Fender Player Plus Meteora HH: What is it?
Considering Fender’s most popular designs are now elderly in age but still iconic because they were so well crafted at birth, the company has been pretty bold with them in recent years.
The Acoustasonic fused the acoustic world with the electric Strat, Tele and Jazzmaster, while the Parallel Universe and Paranormal series have allowed Fender and Squier designers to have fun and surprise players.
The Meteora was introduced as part of the Parallel Universe series in 2018 but was no mashup of the previously familiar; it’s a very different shape for Fender, and a bold talking point, looking like some vision of the future from the 60s or 70s.
Now, after a standard HH Alternate Reality Mexican model in 2019, it’s stepped up into the Player Plus line. Does it have the makings of wider appeal, or will it be remembered as an odd Fender folly?
Fender Player Plus Meteora HH: Performance and verdict
It’s a long guitar – offset taken to a new extreme in body on top of a 25.5-inch scale. That equates to a larger mass of alder, and an 8.8lb body weight. So ours is on the heavier side of the Fender scale.
It won’t sit on most stands either. And yet sat with it and standing with a strap, the Meteora feels balanced. And that comfort extends to another departure; a 12-inch radius rather than the usual Fender 9.5-inch.
Thanks to a flatter pau ferro fretboard here, bends are easier and chord shapes more comfortable. The Player Plus spec also afford ‘rolled’ fingerboard edges – subtle, yes, but they enhance the most crucial point of contact for the player and just make things feel smoother, and more familiar. We want rolled edges on all our guitars now!
We’re still not overjoyed at rosewood’s current status as a premium fretboard material at Fender, especially post-CITES regulations. For us it’s a matter of aesthetic, not tone.
Pau ferro can be lighter and streakier in grain, and that can be even less desirable with some finishes. But the hues are honestly attractive here, with browns but no lighter tan hues.
• Fender Player Plus Series Telecaster and Stratocaster
With a choice of bold and smart new finishes and the high-performance vibe of a flatter fingerboard radius, the Player Plus Series Strat and Tele extends the potential of Fender’s most successful range and offers gigging players an instrument that offers classic Fender tones and the ability to modernise them.
• Fender American Performer Jazzmaster
There’s enough vintage DNA in this models to make it cool, balanced with a level of modern build quality and playability to make them accessible to all types of player. A guitar for everyone, if you will.
It is still not superior to the darker rosewood for us, though, but alongside maple, pau ferro is the only option. A bigger concern is that there seems to be a small raised area of what looks like dried glue on the 8th fret between the A and D strings – a rare QC oversight at the Ensenada factory?
As bold as the body is – and whether you are taken with the striking Belair Blue finish it is very well applied – the headstock is undeniably Strat-like, and with that same 12-inch radius as the Strat and other models in the Player Plus line we’re really becoming fans of the combination.
Whether it will tempt Fender players from 9.5” and 7.5” is really something only trying will reveal – smaller hands especially may find the transition unwelcome. But Gibson aficionados should definitely be giving this flatter feel a test – especially with the setup here as it’s absolutely spot on for us. Low but still resonant; it’s acoustically satisfying.
It would be easy to assume from the telltale offset pole pieces the pickups here are Fender’s modern take on its Wide Range humbucker found in some Thinline Teles, but these are a new Fireball model. Quelle est la différence? Fender says they “blend the perfect amount of gain with great string-to-string note clarity”, a description that would certainly fit WR ’buckers.
If you’re turned off by the lack of chime and articulation with some humbuckers, these could be very good news indeed. Bright, crunchy and articulate with a heavy dose of Orange Rockerverb gain; the mids really ring out and it feels open, rather than compressed.
That makes for a great neck pickup that won’t get sludgy in the mix with chord work, and could well win some of the P-90 gang round, perhaps less so for those who want super chunk palm muting.
All of which makes the S1 switching fit in perfectly here – while the loss of low end is always noticeable when playing clean, there’s none of the abrupt switch to thin overly steely tones that can give coil-splitting a bad rep. And wherever you stand on the look of the Meteora, the tones are highly likeable.
MusicRadar verdict: A bold Fender offset to wean the offset superfans off their classic shapes? Maybe. The Meteora's superb humbucker voicing allied to the S1 switching make it a convincing tone machine – a guitar that looks new but feels familiar thanks to its easy playability.
Fender Player Plus Meteora HH: The web says
"While plenty of us obsess about vintage-accurate details, the Player Plus guitars released so far have impressed us as very fit-for-purpose instruments.
"The addition of this Meteora to the range doesn’t change that one bit: it might look a bit out there, but it feels surprisingly normal and the sounds we hear have plenty of appeal."
Guitarist (opens in new tab)
Fender Player Plus Meteora HH: Hands-on demos
Alamo Music Center
R. J. Ronquillo
Fender Player Plus Meteora HH: Specifications
- BODY: Alder
- NECK: Maple
- SCALE: 648mm (25.5”)
- FINGERBOARD: Pau Ferro, 12” radius
- FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
- PICKUPS: Fender Fireball humbuckers with coil-splitting via S1 switch on Volume
- CONTROLS: Volume, Tone x 2, 3-way selector
- HARDWARE: Fender Deluxe locking tuners, Fender 2-point synchronized tremolo with brushed steel block saddles
- LEFT-HANDED: No
- GIG BAG: Included
- FINISH: Belair Blue (reviewed), 3-Colour Sunburst (with maple fretboard), Cosmic Jade (with pau ferro fretboard), Silverburst (with maple fretboard)
- CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)