Fender has just added over a dozen new acoustic models to its California Series

Fender has announced the biggest expansion of its California Series lineup of acoustic guitars and basses since its launch in 2018, with classic designs such as the King, Palomini and Malibu all refreshed with vintage-inspired specs.

There are 13 new models in total, with 12-strings such as the Villager, punchy short-scale cutaway acoustic bass guitars such as the Kingman (which wears that Shaded Edge Burst well), and a wide range of body shapes including the concert-bodied Malibu Vintage, the historically accurate dreadnought-bodied King Vintage, and auditorium-bodied Palomino. 

Those California vintage models really do roll back the years, and feature all-solid wood builds, each with solid Sitka spruce on top, solid ovangkol on the back and sides. 

There are a lot of shared specs on these models: Fishman electrics to make them stage-ready, a modern V shape neck profile – a neck shape that should never have gone out of fashion –  with each of these retro strummers featuring a tilt-back six-in-line headstock that is unmistakably fender. 

Pleasingly, these ship in a vintage hardshell guitar case, too, and at £779/$899, the California Vintage models look like a decent deal. The California King Vintage’s Aged Natural and Mojave Burst finishes are so evocative you might unconsciously find yourself adding more earthtones to your wardrobe, and wearing corduroy jackets.

Fender California Series Kingman Bass

(Image credit: Fender)

The new California Player models bring Fender design back to the 21st-century, or at least its tastes for slimmer C profile necks. These are more affordable, priced £349/$449, and they are typical of this sprawling California range, offering plenty of finish options that reference classic Fender.

Take the Redondo Player, pictured here in Candy Apple Red with a high-contrast white pickguard. Other finishes include Lake Placid Blue, Sunburst and Natural. The left-handed model is only available in Natural. They all look sweet.

The California Player models such as this Redondo feature solid spruce on top, X-pattern bracing, sapele on the back and sides and there is a Fishman Flex pickup and preamp system onboard. If the Redondo’s cutaway dread shape and 25.5” scale is too much guitar physically, the Malibu Player, with its shorter 24” scale, might be more manageable, and it shares a similar build to its larger sibling.

Other highlights from the collection include a Newporter Player (again, spruce/sapele etc), which has some fantastic finish options in Sunburst, Tidepool, Natural and – our favourite – Surf Green.

Some of these are eminently affordable, such as the Monterey Standard. Priced £259 / $379, it has a laminated sapele build, a shorter – and Gibson-esque – 24.75” scale, narrow string spacing and onboard Fender electronics. 

If we were buying one for a younger player, or a beginner, this would be it. The onboard guitar tuner is also a very handy feature on a guitar at this price point. 

To view the full range, head on over to Fender. And to hear them in action, check out the demo video at the top of the page.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.