The last time we reviewed a Fender guitar it was the Fender American Performer Stratocaster. This time around, Fender is attempting to bring back their vintage sounds through a new line of guitars dubbed the Vintera series. We got our hands on the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster to check out what Fender is doing this time.
The Fender Vintera 60’s Stratocaster is supposed to bring that ’60s era tone without having to plunk down big money for a vintage guitar. Real vintage Fender guitars can be costly to purchase or costly to get into working order if you found one on the cheap. With the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster, you just need to order it, unpack it, and plug it in. Read on for the full review of the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster.
The Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster has the following features and specifications:
- Alder body
- Pau Ferro fingerboard
- Satin maple neck
- Three Hot ‘60s Strat single-coil pickups; neck/mid and bridge tone controls
- S1 switch adds neck pickup to positions 1 & 2
- “Modern C”-shaped neck with 9.5”-radius fingerboard; 21 medium-jumbo frets
- Modern synchronized tremolo
- Classic ’60s headstock
- 25.5″ scale length
- Bone nut
- Deluxe gig-bag
What’s In The Box
- Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster
- Fender Deluxe gig-bag
- Documentation and manuals
- Tremolo bar should have been included but was not in my box
Video Unboxing and Hands-On
The Stratocaster design is an icon among the guitar community. It’s been going strong and has even been copied since its debut in 1954. You can find dozens of not only knock-offs but other name brands that emulate the look of the Stratocaster. The Fender Vintera certainly holds all that is wrapped up in that iconic design and thrusts it front and center.
The first thing I noticed about the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster is the headstock. It brings back that era’s slim and beautiful headstock along with the logos and fonts used back in that day. If you look at Fender’s American Performer Series, you can see that the headstock is noticeably different and chunkier. My preference is that of the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster.
As for other design cues, everything else is pretty much spot-on Fender Stratocaster. The body is made of alder, which Fender says is a classic Fender tonewood. The body is supposed to give players a balanced sound with equal doses of lows, mids, and highs throughout.
The neck is a modern C style neck which helps with playability for most. Of course, there are guitar players who aren’t fans of the C style neck but that is what Fender chose for the Vintera. You have 21 medium-jumbo frets on the fretboard along with a 9.5″-radius on the fingerboard. This is another one of those preferences things. I like the 10″-radius offered on most PRS guitars, but I had no issues with the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster.
The nut is made of bone, two thumbs up for that, and the scale length is 25.5″. You have the classic pickguard that most Stratocaster guitars come with, and our review unit came in Olympic White with a gloss polyester finish.
You have your traditional Fender electronics layout with three single-coil pickups. These are new pickups for Fender that emulate that vintage ’60s sound. You have the five-way blade switch for flipping through pickups and your instrument cable jack. There is an S1 button on the volume knob that you can push in which adds the neck pickup to positions one and two. Finally, you have your tremolo system which is pretty standard for all Stratocaster guitars.
Overall, the design is basically the same iconic Stratocaster design. The headstock is, in my opinion, the best-designed headstock Fender has. The alder body feels nice along with that gloss polyester finish. All of the hardware feels nice and substantial, although the gig-bag could be upgraded for a semi-hard case at this price. This isn’t a custom shop Fender, but it feels miles nicer than a lower end Squire and the details in the build quality show that.
Out of Box Setup
Out of the box, the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster didn’t have too many issues but wasn’t perfect. The American Performer Series I previously reviewed was in perfect tune, but the Vintera needed tuning. Not that it’s a huge deal, it is normal for guitars to lose tune during shipment.
The action on the Vintera is a bit higher than what I like for my playing style. Because this is a review unit, I did not take it to my guitar tech to make adjustments. All of the electronics worked perfectly without issues. The one thing missing was the tremolo bar. All Stratocasters come with a tremolo system but for whatever reason, the Vintera was missing its tremolo bar. Not a massive deal for me as I don’t use the tremolo all that often.
The fretboard felt good, although I did have some drag when sliding my hand up and down the fingerboard. Most likely this is due to the Pau Ferro fingerboard needing some playtime to break-in. The American Performer series had a maple neck that had better playability and felt better overall.
There was no fret sprout, which there shouldn’t be considering this is a US$1,000 guitar. Fret sprout is the worst but can be dealt with on the cheap. If needed, it’s recommended to take it into a guitar tech to file the fret ends down.
Overall, this guitar was fair in terms of out of box experience for me. I felt the action was a bit higher than I like but that’s really a preference thing. The fingerboard definitely needs some working in to make it quick and slick. The tremolo bar was missing, but I’m sure that was just a minor oversight that Fender won’t be making with every one of these.
So, the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster is meant to emulate the sound of the company’s guitars from the ’60s. Fender has slapped three new single-coil pickups in this body which they call their Hot ‘60s Strat pickups. They’ve also added an S1 button in the volume knob that allows you to add the neck pickup to positions one and two.
There is no question that this is a single-coil Fender Stratocaster, you can tell that straight away. The pickups are definitely “hotter” than other Strats I’ve played giving the sound a bit more punch and grit. As for that ’60s sound, I think each person is going to have to decide for themselves if Fender succeded here.
I can tell that there is a tonal difference in the pickups compared to something like the American Performer Series, but it’s not a massive difference that most people would notice. You can probably get a similar tone using a nice tube amp and a few pedals. Still, I think some guitarists will appreciate what Fender is trying to do and they will find value in these new pickups.
As I mentioned before, playability is a little stiff at first. That fingerboard really needs a few runs to get used to your hands and for you to break it in. I think after a few good gigs and practices, this thing will play like butter.
Overall, the sound has a grittier, more driven tonality than other Stratocasters but it is subtle and likely not going to be noticed by most regular listeners. On the other hand, I think a lot of guitar players will love these new Hot ’60s Strat pickups on the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster.
The Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster is priced at US$999 which is slightly cheaper than the American Performer Series. The guitar is made in Mexico so it is a Mexi-Strat, and it’s very well made. I think the value is there. It sounds good and the new pickups and their tone will probably be the draw to this guitar.
The Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster is certainly a nice guitar and I enjoyed playing it. The tones are nice and the new pickups do a decent job of giving you that ’60s tone. I love the headstock on this guitar and wish the American Performer Series had this headstock. Still, for a hundred dollars more you could get the American Performer Series, which I think has better playability and better build quality than the Vintera. Of course, you won’t get those same pickups and the tone will be different. If it’s the tone you’re after, then the Vintera is the way to go.
*We received a review unit of the Fender Vintera ’60s Stratocaster for the purposes of this review.
Fender Vintera '60s StratocasterUS$999
- Still the iconic Stratocaster design
- Fantastic build quality
- Great materials used for the build
- Setup and action felt good
- No fret sprout, great playability
- Nice '60s era tones achievable
- Gig bag is cheap, a better case should be included
- Tremolo bar was missing on mine
- Getting the plastic off these is a pain