Fender acoustic guitars can be found for an absolute bargain these days. They are generally very affordable, but certain models offer features normally reserved for guitars at a much higher price range. These features can include aesthetic appointments like pearl inlays on the fingerboard, or a lovely-sounding under saddle pickup system so you can plug in and play.
The Fender range of acoustic guitars has grown considerably in the past several years to compete with other big-name acoustic manufacturers, namely Epiphone. While not offering as many different options to the guitar player as Epiphone, I find myself both humbled and proud of the company’s excellent selection of acoustic guitars. I am confident that any reader of any playing style, budget and experience can find a guitar worthy of a place in their collection in Fender’s acoustic line.
Below, please take a moment to view our interactive table that allows you to easily compare some of the best Fender acoustic guitars on the market against one another.
Acoustic Guitars: Why You Want One
The acoustic guitar is your one-stop shop for songwriting. As a multi-instrumentalist, I often begin my songwriting process with an acoustic to track out recordings and write rhythm parts using chord progressions. Lyric writing happens at this stage as well, before adding any other instruments. Some people prefer to start their songwriting process at the piano bench, but this can be an unrealistic option for some.
For us apartment dwellers, turning the electric amp up to 11 is an unrealistic endeavor during the day. Furthermore, it’s difficult to play an electric and sing without a microphone and proper PA setup during the songwriting phase.
Picking up the acoustic guarantees that any sounds you make – the good and the ugly – stay within the confines of your studio apartment. I recommend that even the most dedicated metalhead pick up an acoustic.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling acoustic guitars currently on sale on the market.
But here’s the key question—why buy a Fender acoustic guitar? I find that Fender and their factories in the U.S. and abroad express a deep commitment to quality and constant improvement every new model year.
In this article, I’ve reviewed guitars under Fender’s three most popular lines – the Paramount, California and Classic Design lines of acoustic guitars. I found excellent instruments under each.
Generally speaking, you will find the following:
Paramount – Fender’s flagship acoustic line ($$$)
- All solid-wood construction. Essentially, if the back and rim-set features rosewood, it is 100% rosewood rather than a thin a laminate.
- Amplification included. Each Paramount Series guitar comes equipped with a Fender-designed Fishman pickup system.
- Bling. And I mean, bling! Each Paramount guitar features a high-gloss finish atop boutique features including pearl inlays, custom rosette and headstock overlay.
- Three types: Mahogany, Standard and Limited. More on this later.
- Each are available in three sizes: Dreadnought, Parlor and Triple-0. Think large-small.
California – Fender’s Roots ($$)
- Unique styles. The California series of instruments include traits such as sunburst finishes, figured tops and Stratocaster headstocks to portray the culture and lifestyle of Fender’s native California.
- Amplification included. Each Paramount Series guitar comes equipped with a Fender-designed Fishman pickup system.
Classic – Fender’s Classic Take ($)
- Solid tops. Back and rims are laminated material. Don’t fret; the top of the guitar dictates most of the sound anyway, not the back and sides. This is how Fender chooses to compensate for price.
- Amplification limited. Some models include a Fishman pre-amplification system for plugging in.
- Six types/sizes: Dreadnought, Concert, Parlor, Travel, Nylon and Bass. The latter three are not included in this rundown due to their relatively limited use.
What to Consider Most
Ask yourself: How does the guitar sound? Does it make you want to pick it up and play it again and again? Furthermore, how does it feel?
A guitar should be comfortable to hold. There are so many different shapes and sizes that, chances are, there is one perfectly shaped for you. It should be easy to play, even for newer players. Of course, the guitar should look incredible to you! Do you prefer a unique decorated look, or a soft-spoken classic looking axe?
All of these are objective, and all players will respond differently to each instrument. However, all purchasers should walk away feeling as if they have gotten a great value.
Is this going to be an instrument you want to play every day?
Do you have the money for it? Or, is it lacking in any of the aforementioned areas? Considering the Fender line in particular, these guitars are typically inexpensive. If you love it, you should feel confident that you are getting a great value.
One fact holds true: there has never been a better time to be a guitar shopper and owner. The Fender line continues to mature with age, like a fine wine. Without further delay, let’s get to it.
My Favorites From Fender
Let’s begin with the California T-Bucket 300CE.
California T-Bucket 300CE – $300
The T-Bucket lineup can be singled out of the crowd by taking a look at it’s unique headstock. It’s got an octagon-shaped profile with a beautiful vase inlay. Look broadly and you’ll notice a beautiful figured maple top. The model I played sported a sunburst finish that enhanced those beautiful folds in the wood. Overall, I found the guitar to be quite pleasant to play.
The sound was similar to the CD-60, albeit brighter in the trebles. The action was adjusted well, and lent itself well to bar chords and complex strumming. Again, I advise finger stylists to look elsewhere for a guitar that will enhance the subtle details in their playing, but the sustain was surprisingly impressive.
