Review: Fender Noventa Series Stratocaster

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Review: Fender Noventa Series Stratocaster

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Fender Music Australia | RRP: $1,999

Contemporary garage rock is giving single coil pickups a resurgence and influencing the way we play, sound and buy. Companies like Fender are listening, and have recently unveiled the Noventa Range, an entirely re-modelled Fender range that feature newly-designed Fender MP-90 pickups across a variety of body shapes.

Read more guitar, amp and pedal reviews here.

P-90s are the fattest and darkest of most single-coils available, utilising wide winds to do away with the sometimes fragile and super articulate sounds that more standard single-coils can provide. All the guitars in the Noventa range are finished in retro-styled colours and finishes, and play and feel reminiscent of their wildly successful Vintera range of guitars.

The Noventa range is designed for the modern player chasing modern sounds, but who may feel more at home on a vintage spec’d guitar. The entire range features Fender’s classic and comfortable body contours, neck shapes and designs. If you’re a fan of Fender you’ll find a body shape and design, a guitar that is spec’d to fit your needs whether it be offset or more classic electric stylings.

Here we’ll be discussing the Noventa Stratocaster, a two-pickup equipped Strat available in Crimson Transparent Red, Daphne Blue or this finish specifically: Surf Green.

Beneath the gloss polyester is an alder body, bolted to a maple neck with a maple fretboard. The neck has a 9.5” radius so it feels more vintage than anything, and the vague aged maple of the neck and board is also reminiscent of older Fender guitars. The back of the neck features a nice satin finish, so your chords won’t stick like when sliding around on lacquer, and the board offers the classic bright punch that maple provides.

The pickups are “Fender Noventa Single-Coil” and they provide that impossibly fat, dark P-90 sound. This guitar is a hardtail, so there’ll be no wailin’ on a two-point tremolo done here, but the 21 medium-jumbo frets feel nice beneath the strings so you can do your vibrato and bends comfortably.

The 25.5” scale length is standard Fender Strat, and you’ll feel at home immediately, gliding around the fretboard with ease. The pickguard is classic 3-ply mint green, which is offset nicely against the Surf Green.

The Noventa Strat features Fender’s classic vintage style tuners and a synthetic bone nut that helps keep the guitar in tune even while bending and tremolo picking, the kind of playing that a P-90 equipped, Surf Green guitar inspires.

In the hands, the “Modern C” is comfortable and a welcome relief from some less comfortable vintage neck shapes. The neck is thin enough for you to get shreddy if you need to, but there’s still enough for you to grab ahold of for rhythms and big riffs. Riffs are probably where this guitar shines the most, the Fender Noventa Single-Coils offering a dark, compressed tone whether you’re in the neck or bridge position, or both if you’re in the middle of the three-way switch.

The bridge can be brittle in the best way, providing a present, formidable lead presence across the frequency spectrum. The neck position pushes the low mids a little further and the attack of the notes seems to shift slightly, offering a darker, bluesier tone. The middle position is both, providing fatness without mud, and articulation without harshness.

The Noventa Stratocaster feels like a workhorse guitar, offering both garage-y crunch and smooth, steamin’ blues in the one guitar. The Fender Noventa Single-Coils provide a wide array of sounds, dependant on your picking and playing style, offering a myriad of tones and colour even before the signal reaches your pedals or amp.

The Noventa is a tribute to Fender’s ability to build high quality instruments at very affordable prices, that highlight features their audience has been asking for and moving towards. The Noventa series as a whole, whether it be a three-pickup Jazzmaster or single-pickup Esquire-esque Telecaster provide a tool for a sound that can’t be achieved with every instrument.

The range provides a specific tonal colour and texture, and could be used as a secret weapon, if you will. P-90s were some of the first pickups ever used in electric guitars in the 1940s and there’s a reason they’re still being used in modern guitars, let alone a brand new series for 2021. They’re the sound of classic rock, and provide girth and ‘oomph’ where standard single coils lose out.

Humbuckers can be overkill, and the P-90 fill the gap, enabling a sound that’s not quite single-coil nor humbucking, but entirely it’s own beast. This Noventa Stratocaster specifically represents the best of the Ensenada Fender factory in Mexico, and begins to bridge a gap into quality control far beyond the price tag.

For fans of classic style and a massive palette of sounds to choose from – the Noventa Series as a whole may be just the new guitar for you.

Shop the Noventa range over at Fender’s website today.