Review: 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster
11.03.2022

Review: 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster

screamadelica stratocaster review
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Fender Australia | RRP $2,199

Primal Scream are a Scottish rock band whose unique blend of dance and garage pushed them into the mainstream throughout the ’90s. Having moved through indie rock before progressing into a more electronic sound via psychedelic rock, the band’s 1991 album Screamadelica broke the band, sky rocketing them into the ears, eyes, and hearts of fans around the world.

Fender moves to pay tribute to this seminal record with the 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster, an Ensenada built Strat with an all-over red graphic of the Screamadelica artwork, including painted pickups and knobs. Primal Scream’s guitarists played a myriad of guitars throughout their almost 40 year history, spanning generations of players and a rotating roster of phenomenal guitarists since their beginnings in Glasgow in 1984.

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It’s because of this, that a Strat, one of the most versatile and inspiring instruments of modern times is the obvious choice to honour such a band. This Strat features a standard two-point synchronised tremolo and three vintage-style ’60s single-coil Strat pickups to take you back to Primal Scream’s roots in jangly guitar rock as heard on the band’s first album, Sonic Flower Groove. At its core, the 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster is a classic Strat, but a quick look under the hood reveals a little more.

Arriving safely in a deluxe gig bag, the 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster is a well finished, constructed and designed guitar for the modern player. Primal Scream themselves are a band with seemingly simple melodies and rhythms, but more focused listening reveals some really interesting counter melodies and harmonic choices. It makes sense then, that a Strat that pays tribute to their highly influential album would be more complex than at first glance.

The 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster feels great against the player’s body, and the construction is entirely unrestricting and allows fluid playing whether you’re delving into Primal Scream’s earlier, percussive and guitar-focused catalogue or their progressively house-y and psychedelic material. The ’60s style pickups are reminiscent of the wave of ’60s British rock that would’ve swept across the United Kingdom throughout the youth of the members of Primal Scream, making no other choice for a Strat splattered with their artwork to be subject to a similar influence. A modern “C” shaped neck feels fast enough for modern playing, but not as thin as high performance guitars, and places this Strat nicely in a middle ground of refined modern guitar and vintage throwback.

The 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster is an alder-bodied Strat, which combines warmth of a softer wood and firmness to help absorb and distribute those vibrations from the strings themselves. The pickups are secured into a custom painted pickguard which lines up with the custom Screamadelica artwork adorning the top of the guitar. The maple neck is attached to the body via a custom neck plate, which again shows off the Screamadelica artwork in all its glory. The fretboard is Pau Ferro, a wood that provides a snappier response than Rosewood without approaching Ebony territory. Bent steel saddles keep the strings in place at one end, while a synthetic bone nut holds them in line at the other. Six standard Fender tuning machines are a welcome addition, bucking the trend of vintage style tuners which can be fiddly to restring, especially in a hurry.

The pickups are controlled by three knobs and a five position blade, allowing every nuance of that great Strat tone to be harnessed, shaped and amplified to blistering levels. The finish is a gloss polyester that provides both a harder wearing finish to the guitar itself while also allowing the guitar’s body wood to breathe. Any other finish more vintage spec’d and the amazing Screamadelica artwork simply wouldn’t last.

The 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster really is a sight to behold. Primal Scream’s Screamadelica is a sound to behold, and Fender’s ability to seamlessly blend the best of vintage Fender with modern appointments and specs is unparalleled.

Primal Scream are a band known for melding everything they know into a mythical melting pot of influences, and the 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster does this just the same. It takes the best of Stratocasters over their first 20 or so years, as well as more modern specifications of recent models. The Screamadelica artwork adorning the alder body is brilliant as we know, while the Pau Ferro fretboard and modern tuners hold it all down and make the 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster a dream to play.

The vintage-style ’60s single-coil pickups preserve the warmth and spank of a classic Strat, and the five-position blade allows you to toggle between any of them at a time. Primal Scream’s 1991 Screamadelica is an opus of psych, rock, and electronic influences, and the 30th Anniversary Screamadelica Stratocaster pays tribute to all of that with ease. It’s aesthetically loud, but electronically and sonically controlled to allow you to create whatever soundscape it inspires.

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