"Built by the people, for the people & within your reach" is the slogan on Fender's website describing the new American Special line of guitars and basses. And it's an apt descriptor: the new instruments are made in the USA and come in at stellar prices. I had the chance to check out five instruments: a Telecaster, a Stratocaster, a Stratocaster HSS (with a humbucker at the bridge), a Jazz Bass, and a Precision Bass.
All five instruments were top notch. They were solidly constructed, well set up right out of the box, and primed for making music. I ran them through a Fender Mustang III amplifier (see sidebar for more on this amp). Each one produced the tone I've come to expect from a high-quality Fender instrument, from the twang of the Tele to the quack of the Strat in the in-between position to the crunch of the HSS humbucker to the rolling thunder of the two basses.
We're talking classic good looks combined with classic tones. Each of the instruments rang well, with plenty of sustain. The pickups were solid, offering full, rich tones. And the hardware was of the quality you'd expect from an American-made guitar or bass. These were U.S.-made Fenders all the way.
How much did I like the American Specials? Well, I ended up spending my hard-earned dollars to buy the Precision Bass for myself, and I couldn't be happier. It plays great, it's light, it rings like a bell, it sustains well, and the tone is true P Bass all the way. The same can be said for the whole American Special family; they all deliver the real thing at a great price, and they're made in America - very nice!
BONUS: Mustang III
I had the opportunity to play the American Special guitars through the new Mustang III amplifier. This is a pretty amazing piece of work from Fender: 100 watts, 12" speaker, built-in effects, and excellent-sounding amp models of all types. Whether for home practice -- yes, it sounds great at very low volume levels despite the high power rating -- rehearsal, studio work, or live performance, there's a ton of tone in this lightweight, highly affordable amp. It's the first Mustang I've played through, and I'm sure it won't be the last -- Mustangs rock!