Review: Fender Paramount Deluxe Series Acoustics

Fender makes a lot of guitars (duh), and they debut a ton of models at every NAMM show, but it was hard to be blasé when we saw the new Paramount line unveiled earlier this year.
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Fender makes a lot of guitars (duh), and they debut a ton of models at every NAMM show, but it was hard to be blasé when we saw the new Paramount line unveiled earlier this year. We were particularly drawn to the dusky vintage sunburst on the Deluxe series. Apparently a two-year project for Fender’s builders, the Paramounts are designed to move the company out of its “we build awesome acoustics for beginners” reputation, and into the next phase of providing a great instrument for more advanced players. The three Paramount Deluxe models sent to us for review—all in that sexy vintage ’burst—are certainly beautiful-looking guitars, and the workmanship and features promise good things.

Fender Paramount PM-1 Deluxe Dreadnought

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Sometimes it takes just one thing to prompt a response of “Oh, man—that’s gorgeous.” The PM-1 has four: the vintage sunburst finish, the checkerboard binding/rosette, the art-deco fretboard inlays, and the ebony bean buttons on the open-geared tuners. It all just gets better from there. The workmanship is excellent, with very clean internal bracing, well-dressed frets, immaculate inlays, and a subtle Fishman preamp that almost blends right into the guitar’s design. The PM-1 has a comfortable neck, and it’s one of those guitars you simply enjoy playing. Whether I was picking single-note melodies, fingerpicking open-chord arpeggios, or strumming like a drunken balladeer, the PM-1 served up everything I gave it without any ergonomic impediments.

The PM-1 produces a balanced sonic spectrum with a ringing, but not overly bright midrange. It’s very articulate—all notes speak clearly whether you’re strumming or shredding—and its even tonal demeanor ensures that no notes leap out over any others. There’s also a quick attack, zero compression (no matter how hard you beat those strings), and a nice, organic sustain that’s never muddy or boomy. The PM-1 is a perfect partner for layering acoustic textures in the studio, driving rock songs amidst electric instruments, and projecting solo-acoustic performances across noisy coffee shops or clubs.
—Mm

Fender Paramount PM-2 Deluxe Parlor

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The smaller-bodied PM-2 is a sweet looking guitar that features solid rosewood back and sides, a solid Sitka spruce top, and an ebony bridge and fretboard. Gloss finished and decked out with checkerboard binding around the top, checkerboard back stripe, and black/white binding everywhere else, the PM-2 is a classy affair even before you get to the abalone and mother-of-pearl “Concert Tone” inlays that jazz up the fretboard. The neck has a comfortable C shape and the 19 narrow frets are smooth and consistent. Everything about this guitar feels light and nimble, and it plays very well.

Acoustically the PM-2 has good warmth and complexity, and its slightly midrangey voice carries well even though the overall volume is somewhat limited. Not an issue, however, as the Fishman PM system makes this guitar very stageworthy while delivering an accurate representation of its acoustic sound. Played though three small tube combos by Vintage 47, as well as a Henricksen Bud acoustic amp, the PM-2 proved easy to dial in. Setting the Bass control at its center detent with the Treble turned to 2 o’clock gave a full, clear sound with plenty of detail. Thanks to the onboard feedback filter, the PM-2 can get quite loud without howling, making it a practical performance instrument for those who prefer the parlor size.
—AT

Fender Paramount PM-3 Deluxe 000

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The PM-3 features a larger “orchestra” body with a cutaway, and it also boasts solid rosewood back and sides, a solid Sitka spruce top, and an ebony bridge and fretboard. The gloss-finished instrument has the same binding scheme as the smaller PM-2, and the checkerboard pattern on the top and back is very attractive. Along with the Concert Tone fretboard markers, the ebony headstock facing is also decorated with abalone and mother-of-pearl inlays. Sonically, the PM-3 delivers a balanced tone with firm lows and nice top-end sparkle. It has lots of presence when played with a flat-pick, and its touch-responsiveness makes it a good choice for fingerstyle too. If you had to pick an all-arounder from the Paramount line, it would be hard to go wrong with this one.

Again, the Fishman PM system is great match here, as it sounded very natural though various amplification systems. I could play the guitar hard without hearing any harshness from the piezo pickup, and that’s a real thing of beauty when amplifying an acoustic. The voicing of the Bass and Treble controls made it easy to get happening sounds from the Henricksen Bud and trio of Vintage 47 tube combos, and also I like the easy-to-read display of the tuner, which, as on the PM-2, is activated by pressing the right side of the oval screen (pressing the left side activates the phase switch). With its solid-wood construction, sweet tones, and easy playability, the PM-3 certainly offers a lot of bang for the buck.
—AT

CONTACT fender.com

Paramount PM-1

PRICE $999 street
NUT WIDT H 1.69", bone
NECK Mahogany
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25.3" scale
FRETS 20
TUNERS Nickel-plated open-gear with ebony buttons
BODY Solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top, scalloped X bracing
BRIDGE Ebony with compensated bone saddle
ELECTRONICS Fishman PM with under-saddle piezo (electronics specifically tuned and voiced for body shape)
CONTROLS Volume, Bass, Treble, phase switch, tuner
FACTORY STRINGS Fender
WEIGHT 4.74 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Solid-wood construction. Looks and plays great. Balanced sound.
CONCERNS None.

Paramount PM-2

PRICE $999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75", bone
NECK Mahogany
FRETBOARD Ebony, 24.7" scale
FRETS 19
TUNERS Nickel-plated open-gear with ebony buttons
BODY Solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top, scalloped X bracing
BRIDGE Ebony with compensated bone saddle
ELECTRONICS Fishman PM with under-saddle piezo (electronics specifically tuned and voiced for body shape)
CONTROLS Volume, Bass, Treble, phase switch, tuner
FACTORY STRINGS Fender
WEIGHT 4.18 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Solid wood construction. Nice ornamentation. Plays well. Good-sounding electronics.
CONCERNS Knobs are a little hard to grasp.

Paramount PM-3

PRICE $999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75", bone
NECK Mahogany
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25.3" scale
FRETS 20
TUNERS Nickel-plated open-gear with ebony buttons
BODY Solid East Indian back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top, scalloped X bracing
BRIDGE Ebony with compensated bone saddle
ELECTRONICS Fishman PM with under-saddle piezo (electronics specifically tuned and voiced for body shape)
CONTROLS Volume, Treble, Bass, phase switch, tuner
FACTORY STRINGS Fender
WEIGHT 4.4 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Solid wood construction. Nice acoustic sound. Well-voiced electronics.
CONCERNS Knobs are a little hard to grasp.

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