We're delighted to see Fender turning its attention to the Paramount range of acoustic guitars, because we've had great experiences with them in the past. Even so, six new models is quite a statement. And they're all very different propositions too. Yes, this release drop contains banjo and mandolin.
First up, we have three acoustic designs aimed at broad appeal. And these do look very aesthetically pleasing to us, and we always appreciate a tigerstripe pickguard.
The Paramount Series Dreadnaught, Orchestra, and Parlour models are a relaunch for the series of sorts. They offer the choice of a solid spruce or solid mahogany top paired with solid mahogany back and sides.
An offset X-bracing pattern that has been 'carefully refined to optimize resonance and tone' but those kind of claims are standard these days. More unusual is that all models still come loaded with hardshell cases like the previous higher end Paramounts we've reviewed.
Even more intriguing still are the Fender & Fishman-designed pickups. Because those two companies knocked it out of the park with the Acoustasonic.
"A body-sensing pickup that enhances the soundboard's vibrations," is the description of the piezo/transducer mix for the Sonitone Plus Pickup System. The preamp system will also include low profile (read: hidden) soundhole mounted controls.
Updated cosmetics include snowflake-shaped pearloid fingerboard inlays, feathered purfling, rosette, backstrip and a black or tigerstripe pickguard.
Finish options are 3-Color Vintage Sunburst, Natural or Aged Cognac Burst.
All three models are also fitted with bone nut and saddle with slim taper mahogany necks, plus an ovangkol bridge. They will be $829.99 / £649 / €749 and released in February and April.
The Paramount Series PR-180E Resonator ($549.99 / £549 / €599) features an all-mahogany construction with a s spider resonating cone. The PR-180E is fitted with the Fishman Nashville pickup system that's become a go-to for resonator players.
Other features include ovangkol fingerboard with snowflake inlays, bone nut and a hardshell case.
Doubling-down further on the Americana, the Paramount Series PB-180E Banjo ($449.99, £339, €399) and Paramount Series PM-180E Mandolin ($399.99, £339, €399) offer a mix of tradition style and modern appointments.
The Paramount Series PB-180E Banjo features a mahogany rim and neck with a Remo Fiberskyn head and is fitted with Fishman electronics. Fingerboard is walnut with snowflake inlays and the Banjo is fitted with an arm rest, bone nut and gig bag.
The Paramount Series PM-180E Mandolin features a spruce top, mahogany 'A'- style body and parallel tone bar. It comes equipped with a Fishman pickup, walnut fingerboard with snowflake inlays, open-gear tuners with pearloid buttons, bone nut and gig bag.