The California range includes the Fishman Isys III pickup system, which I must say is very impressive. I appreciated the opportunity to dial in on EQ before reaching toward the controls on the amplifier. Not to mention, I could tune the guitar without reaching for the necessary app on my smartphone. This is a great guitar for a rock ’n roller, and overall not a bad axe for the money.
Classic Design CD-60 – $200
I have reviewed the CD-60 in past articles before. If you are a brand new player, go pick one up. Truly, this guitar is outrageously cheap and easy to play. I also recommend this guitar for someone who isn’t exactly sure what their playing style is.
This axe features a solid spruce top, which is rare in this price range. I have recommended this guitar to new students for years because it is incredibly easy to play and affordable. The fretting hand won’t have a chance to grow tired, and newer players won’t become discouraged. Be sure to try out a few different styles for size.
Paramount Standard – $800
The Standard Paramount acoustics feature all-natural colors under a high gloss finish. I was quite smitten with the quality of the finish; truly flawless in execution. The neck profile on the two models I played (PM-1 Dreadnought and PM-3 Triple 0) seemed to feel a little bit “off.”
In other words, I found the instrument to become more difficult to play given my size in the upper registers. Please note that this will not necessarily be your experience, but us lanky long-armed fellas may find this to be the case with instruments from time to time.
That all being said, the tone was killer. I was truly surprised with the thumping bass on these two models. While the trebles were just short of that “shimmer,” I found it to sound very musical when playing complex chords.
Of course, any bar or power chords played sound bold and most excellent in a variety of styles. Priced at the bottom of the Paramount series, this is an excellent choice for an intermediate-advanced player looking to upgrade their rig.
Paramount All-Mahogany – $600
All-Mahogany guitars have a history of sounding bright, bold and loud. By definition (and name), the Fender All-Mahogany guitar is one of those rare instruments made entirely out of one type of wood. This gives the guitar a unique, unicolor look. This may be a turn-off to some, but Fender did a great job highlighting this instance as a feature with bold herringbone binding with all of the Paramount appointments.
Upon picking up the mahogany guitar, I notice that it feels substantial. It’s a heavy guitar, but not too heavy. I loved the feel of the PM-1 dreadnought; it feels serious. As a self-proclaimed serious player, I felt as if I was wielding a solid, formidable axe. Pun intended.
This guitar sounds like a bullhorn. It is as loud and boastful as legend has it, which lends itself well to us finger stylers. I would even be willing to take this guitar to a noisy campfire for some vocal performance! The trebles sit well in the mix, but may get in the way when playing with others. I appreciated the playability of this guitar, but it wasn’t as joyful to play as some others on this list.
The harmonic response isn’t what I expected, as well as the sustain. Overall, however, the $600 mark seems to fit this guitar perfectly. I would recommend this one to someone looking for one thing, and one thing only: an all-mahogany guitar. That person just doesn’t happen to be me; I’ll always prefer a dual tone instrument.
Paramount Limited Adirondack – $1,200 – $1,400
Fender gives you the option of choosing either a Mahogany or Rosewood back/side set with the coveted Adirondack top. Adirondack has been used in acoustic guitars for centuries, sought after for it’s stiffness/weight ratio.
When choosing between these two, I would suggest going with visual preference if they sound similar enough to you. They did to me. The light-brown of the mahogany will cost you $200 less than the creamy brown of the rosewood. Both are excellent options.
They both sound absolutely killer. I actually preferred the PM-3 versions (Triple-0) to their larger counterparts. A lot of sound made its way through those small bodies without sinking the bass frequencies. The playability was very good, and easily fretted for a variety of bar chords. Finger-tapping was easy, and the harmonic response superb.
Visually, these guitars are all around stunning. The high-gloss finished mahogany and rosewood is drool-worthy and all-around classic. Higher priced Martins feature these in their classic D-18 and D-28 models, respectively. I appreciated the inlay work on the fretboard, replacing the classic “dot” position markers with shell arrows. The headstock features an ebony/black overlay with a beautiful paua inlay. Overall, the Paramount Series includes stunning looks all-around, and wins my vote for best looks in the Fender catalogue of acoustic instruments.
The Fender line of acoustic instruments has been aging excellently. I had a ball playing through each series, as well as learning about each of their perks/niches. If you are in the market for an acoustic guitar, I would keep both eyes on Fender. Looking for a beginner instrument?
Look no further than the CD-60. Want something a little funky? The California Series is the groove for you. Time to buy your first brand-new car? My, what a Paramount success you’ve become.
When choosing between Epiphone and Fender – both in similar price ranges – I would suggest first looking at your budget. If you are looking at the Paramount series of instruments and comfortable with that price range, I would choose Fender over Epiphone.
Why? I appreciated the Paramount’s ability to offer a high-value guitar that is both elegant and refined. The inlay work is outstanding, as well as the choice of materials. It’s classic, yet reserved. Onlookers will see immediately that you purchased an upscale instrument, but the classic appointments would appeal to anybody. Epiphone builds an excellent acoustic guitar, but I find that their frills lose their luster after the honeymoon.
If you buy a Fender in the Paramount Series, it will be a timeless addition to your collection. Guaranteed.
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