NAMM 2018: Fender's new Parallel Universe range will feature a limited edition run of 9 guitars, including a Strat-Tele hybrid, Jazz Tele, Meteora and a '51 Telecaster PJ Bass, all of which will hit shelves at monthly intervals from April. However, the Big F's marketing bods must be chuckling at the serendipity that - in the year Fender launches the Les Paul-aping Troublemaker Tele - Gibson has opted not to showcase at NAMM, in favour of the Vegas-based Consumer Electronics Show earlier in the month.
The Parallel Universe range arrives just at the point when we were beginning to think the big brands were playing it a bit safe at this year's event and the range is sure to induce everything from double-takes to expletives on shop floors and stages, so it will be interesting to see how popular these models prove with players.
Browse on for more details of the mahogany-bodied, maple-capped Troublemaker Tele, not to mention the Strat-Tele Hybrid, the Elite Nashville Telecaster HSS, The Jazz Tele, the Tele Thinline Super Deluxe, the Whiteguard Strat, the Jaguar Strat, the Meteora and the '51 Telecaster PJ Bass. All of the new models have an MSRP of $1,999.99.
Doing exactly as it says on the tin, the Strat-Tele Hybrid combines Strat contouring, three Custom Shop '69 Aged Strat pickups and a vibrato bridge with a traditional Tele body in 2-Color Sunburst.
Elite Nashville Telecaster HSS
With a focus on performance, we expect this palatable Tele will prove one of the most popular models of the range, particularly with those players that prize functionality over novelty. Combining a Shawbucker bridge pickup with Pure Vintage ’64 Tele single-coils and a player-friendly C-to-D profile neck, we can see this winding up in the hands of session musicians and touring types.
Melding a Jazzmaster neck, vibrato and pickups with a Tele body and controls, the Jazz Tele is more restrained than its surf-hybrid sibling the Jaguar Strat, but something about the aesthetic works and we enjoy details such as the floral Fender logo.
Fender says the Shawbucker-equipped Troublemaker is designed to "raise a little hell", suggesting that stirring up a little attention, they picture players channeling a little of the rock iconography associated with its Les Paul inspiration.
The mahogany body is topped with a book-matched top, the neck is a bolt-on but it is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard (albeit with dot, not trapezoid, inlays), while the Fender spirit is retained with the Jazzmaster control knobs and switch tip.
Tele Thinline Super Deluxe
This distinctly retro double-bound semi-hollow Tele features TV Jones Classic pickups, an eye-catching silver sparkle scratchplate and a bass-cutting tone knob.
This could be considered the second part of a pair of crossovers that begins with the Strat-Tele Hybrid, placing Tele features on an ash-bodied Strat outline. With a Vintage Blonde lacquer finish, it looks the part and is less incongruous than its sibling - keeping the build simple with Tele switching, Custom Shop ‘51 Nocaster pickups and a maple neck.
It seems Fenders thrown the full Jaguar works at this model, but under the surface it seems a fair amount of refinement has occurred, particularly when it comes to the switching.
The latter combines the Strat's five-way selector with the Jaguar's thumbwheel tone control for the bridge. Position three on the pickup selector engages the upper bout controls, allowing players to engage solely the middle pickup, middle and neck or all three single-coil Jaguar pickups.
A new body shape, albeit a limited edition run, the Meteora combines Custom Shop Tele pickups, with a bold aesthetic that looks like an obscure cut from Fender's 60s catalogue.
Under the Butterscotch Blonde lacquer finish you'll find an ash body, paired with a Jazzmaster maple neck and Custom Shop vintage-style Tele and Twisted Tele pickups.
'51 Telecaster PJ Bass
A melding of a melding, this is perhaps the most meta design in the Parallel Universe series, bringing together a '51 P Bass body and Telecaster Bass neck, alongside a Custom Shop ‘60s Jazz Bass single-coil bridge pickup and Custom Shop ‘60s P Bass split-coil middle pickup.
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