Review: Fender Joe Strummer Campfire Acoustic Guitar

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Review: Fender Joe Strummer Campfire Acoustic Guitar

Words by Bridgette Baini

Fender Music Australia | RRP: $899

Like the man himself, the Fender Joe Strummer Campfire acoustic guitar is small in size but big in spirit. A travel-sized acoustic tribute to the iconic frontman of The Clash, it’s both utilitarian and powerfully voiced, serving as the perfect songwriting tool and high-quality travel guitar all in one.

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Fender have designed this stylish acoustic in collaboration with the Strummer Estate to commemorate the legendary campfires held by Strummer personally at Glastonbury Festival prior to his passing. These campfires were centred around inclusivity, togetherness and the power of the human spirit are still held annually in the Strummerville area at the famed Glastonbury grounds.

Now, thanks to the team at Fender, you can keep the flame alive with this fitting tribute, letting you bring the proverbial festival flame into your home, out on the streets, on stage or even to the Strummerville area at Glastonbury Festival. 

This stylish, Malibu-shaped acoustic body sports a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides, coated in a Matte Black finish and bound with a gorgeous aged white binding. It’s topped with a gold Fender logo on the headstock front, and Joe Strummer’s signature in gold on the back, while nickel hardware, including sealed nickel tuning machines down its tilt-back headstock, and star fretboard inlays complete the package.

The Joe Strummer Campfire also boasts a Fishman pickup and electronics with controls for a tuner, bass, treble and volume, and includes a deluxe padded gig bag with a camouflage Fender logo and back straps so you can take the Fender Joe Strummer Campfire acoustic anywhere with you. 

Even removed from its Clash associations, the Joe Strummer Campfire acoustic has an appealing and unique appearance that is all it’s own. The combination of tilt-back headstock and petite, parlour-sized body gives it a very modern, wiry look for an acoustic.

In fact, if you were to visualise what a punk acoustic guitar might look like, this would probably be it, with its Black finish and Strat-inspired headstock only driving home the aesthetic. This aforementioned headstock isn’t just for looks either: its design also increases the break angle over the nut, allowing for better sustain and tuning. 

The wooden Modern Viking bridge is another classy touch for this unique guitar, while the stars inlaid on its 15.75″, mahogany fingerboard make for a very cool finish. The unique combination of neck and bridge makes for some incredibly comfortable action, perfect for easy chord work and um……Strumming. 

Let’s be honest, if you find yourself playing guitar by a bonfire, chances are, you may be a little drunk. Honestly, with such a considerate fretboard layout; 20 frets, 24.1″ scale length, slim “C” profile with a satin urethane finish, the Joe Strummer Campfire will probably be the easiest acoustic guitar to play in any condition, be it sober or… Not so sober. I found it great for smashing out ideas and toying with songwriting m0tifs, as it was very accommodating for easy finger placement and rhythm work. 

There has obviously been a lot of consideration put into this one on Fender’s end and it really shows, both in the tasteful, fitting design and in the remarkable level of playability.

The way the Campfire feels in hand rivals some of the better small bodies acoustics I’ve played, and just in case your humble campfire turns into an impromptu 10,000 seater show, there’s a fully usable Fishman pickup that boasts a subtle but extremely flexible panel complete with an LED screen to display the in-built tuner function. There are also control knobs for volume, bass and treble, a very nice but unsurprisingly thoughtful addition. 

Given its size, it also doubles as a perfect songwriters guitar, with just enough natural volume for vocals to be heard audibly but still with enough bassiness to allow for rich voicings and walking bass notes.

The solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides are designed to give strength, and emit a dynamic range and full-bodied sound. Spruce being well known for opening up over time, you can expect the Joe Strummer model to age like a fine wine, sounding better with every passing campfire.

Overall, this is a really exciting and tasteful release. The black aesthetic will certainly go with anything and it’s compact, versatile and has a great tone given it’s demure body type and small Malibu-style body.

Perhaps its biggest strength of all that it is simply a pleasure to play and in that regard would only bring good vibes to any Glastonbury campfire, as far as I can see. 

For specs and further details, head to Fender’s website.