Braking stylistic ground as the first Fender production instrument to offer an “F” hole in a Stratocaster-shaped body, the ’72 also brings back the bullet-style trussrod, three-bolt neck, and “F”-style tuners that were hallmarks of ’70s-era Strats. I always thought the accessibility of the bullet trussrod was a good idea, but the three-bolt neck was ultimately deemed less stable than the four-bolt variety, and the original “F”-style tuners were among the shoddiest ever produced. For this new model, however, Fender has brought their functionality up to modern standards while maintaining the period look.
Though the ’72s neck pickup looks like the ones in the Mustang Special, the Enforcer Wide Range humbucker here sounds more like a PAF, with more bite than delivered by the Mustang’s pickup. The ’72’s bridge pickup, however, responds much like the one in the Mustang, albeit with a little more airiness courtesy of the ’72’s semi-hollow body.
A vintage P-Bass-style switch plate harbors just a Master Volume and a Blend control that sweeps from full bridge to full neck. If the sonic changes are not as obvious as I would have liked, there are still a couple of cool sounds to be had between the extremes. In both clean and dirty applications, the ’72 offered up a vibe reminiscent of a Gibson ES-335, with a slight Fender undertone.
Finely finished frets and a solid setup made this Pawnshop model a pleasure to play. If a humbucker-equipped semi-hollow with a unique look is on your list, you should definitely give the ’72 a try.
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