Fender Redondo Classic
By Phil O'Keefe |
Fender Redondo Classic
An eye-catching acoustic with electric overtones
by Phil O'Keefe
Fender has been making acoustic guitars for quite some time, but for the most part they have not achieved the same level of success that Fender's electric guitars and amplifiers have. However, as they have done with their recently-released line of effects pedals, Fender has been taking steps lately to up their game in the acoustic guitar department. Proof of this can be found in the new Redondo Classic under review here. Part of Fender's California Series, it sets the bar a lot higher than any previous Fender acoustic guitar that I've tried. Let's take a look at the details.
What You Need To Know
- Fender's California Series guitars are designed in and inspired by California, and are made in China. The line is divided into three distinct categories and price points - Player, Special and Classic - each with three models (the small-bodied Malibu, medium-sized Newporter and larger Redondo) but with different features and appointments at each level. There's a Redondo Player ($399 "street"), Redondo Special ($699 "street") and Redondo Classic, with the Classic being the top of the line.
- The Redondo Classic is the largest bodied instrument in the California Classic lineup, with a Fender-exclusive "slope-shouldered" body shape that's roughly dreadnought sized, but that has a slightly different shape than other dreadnoughts.
- The body also has a cutaway on the treble side, which helps improve access to the highest frets.
- The Redondo Classic is available in two colors - Hot Rod Red Metallic and Cosmic Turquoise, which is the color of the guitar I was sent for review. The Cosmic Turquoise isn't identical, but it did remind me somewhat of Fender's classic Lake Placid Blue color. It's a cool metallic color that will look great under stage lighting.
- While the Redondo Classic's top is painted, the backs and sides are finished in clear, which really shows off the wood. The body's finish is done using gloss poly. The Redondo Classic uses solid woods throughout - in addition to the solid sitka spruce top, the back and sides are made from solid mahogany.
- The top is braced using quartersawn scalloped X bracing.
- The soundhole rosette is made from koa, as is the binding used on the top and back of the guitar. The wood binding and rosette look quite classy and distinctive, without being overly gaudy.
- The Redondo Classic's pau ferro bridge uses what Fender refers to as a "Modern Viking" shape. The bridge saddle is bone, and is compensated for improved intonation. The bridge pins are ebony with mother of pearl dots.
- The mahogany neck has a 25.6" scale length. The Redondo Classic has 20 medium jumbo sized frets.
- The Redondo Classic's headstock uses the Fender six in-line tuner layout and headstock shape. It sports a gold Fender "spaghetti" logo and a single string tree to increase down pressure at the nut for the high B and E strings.
- The Redondo Classic features a glossy painted headstock that matches the color of the body's top - another classic Fender visual touch.
- The tuners are sealed nickel inline models that resemble vintage Klusons.
- The fingerboard is pau ferro, which is starting to show up on more and more guitars as an alternative to rosewood, which has become more increasingly regulated in recent years. It's a bit lighter in color than rosewood, has a slightly brighter tone, and feels a bit harder (similar to maple or ebony) than a rosewood board, but it's a good substitute that isn't too far away visually or tonally.
- Maple dots are used for the position marker inlays on the fretboard. You'll also find dots on the side of the neck, making it easier to keep track of your position as you're playing.
- The satin-finished neck joins the body at the 14th fret and has a very comfortable "slim C" profile. Neck width at the bone nut is 1.69" (43mm), and the fingerboard radius is a fairly flat 15.75".
- The sound of the built-in electronics don't let you down when it's time to plug in, and help make the Redondo Classic a fully stage-ready instrument. The built-in PM preamp was designed by Fender and Fishman. The Redondo Classic features an under-saddle piezo transducer, and the preamp is equipped with volume, treble and bass controls that are mounted on the side of the guitar.
- A "tuning fork" button turns on the onboard tuner, which displays on a small backlit screen. The screen has a simulated "needle" to show you how sharp or flat you are, and the color of the screen turns from blue to green when you get the note into tune.
- The output from the guitar's output jack is muted when the tuner is turned on. An additional switch lets you flip the output phase or polarity, which can be helpful in reducing feedback in some situations.
- The battery compartment and output jack are located next to the strap button at the end of the guitar, and the battery can be changed without reaching into the guitar or using any tools.
- The Redondo Classic comes with a very nice "deluxe" Fender FA-620 padded gig bag. The bag has reinforcing rubber "bumpers" in a couple of locations, along with wide padded straps, multiple pockets to hold your straps, picks, spare strings and other accessories, and there was even a soundhole style humidifier included in the one I was sent for review - a nice accessory, considering the importance of keeping a solid wood guitar properly humidified.
- The heel of the neck of the review unit is strangely shaded; it doesn't really match the color of the rest of the neck (or the back of the body), and there are some small fluctuations in shading here and there on the otherwise very cool looking koa binding. This may only be an issue with this specific guitar and not something you'll find on other examples of the same model.
- While they're fairly easy to figure out, especially for more experienced players, there were no instructions included on the use of the built-in electronics.
- While the pickguard-free Cosmic Turquoise top looks great, since there is no pickguard you're likely to get some pick scratches in the top of the guitar over time - especially if you're a heavy strummer.
Having been somewhat less than impressed with some previous Fender acoustics, I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised by the Redondo Classic. The playing feel of this guitar is very electric-like, with its fast sleek satin-finished neck and flatter fingerboard radius. It's a very comfortable and easy guitar to play - especially by acoustic guitar standards. The cutaway also makes it easy to reach the upper frets. It doesn't disappoint sonically either, delivering big-voiced un-amplified acoustic tones that easily compete with anything in its price range. And it came well set up and ready to play right out of the box, requiring no adjustments whatsoever. That's always appreciated, although the shading of the neck heel was somewhat disappointing - hopefully that is just a one-off issue that applies only to this specific guitar.
The overall look of the Redondo Classic is obviously a matter of opinion, but I think it's a striking looking guitar without being overly flashy. With its onboard electronics and distinctive visual appeal it would be right at home on stage, but it's acoustic tone makes it suitable for home practice and recording purposes too. Whether this is your first acoustic or one you're considering as a step up from a beginner's guitar, or even if you're a seasoned player who just wants a reasonably affordable all-solid wood guitar, you'll be impressed with what the Redondo Classic has to offer.
This is the nicest Fender acoustic that I've ever played - it's an impressive instrument. If you've been less than impressed with some of Fender's previous offerings, you should check out the new Redondo Classic - it's definitely a significant step up, and shows that Fender is serious about upping their game in terms of their acoustic guitar offerings. -HC-
Want to discuss the Fender Redondo Classic or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Acoustic Guitar forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
Fender Redondo Classic ($799.99 "street")
Fender's product web page
You can purchase the Fender Redondo Classic from:
Direct from Fender
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.