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