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.
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