In 2016 Fender expanded their foray into acoustic guitar production with the launch of the Paramount Series. A line of acoustic guitars developed to harness difference-making design traits, with fresh new features and inspiring aesthetic touches, bringing new life to the tradition of unadulterated acoustic sound. While the Limited, Standard and Deluxe models are equipped with preamps, the PM-1 Standard Dreadnought All-Mahogany NE is one model that does without – guided by a ‘less is more’ approach that makes it the most intriguing guitar out of the bunch.
The word ‘classic’ pervades every inch of this guitar’s construction. Solid mahogany back and sides, headed by a solid open-pore mahogany top give the impression that the PM-1 Dreadnought NE was cut flush out of the tree from which it came. The deepness of the earthy mahogany and its dotted grain provide the body with a natural semblance that is quite the sight. Matching the organic finish is a rosewood fingerboard and mahogany neck. A black-and-white checkerboard purling offsets the deep mahogany of the body for an old school dose of character and vintage charm. The aesthetic appeal of the PM-1 Dreadnought NE is that it has a truly realised identity, solidified by the traditionally inspired headstock - a throwback to Fender’s acoustics of the 60s. Add to that the one-ply tortoiseshell pickguard and you have a guitar that, at least aesthetically, has been nailed every step of the way.
The Dreadnought shape makes for a large body, yet the PM-1 Dreadnought NE is extremely light in hand thanks to the open-pore finish. It all depends on which body shape you are suited to best, but coming from a guitarist who rarely plays Dreadnoughts, I found it more comfortable than most, and a body that you could really lean into and fully embrace. The neck on this acoustic is a Modern C, equipped with vintage-style sized frets. The narrow stature of these frets promote accuracy to pinpoint expression and articulation; the Modern C neck is smooth and satisfying, paving the way for chord voicings, versatile fingering and expansive playing.
Mirroring the organic nature of the guitar’s design is a tonal range that is direct, resonant, unadulterated and naturally warm. The low-end isn’t bellowing or dense, but rather full, spherical and resolute. Highs, on the other hand, have a melodic sweetness and a tangible clarity. Together they form a balanced tonal output – one that leans ever so slightly to the low end – but is made dynamic by the fact that each string projects sound with pure articulation.
The natural tone and articulation of the PM-1 Dreadnought NE make it a blank canvas for which guitarists can project their very own sound. By approaching the design and construction with a clear idea in mind, Fender have been able to showcase the beautiful simplicity and refined subtleties of expert craftsmanship.
Hits and Misses
The vintage look is simply stunning, with the open-pore mahogany a big winner
Nice and natural tone will suit a plethora of playing styles
Comes with a solid and sturdy hardcase
The absence of a cutaway may be a deal breaker for some