An affordable acoustic-electric with bold looks and a big sound.
by Teja Gerken
July 16, 2018
Fender electric guitars and amplifiers have had a monumental impact on the soundscape of contemporary music. Since the early 1960s, the company has also produced a line of acoustic guitars, originally designed by famed luthier Roger Rossmeisl. Over the decades, Fender has offered many acoustic models, often incorporating stylistic elements from their electric counterparts. The most recent is the company’s new California series, which includes the mid-level Redondo Special.
With its black matte finish and Stratocaster-style six-in-line peghead, the Redondo Special is a guitar with striking looks built with a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. The cutaway body shape is a Fender original based on a slope-shoulder dreadnought design, the largest of the California series instruments. With its slim taper, the C-shaped neck feels a lot like the necks on some Fender electrics, and it’s topped with a beautiful pau ferro fretboard, the same wood used for the guitar’s bridge.
Fender worked with acoustic amplification specialists Fishman to create an electronics package featuring different custom voicings for each guitar in the California series. With an active undersaddle pickup, the system includes controls for volume, bass, and treble, as well as phase-reversal, and a built-in tuner.
The Redondo Special has a loud acoustic sound with good bass response and a balanced tonality. The neck will definitely appeal to players who are used to electric guitars, and the cutaway allows easy access to the higher register. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, the guitar offered solid amplified qualities, and the onboard controls made it easy to tweak the fundamentally natural tone. The tuner, which works whether the guitar is plugged in or not, was fast and had no problems with various alternate tunings.
Overall, the Redondo Special is a cool guitar that blends distinctive looks and electric guitar playability with honest acoustic tone.
SPECS: Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Pau ferro fretboard and bridge. 25.5 scale. 1.69-inch nut width. Six-on-a-side, enclosed nickel tuning machines. Fishman electronics. Designed in the USA, manufactured in China. $699. Fender.com
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