“I imagined a chrome red, I love a good texture”: Fender reveals specs and more details of H.E.R’s custom Super Bowl Stratocaster – and we officially want one

(Image credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It was only the other week when Fender’s vice-president of product, Justin Norvell, was reeling off the pop-cultural events where the Stratocaster was front and centre and then lo, Sunday brings us H.E.R and her Strat at the Super Bowl half-time show with Usher

An event watched by more than 123 million viewers – a record for in US television broadcasting – chalk that down for Norvell’s list. There are of course alternative Super Bowl talking points but there was only one for us, and that was the bright red Strat that H.E.R was playing. 

What was going on with the colour, that paint job that looked like Candy Apple Red, as though it had been put through a saturation filter? Was this a new model, soon to be released? 

Fender has made no suggestion that it is about to add to H.E.R’s line of signature Strats, which are presently offered in the O.G. iridescent Chrome Glow, and Marlin Blue, a limited edition colourway inspired by fishing trips with her dad, which is still available in some outlets if you look hard enough.

What the Big F has done, however, is share some of the specs from H.E.R’s Super Bowl Strat, revealing that it was a Custom Shop built-to-order electric guitar with some amendments to the Mexican-built signature guitar we’re familiar with. There were two things it needed; a new look and a faster neck.

“I imagined a chrome red,” said H.E.R. “I love a good texture. We also made the neck a little slimmer to make it easier for my solos – I wanted it to be effortless.”

Well, this is the Fender Custom Shop and this is a Grammy-winning artist; the neck was duly reshaped, swapping out the mid-‘60s C profile of the current H.E.R Strat for a slimmed down Modern D profile, which sounds to us like it would make it a similarly contemporary feel to the American Ultra Stratocaster – though without the sculpted heel that makes the upper-fret access that little bit easier on the Ultras. The fingerboard was rosewood instead of maple on the regular H.E.R models.

As for the colour, that was a one-off, and it sounds like they got a little experimental in the paint room, coating her Chrome Glow finish with a transparent red stain, turning the guitar red but preserving that pearlescent metallic effect.

This was offset with a black single-ply anodized aluminium pickguard, black covered Noiseless Strat pickups, controlled by matching black skirted Strat control knobs. It had modern vintage tuners, which presumably means the locking tuners with vintage-style buttons. And that was that.

Will we see it for sale in the year to come? The Stratocaster is celebrating its 70th Anniversary, and while we have already seen some Anniversary releases, there are surely more models to follow. You can read more on what Fender has planned for 2024 in MusicRadar's interview with Justin Norvell.

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.