Reviewed: Fender Brad Paisley Signature Esquire

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Reviewed: Fender Brad Paisley Signature Esquire

Words by Bridgette Baini

Distributed by: Fender Music Australia | Expect to pay: $2,699

Brad Paisley’s career as a multiple-Grammy-Award-winning country music superstar has always been closely intertwined with his beloved Fender Esquire. Now, Fender have released a refreshing new take on their original “one pickup wonder” workhorse from the ’50s with a unique appearance and brand-new “stealthy” pickup in collaboration with Paisley. Needless to say, this Esquire is unlike any before it. 

It has a ‘Road Worn’ aesthetic, with Black Sparkle lacquer, nitrocellulose finish, and aged hardware, giving it a classic “broken-in” look with a twist. Brad claims “as a West Virginian” he likens this Black Sparkle finish to someone who’s just been mining for coal with [the] guitar”, the finish is “half diamonds, half coal”.

Having released his Road Worn Telecaster with Fender in the past, this isn’t Paisley’s first rodeo. However, despite the striking similarities between the Telecaster and the Esquire, the Brad Paisley Esquire has much to offer in the way of innovation and versatility. 

While it may appear to only have one single coil pickup to the untrained eye, in reality, it has two. A distinctive feature of the Esquire is its one bridge pickup, so some may ask then what the difference would be between Paisley’s Esquire and a telecaster. But alas, this is not your average neck pickup. 

Earlier in August 2020, Paisley announced his collaboration with Seymour Duncan on a “stealthy” new signature pickup called the Secret Agent. Paired with a Fender custom-wound ‘64 Tele single-coil at the bridge, his “stealthy” pickup sits underneath the pickguard.

The Secret Agent provides the tonal options of a telecaster while maintaining the appearance of an Esquire; moreover, there’s less magnetic pull on the guitar’s strings which means that the bridge pickup maintains the classic sustain of an esquire.

According to Seymour Duncan the “stealthy” pickup offers a “full, warm, almost jazzy neck-pickup tone, complementing the Esquire bridge pickup’s bark and snarl”. Paisley is quick to point out that it supports the overall dimensions of the Esquire and that this configuration allows for the ultimate flow and sustain. 

It also features a medium-output ceramic bar magnet and in combination with the ’64 single-coil, meaning you not only get sweet, dulcet tones from the neck pickup, but also the more punchy, aggressive tones often attributed the Esquire, which is a perfect for twang. In fact, Paisley mentioned that in terms of twang, this guitar was “taking it up another level”.

Its body’s core consists of unique Paulownia tonewood, and in combination with spruce top and back, it gives this electric solid body guitar an “acoustic-like” resonance. Its glossy maple fingerboard makes slides and bends a breeze to cater for more than just country-style playing. 

Brad Paisley’s career has spanned over 20 years, boasting 3.9 billion on-demand streams, 24 No. 1 hits, and three Grammy awards. What is so invigorating to see is how involved and excited Paisley is about this release, how committed he was to innovating such an absolutely classic guitar by cooperating with Seymour Duncan and Telecaster.

It still maintains the classic feel, with its Road Worn finish and hardware, including 3-Saddle Vintage-Style Strings through Body Tele bridge with Brass Barrel Saddles, and Vintage-Style tuning machines. Country music isn’t for everyone, but this guitar could quite possibly be.

Head to Fender to find out more today.