One of the most unique line-up of guitars made by any of the major manufacturers has got to be the Fender Pawn Shop series of electrics. It affords Fender and their talented luthiers the freedom to play around with several “what if” dream guitar builds that you simply can’t peg as “standard.” Fender themselves describe the series as “guitars that never were but should have been.” Think of these more like “garage shop” guitars rather than pawn as this is the same line that gave guitarists the Fender 51 (consisting of a Stratocaster body and a Telecaster neck along with the not so stock combination of a single coil Texas Special neck pickup and a humbucking Fender Enforcer body pickup) and the Reverse Jaguar Bass (whose notable features include a "reverse" body and "reverse" headstock, new pickguard shape, two enormous Reverse Jaguar humbucking pickups and a streamlined control layout of a single three-way pickup toggle switch and two knobs), among other truly unique concoctions.
This year, Fender is looking to reinvigorate the line with four brand new models: the Pawn Shop ‘70s Stratocaster Deluxe, the Pawn Shop Bass VI, the Pawn Shop Mustang Bass and the Pawn Shop Super-Sonic. While the names might sound familiar, the fact that they are preceded by the “Pawn Shop” label means they are anything but! Let’s take a look at each of them and see exactly what they bring to the table.
Like most guitars in the Pawn Shop line, this guitar is a crossover model, combining attributes from both a Strat and Tele all packed into a Strat body. The body itself is solid, double-cut and made of alder. To keep it traditional and true to its tag, this electric does not feature binding and top wood covers. However, it does have a pickguard, a Tele pickguard from the '70s. Bridge section is equipped with a standard Fender hardtail bridge with six adjustable saddles and string-through design. It is plated in nickel/chrome combination. Pickups section is equipped with two pickups; a Wide Range Enforcer humbucker in the bridge position and a standard Tele single coil in the neck position which is a nice combination if you’re like me and like the option of having the jangly twang of a single coil and the thicker, warmer attack of the humbucker (or a combination of both).
As far as controls are concerned, this Strat comes with a master volume, master tone and a three-position blade switch. The maple neck is equipped with U contour in the back and a bolt-on joint. It`s topped with a 22-fret maple fingerboard sporting medium jumbo frets, black dot inlays, 9.5" radius and 1.65" wide synthetic bone nut. Tuners are naturally made by Fender and plated in chrome. Scale measures standard 25-1/2" in length so nothing too crazy in that department.
Not quite a bass and not quite a guitar – a baritone actually, and not just because it features six strings (but because it actually is a baritone guitar, regardless of the name). Inspired by the historic Fender Bass VI of 1961-1975 that was played by a number of notable rockers – including George Harrison on the “Hey Jude” promo video as well as Jack Bruce of Cream – Fender has updated the baritone classic by including Special Design Hot Jaguar single-coil neck and middle pickups along with a high-attack JZHB Humbucker which are routed through a versatile 5-way switch which makes for more than a few interesting combinations (especially when you mix the humbucking bridge and the single-coil neck). Simply put – if you want unique textures for your music that a normal guitar or bass just can’t give you, Fender's Pawn Shop Bass VI should do the trick!
Other features include a "C"-shaped maple neck with 9.5"-radius rosewood fingerboard and 21 medium jumbo frets, five-way pickup switching, four-ply tortoiseshell pickguard (Three-color Sunburst and Black models) and three-ply parchment pickguard (Candy Apple Red model), two Jazz Bass control knobs (volume, tone), vintage-style adjustable six-saddle bridge with "floating" tremolo tailpiece, and vintage-style tuners. If you’re unfamiliar with baritones, this electric features E-E tuning (an octave below the guitar) which should make it an easy switch for guitarists. You can grab yourself one of these unique electrics in three flavors: Three-color Sunburst, Black and Candy Apple Red.
Way back in the early ‘70s during the peak of Fender’s creativity, this unique little one-off bass found its way to the real world sporting one single coil pickup, a short scale (30” to be exact) and a nice flashy racing stripe to round it out. Now thanks to the Pawn Shop series, its back. The racing stripe (one two of the three models) is back and so is the short scale but Fender has decided to give the Mustang Bass a lot more kick in the tone department thanks to the included humbucking pickup for some added thickness and growl! While you only have one pickup, one volume and one tone knob to work with, there are still plenty of tones you can ring up thanks to the middle positioning of the humbucker. And while a short scale neck might not appeal to some, it makes the playability of this Mustang much easier, especially for beginning bassists or guitarists looking to transition – but that’s not all the short scale brings to the table. Did you know that the scale length of a guitar or bass has a direct impact on its tone? The harmonics your bass guitar generates are spaced along the strings based on the length of the strings; shorter strings mean the harmonics are packed in tighter, giving any note you play more harmonic richness than a longer scale would. Just plug the Pawn Shop Mustang Bass into your bass amp and you'll hear what I mean; the notes will cut through the mix without becoming overbearing.
Other features include an alder body, "C"-shaped maple neck, 9.5"-radius rosewood fingerboard with 19 medium jumbo frets, four-ply white pearloid pickguard, two Jazz Bass control knobs (volume, tone) and a strings-through-body bridge with four adjustable saddles. You can grab a Mustang Bass in tree-color Sunburst, Candy Apple Red with stripe or – my personal favorite – Olympic White with stripe.
And finally, we have the Pawn Shop Super-Sonic. With a few modern touches, this electric resurrects an unusual, short-lived and increasingly collectible ancestor of the late 1990s: the Squier Vista Series Super-Sonic guitar. This is probably the most unique of the four new models and at the very least, the most distinctive. From its diminutive offset "reverse" body (resembling an upside-down Jazzmaster or Jaguar) and upside-down headstock to its short scale (24") and dual canted Atomic humbucking pickups (only the bridge pickup was canted on the original Squier models), this is definitely a one of a kind electric! The two Atomic Humbucker pickups will give players an aggressive yet wide-ranging tonal palette but thanks to the angle of the pickups, the Super-Sonic has a distinctive voice of its own. The pickups are angled to add some extra growl to the bass notes, and some extra edge in the treble registers just in case you’re wondering. Still though, thanks to the timeless recipe of an alder body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard, the tone is still 100% signature Fender. It should be noted that the neck pickup volume and bridge pickup volume (no tone control) are reverse-wired like the Squier original, meaning that the bridge pickup volume is the one closest to the bridge and the neck pickup volume is the one farthest from it.
Other features include a "C"-shaped maple neck with "bullet"-style truss rod, 9.5"-radius rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets, three-way toggle pickup switching and dual Jazz Bass control knobs, three-ply parchment pickguard, vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge, vintage-style tuners and new Super-Sonic four-bolt neck plate. You can snag yourself a Super-Sonic in one of three cool sounding finishes: Apple Red Flake, Dark Gun Metal Flake or Sunfire Orange Flake.