Review: Fender 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster

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Review: Fender 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Fender Music Australia | RRP: $3,799

It’s been 75 years since Fender was founded in Fullerton, California. Now the Fender Musical Instrument Company, Fender was, at that time, the Fender Electric Instrument Company, and as we all know, their hot streak with electric guitars and basses began in 1950.

Continual progression and constant refining of their original models led Fender to the Stratocaster being released in 1954, and the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster is where our story is today.

Read all the latest reviews here.

The 75th Anniversary Commemorative series boasts four of Fender’s most famous body shapes and designs, built out of their current US facility in Corona, California. We also recently reviewed the Ensenada-built Diamond Commemorative Series a few months ago, but the 75th Anniversary Commemorative are the pick of the litter, providing the best in Fender’s build quality, as well as showing off some of Fender’s best design and build ideas over the last 75 years.

Head to toe, the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster is an ash body, covered in gloss urethane and finished in a Two-Tone Bourbon Burst. A maple neck and fingerboard are bolted to the body with a commemorative neck plate, and locking tuners keep the whole thing in tune, aided as well by the two-point synchronised tremolo.

The two-point synchronised tremolo is Fender’s flagship tremolo system, offering unparalleled tuning stability on a fine edge and allows you to subtly modulate notes and chords without pulling the whole thing out of tune. This is helped along by the bone nut that secures the 25.5” scale length, and the locking tuners that bring function in the locks, while the pearloid buttons bring class.

As with all Strats, the machine heads are six-in-line, situated right next to the unassuming 75th Anniversary coin embedded into the back of the headstock, a subtle but attractive addition to compliment the ritzy gold hardware that makes up the bridge, tuners and tremolo bar. The neck plate bears the 75th Anniversary etching as well, the top corner rounded ever so slightly to accommodate the rounded neck heel that allows even easier access up to the 22nd fret and beyond if need be.

All of this function is amplified through three Custom Shop Fat 60’s pickups, the middle being RWRP (reverse wound, reverse polarity) to offer all those classic Fender tones, and I found myself directed straight through to the unabashed position two for that poppy, clean Strat sound.

In the hands, the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster is just about everything you would want from a Strat. It straddles the line between modern and vintage appointments, bringing the best of both worlds into one ultimately playable Stratocaster. The ash body is more common on Bursts and Blonde guitars because of the attractive grain. Ash also brings weight relief without sacrificing resonance, so the guitar as a whole feels and sounds balanced.

The satin neck is a more recent addition to Fender guitars after the demand for faster necks gave way to the sticky lacquer of days gone by, but the “C” shaped neck feels more vintage than Fenders more modern “D” and “Modern C” shapes. The frets are medium jumbo to bring more of a modern feel, while the Mint Green guard and Aged White Plastic knobs remind us of the swinging 60s, their colours simultaneously clashing and complimenting each other.

The 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster is everything you’d expect from a Californian-made Strat, and maybe everything you’d want if you ordered direct from their Custom Shop. The appointments span the last 75 years of innovation, augmentation and Fender’s continual forward march to create progressively refined instruments, but the guitar as a whole feels cohesive and complete.

This 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster, just like the rest of the 75th Anniversary Commemorative range, is a tip of the hat to Fender themselves. It’s a snapshot of guitar history, and to the players who’ve made the brand what it is today. The Series as a whole reflects the best of Fender’s entire range from Esquires to Meteoras, and they’ve really cherry-picked the best design elements and built it all into one instrument.

You’ve got locking tuners and pearloid buttons coupled with a C-shaped neck and handwound pickups, and it all works as harmoniously as you’d expect from Fender. The range as a whole is a fresh take on their designs that we’ve loved for decades, re-imagined and melded together for one ultimate Stratocaster. There’s something for every Fender player in the range, and there’s also offering for those who wouldn’t reach for a Fender immediately, maybe someone assuming they’re designed for vintage sound and feel.

Fender are progressively moving forward, and the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stratocaster is, in my opinion, their best yet. It’s everything I want from a Fender, and a lot of the things I look for in other brands as well. But that’s what Fender do, they listen to players want and need and provide. We’ve made the music, but they make the tools.

Explore Fender’s 75th Anniversary range in full here.