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Fender makes guitars. You knew that.
Fender makes very good guitars. You knew that too.
In this review, I’ll look at some Fender acoustic electric guitars that you could call specialty guitars, especially because they have special names. With apologies to Dana Carvey, now isn’t that special?
The 4 guitars I’ll review are in the list below. If you just want to check their pricing and availability at Amazon, you can click those links now.
If you have time for a little more detail and want to skip to a certain section of the review, you can click a link in the box below. Otherwise, just keep scrolling and read as usual.
Why Is It Called a T-Bucket?
The original T-Bucket was a hot rod car based on the Ford Model T. How that name was transferred to a Fender guitar, I don’t know.
If you know, please educate the rest of us in the comments below.
The Fender T-Bucket 300CE, which is at the low end of those Fender makes, comes in 3 different finishes: Natural (aka 3-color Sunburst), Moonlight Burst, and Trans Cherry Burst.
There is a table below that compares most of the features of most of the guitars in this review, but I’ll mention just a few of the T-Bucket’s main ones here.
This cutaway dreadnought has the Fishman Isys III pickup system with an active preamp, chromatic tuner, volume, and bass, middle, and treble tone controls. Fishman is a common and reliable name in pickups. All four of the models mentioned here use this same pickup system.
All of these models use Fender’s “scalloped bracing” inside. Here is how Fender describes this setup.
“Scalloped bracing is thinner than more conventional bracing. That means that the bracing pattern inside the guitar uses less wood, which means that soundboard mass is reduced. This lets the top resonate more freely, resulting in better tone with more nuance and greater projection.”
Three of these guitars also feature a GraphTech NuBone nut and compensated saddle. And here’s what Fender claims about the use of this material.
“GraphTech string nuts and bridge saddles enhance the sustain, clarity and tonal consistency of an acoustic instrument. Neither too soft nor too brittle, they eliminate troublesome string binding, and they deliver performance, workability and appearance that easily outdo other plastics and come remarkably close to real bone.”
Listen to what the T-Bucket sounds like in this brief video from Dawsons.
Fender Sonoran SCE
You can get the Sonoran SCE in almost the full rainbow of colors: Black, Candy Apple Red, Lake Placid Blue, Natural, and Surf Green. According to Fender, no matter which color you choose, you’ll be “overflowing with cool.” While you probably already had to be at the brim of coolness to suddenly be “overflowing”, it’s true that these colors are pretty sweet.
Sorry, I couldn’t find a useable picture of the Lake Placid Blue. You can see it at the Fender site.
You may not yet be convinced that the composition and shape of the saddle, that little piece near the hole that holds the strings in place, makes much difference as to how your guitar sounds. The Sonoran comes with a real bone saddle that can make all the difference in the world.
Consider what Fender says about the saddle below, and then see how Todd Phillips evaluates it in this review at Maury’s Music.
“String nuts and bridge saddles fashioned from bone contribute to brighter, clearer acoustic tone. Many players consider them more ‘organic’ sounding, with tonal quality unmatched by string nuts and bridge saddles made using synthetic materials.”
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat FSR
For those not familiar with Tim Armstrong, here is a brief bio about Tim and his guitar.
“Well known as the Grammy-winning founder of influential U.S. punk band Rancid, Tim Armstrong is also well respected as a producer and indie label owner. But as a songwriter, he has always turned to his old Fender concert-style acoustic for inspiration. The Tim Armstrong Hellcat is based on Armstrong’s own classic instrument, with modern appointments including high-quality onboard electronics. A great guitar for pop, rock, folk and more, it has a solid mahogany top for especially sweet sound and a satin-finish maple neck for smooth playability.”
According to the Fender website, this Hellcat only comes in Ruby Red, but I have seen other colors elsewhere, so if you don’t care for the red, you may be in luck.
Both the Sonoran and the Hellcat have solid tops. The Sonoran top is made of spruce; the Hellcat is mahogany. Fender claims that a solid top “resonates with a more individual tonal character, more ‘organic’ consistency and a more ‘true’ voice.” While these are rather vague descriptions, having a solid top on your guitar is generally a good thing. If you’re purposely looking for the sound that a non-solid guitar produces, then you should choose a different model.
Comparing the Fender Specialty Guitars
The tables below give you most of the specifications for three of the guitars in this review. I have not included the Stratacoustic simply because Fender doesn’t readily provide some of these details. What information I have about the Stratacoustic follows the tables.
|Body Back||Mahogany||Laminated Mahogany||Laminated Mahogany|
|Body Sides||Mahogany||Laminated Mahogany||Laminated Mahogany|
|Body Top||Flame Maple||Solid Spruce||Solid Mahogany|
|Body Binding||Aged White||Multiple||Multiple|
|Rosette||Rosewood with aged white outline||Checkerboard||70s F Style|
|Neck Material||3-piece Maple||Maple||Maple|
|Neck Binding||Aged White||n/a||n/a|
|Scale Length (mm)||643||643||643|
|Fingerboard Radius (mm)||300||300||300|
|Fret Size||Vintage Style||n/a||Vintage Style|
|Nut Width (mm)||43||43||43|
|Truss Rod||Dual Action||Dual Action||Dual Action|
|Bridge Pins||Black with white dots||White with black dots||White with black dots|
|Strings||Fender Dura-Tone 880L||Fender Dura-Tone 880L||Fender Dura-Tone 880L|
First, note that the Stratacoustic is currently not carried by some of the major online shops. I don’t know if this is a temporary situation or not.
As you can tell from the name, the Stratacoustic is patterned after the Fender Stratocaster. Even if you’re not a guitar player, you very likely have heard the word Stratocaster at some point.
This model comes in basic black.
Here are the specifications I have been able to find for the Stratacoustic.
- Fiberglass back and sides
- Spruce top
- Maple neck with a satin finish
- Rosewood fingerboard
- Rosewood bridge
- 21 Frets
- NuBone compensated saddle
- Checkerboard rosette
- Aged White body binding
- Oval sound hole
You can see from some of these items the influence of the electric guitar – the fiberglass, the 21 frets, and perhaps the oval sound hole.
You can hear the Stratacoustic and learn a few more details in this video from Musician’s Friend.
You want one of these. See the Stratacoustic at Amazon now.
Conclusions about the Fender Specialty Guitars
Since each of these models in special in its own way, there’s no point in saying that one of them is better than the other.
You simply have to decide for yourself which specialty you like most or is more important to you than the others, and then you head off to find one of your own.
All four of these are in the same price range which you can check at Amazon using the specific links above or the general one below.