat. that being said probably one of the best reviews ive read on here in a while
    lespaul1963
    I'd like to see Fender offer this in a like-new presentation. I'll relic it myself by gigging and recording sessions. I guess I miss the point of buying a "new" guitar that looks worn. As to Gibsons and Fenders being boring to look at, I "look" at guitars with my ears. It's a musical instrument, so the beauty is in the hearing. If you want exciting visual. stimulation, go buy a porno mag. Slipnot_4_life, try listening to a guitar that isn't being run through an amp with gobs of compression, gain and distortion...you'll find that each one (even of the same make and model) has a unique voice.
    Akcowboy49
    slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME
    I hate to burst your bubble but you must not play much for the fact I've only been playing for two years and I can tell a major difference between the two
    OliOsbourne
    Don't you pay extra for these guitars because the people who make them work really hard to damage them?
    joesilvahhh
    i haven't gotten around to playing one of these yet, but they sound excellent. i just got myself a relic'd custom ship 1960 reissue strat, and it blows my mind. but the road worn series sounds like it would make a perfect alternative.
    grungelive72
    not a big fan of pre-****ed guitars, I'd rather just get some sort of telecaster brand new.
    Slap-happy
    slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME
    I don't own a Strat, have qplayed a few, but not a big fan. But I do own a US Tele and if they all sound the same then why did I plough through six of them in the store before settling onthe one I bought as having the right combination of feel, playability and the classic "twang" of tone that I was after? And, yes, all were played through identical set-ups. A little torn by the concept of relic'd guitars... If I want something worn and can't stretch funds to a '50s original then I would still trawl through the used stores first. Great review, though. I'll definitely try one for the sake of it next time I see one.
    bfk
    feathers632 wrote: slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME I must say I find fenders and gibsons very boring to look at.
    In facht, that slipknot guitarist has his own Fender Telecaster signature
    ?Loki?
    ya know i couldnt get into the surfer tone of a strat but listenin to pink floyd i kinda dig it now
    ProgFolk12
    Mate used to have one of these, really sweet feeling and sounding guitar for the money. The looks are up to you, and you might complain about it being pretty expensive for a MIM, but the satin V neck and texmex pups put it way ahead of an American Standard for what I like. Good review
    jetwash69
    tikinparmar wrote: you should see how aged my ibanez looks bought 7 years ago... its a real "road warrior". RG120 my first guitar
    Post pics of it on your profile and then maybe we can see how aged it looks.
    Grassyknolls
    i agree i'd rather relic it myself. my ibanez is wearing nicely. but i don't have a gloss urethane coating, it's more of a stain.
    feathers632
    slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME
    I must say I find fenders and gibsons very boring to look at.
    tikinparmar
    with modern guitars and a poly coat it will probably take you 100+ years, oh and that would be if you were playing every night in a band. so yes i understand your point but not really possible with todays guitars
    you should see how aged my ibanez looks bought 7 years ago... its a real "road warrior". RG120 my first guitar
    Oosh.
    Kondeeka wrote: I prefer a NOS (brand-new, but made with old technology, like a Relic without any signs of wear) I think you should age your guitar yourself, but that's my opinion.
    This is a good idea. I know that some people want their guitars to be more personal to them, and nothing does that more than good ol' wear.
    Kondeeka
    I prefer a NOS (brand-new, but made with old technology, like a Relic without any signs of wear) I think you should age your guitar yourself, but that's my opinion.
    Vabolo
    I'd rather age a guitar myself over a long period of time than buy one that has been relic'd at the factory, but I guess some people don't have the time or patience.
    thejester
    The road worns are definitely a black and white sort of taste. people generally strongly like or strongly dislike. i think from the review you can tell where i am with it. i love the relic'd look. love SRV's #1, love Clapton's Blackie. To me those guitars just have a lot of "character"
    stoneyman00
    Not into the road worn look to much. At least this one wont break the bank. I have seen some seriously expensive road worns, like the Malmsteen road worn Fender.... wow! I cant even afford to look at the pic! At the same time, its a Fender so I wouldnt snub my nose at it.
    SwordNemesis
    Awesome review. Enjoyed reading it for sure. Would love to try out the guitar, for nostalgic sake :]
    derpdragon
    slipknot_4_life wrote: THEY ALL LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME
    What a surprising statement from a guy who likes slipkock.
    Equivalence
    Excellent review, I personally never really understood the worn look of the guitars, but it sounds like a sweet guitar.
    rolfeijg
    Oh, just realised there is also a 60's Road Worn strat series. That would probably suit me better, right?