No matter how good the tone of modern materials such as Flaxwood and Arium are claimed to be, some players will simply not entertain owning a guitar unless it's made from vintage wood. Fender has soft-launched a Special Edition series of guitars aimed at players looking for the distinct tone of old growth timber, while enjoying the benefits of modern features and hardware. The company has secured a limited amount of reclaimed wood from obscure locations in the US for an interesting take on its iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. The redwood model is made using wood from the 1930s, and the pine models timber dates back to 1868 ... and you don't get much more vintage than that.
The body of Fender's Old Growth Redwood Stratocaster is made from timber reclaimed from bridges built as part of job creation projects in the Great Depression. The Walker Basin Creek and Caliente Creek bridges near Bakersfield, California, were both constructed in 1933, and decommissioned in 2012. The one-piece body has been hand-rubbed in oil to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Fender says that players can expect a tone that's "warm and rich; similar to cedar."
This Special Edition guitar has a 25.5-inch scale, modern C-shaped maple neck (also hand-rubbed in oil) with a rosewood fingerboard sporting 21 medium jumbo frets and a synthetic bone nut. The nickel/chrome hardware includes a two-point synchronized tremolo system with bent-steel saddles and staggered cast/sealed tuners, and the brown pickguard is fashioned from anodized aluminum. Fender has chosen to give this model a humbucker/single/single (or HSS) pickup configuration, with a Fender Diamondback bridge pickup and two American Vintage '65 gray-bottom singles in the middle and neck positions.
The Old Growth Redwood Strat comes supplied with a Fender hard case, strap, cable and polishing cloth.
The timber for the Reclaimed Eastern Pine Stratocaster and Telecaster is the same kind of tone wood used by Leo Fender to create the very first Telecasters. The wood used for these new models was originally used to build a dairy barn in Lake Odessa, Michigan in the middle of the 19th century. Fender's craftsmen haven't worked around all the knots, gashes and other imperfections, but have left them intact – only adding a hand-rubbed dark satin stain finish. As such, no two guitars in this limited series will be exactly alike. The tone is described by the company as "resonant and airy, with plenty of sustain and a prominent midrange; similar to ash."
Both guitars feature a 25.5-inch scale, 22-fret rosewood neck with rosewood fingerboard with a modern C-shaped profile, a single-ply phenolic pickguard, black plastic knobs, and aged hardware. The Strat is treated to three Custom Shop 1950s single-coil pickups, a 5-way switch selector and black plastic knobs, while the Tele gets a Texas Special single-coil at the neck and a Custom Shop Broadcaster at the bridge, a 4-way switch and knurled flat-top knobs.
All three limited run instruments are available now for a list price of US$2,599.99. As for exactly how limited these undeniably beautiful creations are, Fender's Jason Farrell told us that, "once these are gone, they're gone. However, I'm sure we'll find other new reclaimed woods in the future."