If the Starship Enterprise’s transporter accidentally
glitched while reassembling a
Strat, a Tele, and a ’50s P-Bass, the result
might look like the Fender ’51—which
also bears more than a passing resemblance
to the discontinued Squire 51.
Kluson-style tuners increase the vintage-
vibe over the Squire version, however,
better matching the round string
trees. The overall high-quality feel and
finish indicate that this Japanese-made
model is far from a starter instrument, and
the ’51 resonates acoustically like the product
of a boutique builder.
The controls include a push-pull Volume
knob to split the bridge pickup, and a 3-way
selector. In single-coil mode, the bridge
pickup became very thin and suitable for little
more than funk and reggae rhythm sounds.
It would have been nice if it cancelled hum
when combined with the neck pickup, but
alas not. Still, with the amp set for a bright
response, the full bridge humbucker delivered
enough twang to make splitting unnecessary.
The Texas Special single-coil in the neck
serves up the kind of Lone Star spank that you
would expect. Though reportedly the same
bridge pickup as the ’72, the Enforcer here
exhibits a little more bite, likely due to the
maple-on-maple neck, which is C-shaped and
finished in beautiful butterscotch. Though
the neck and fretboard wear a gloss coat,
my fingers slid as smoothly as if on a satinfinished stick.
The Fender ’51’s styling, build quality, and
range of tones make it a great go-to guitar for
modern roots music and a variety of pop and
rock applications as well.
More from this Roundup:
Fender Pawnshop Series and 60th Anniversary Telecaster