Bruno Mars has joined Fender’s artist line-up and the Hawaiian-born unit-shifting pop polymath has a new signature Stratocaster to show for it that is one for the ages, an instrument that treads the line between vintage and modern.
There is plenty of modern, plenty of new to get excited about here. This Strat’s complement of single-coil pickups are custom-wound to Mars’ specifications. The finish, Mars Mocha, is simply the latest eye-catching solid colour triumph to come out of the Fender paint room.
American Ultra sculpting has been applied to the body and lower cutaway to enhance upper-fret access and ergonomics, and in a very a la mode appointment for high-end electric guitars in 2023 we have stainless steel frets. Furthermore, we have a compound radius on the maple fingerboard, from 9.5” to 12”.
And, perhaps most notably, Fender has applied its brand-new Heirloom ageing process to the nitrocellulose lacquer finish and gold hardware. It looks exquisite.
But ultimately the Bruno Mars Stratocaster should feel very 1969. That’s the sort of neck profile Mars was going for here, with the shape replicated by Fender to match his own ’69 Strat. The 2-point synchronised tremolo will be familiar enough to old-school Strat players, the locking tuners a welcome addition. The idea behind all this was to create a guitar with songs in it.
“I don’t think of myself as a guitar player. I’m more of a frustrated songwriter,” says Mars. “Every song is like a puzzle you have to solve, and a good guitar can bring something out of you that can help take you to the finish line. That’s what I wanted from this guitar.”
Also, it’s the sort of guitar you can take anywhere. It’s not quite Custom Shop ageing, in which top-shelf electric guitars leave Corona looking as though they’ve endured 30 years on tour with a hard-living band. But it looks as though the guitar has lived a little, and has plenty more gas in the tank.
“It was also important to have a workhorse that I could depend on for performing live and writing in the studio, whether it be rhythm or lead,” says Mars.
“We wanted to fashion a guitar that shows Fender’s respect for the artists marking today’s musical hall of fame, as well as displays Bruno Mars’s supernova qualities,” says Justin Norvell, EVP of product, Fender. “Bruno has been a tried and true Fender player since the early days of his career and we’re thrilled to include his signature among our roster. Between the all-new finish to the custom-voiced pickups, we’re confident this will be one of our largest signature launches to date.”
Norvell might be in luck. Mars is as high-profile as it gets. And this Strat has something for everybody, even going so far as to ship with both mint green and black pickguards – and it looks good in both.
The Bruno Mars Stratocaster is available now, priced £3,149 / $2,999. See Fender for more details.