Fender CD 320AS Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural

Fender CD 320AS Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar A straight-ahead Dreadnought, the CD 320AS offers minimal features, yet a great sound.

In some ways, this was a hard instrument to write about. This Dreadnought is built using solid mahogany for the back and sides, and solid spruce for the top. Fairly standard stuff. I kept digging for something that made this guitar exotic – a standout in some way, but alas, it was not to be. Even the neck-woods are impressively unexciting; a Mahogany back and Rosewood fretboard. Sigh…..

But in searching for interesting features, I overlooked the most important fact: the Fender CD 320AS sounds great. The Rosewood bridge offers a nice balance to the snappy spruce top. I’ve included a few videos here so you can hear for yourself. Chords are full and complex, while the overall tone has plenty of warmth. This 20-fret acoustic guitar may not have a lot of sexy features, but that simplicity is part of its charm. At 25.3″ (64.3 cm) scale length, the strings will be in that “goldilocks” zone: not too tight, but not too “mushy.” Overall, the CD 320AS is a very simple acoustic guitar that is not only sounds great, but comes at a very reasonable price.

Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40W 1×12 Combo Amp

Fender Blues Deluxe ReissueWant tweed? you got it. The Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue is a classic remake of the “Deluxe” amp that pretty much delivers as promised.

There is not too much mystery here: Fender’s Blues Deluxe Reissue is for Blues players. Of course there is a range of styles that could work fine, but in my opinion, Fender targeted Blues players. Aesthetically, this amp is what most will like: that classic “tweed” look. Sonically, it is mostly a clean amp that plays well with drive pedals.

The clean channel is super clean. If you want any grit, you’ll need to step on your favorite overdrive. It does lack bottom a bit, but for the most part, it’s not too bad, and the “bright” switch does add a nice sparkle to the top end. And the drive channel offers more gain. It won’t exactly put you into “shred” territory, but it is a notch above the clean channel. Both channels are footswitchable, and the drive channel has independent gain and master volume.

At 40 watts, there is enough power here for most rehearsal situations, but you might struggle when going head-to-head with a Marshall or other 100-watt amplifiers. The effects loop is a great feature that you don’t always find in a combo of this size.

Seems like the average price of this amp on all the big online sites is $769. That is definitely not a “budget” amplifier. But as it is in the sub-$1,000 range, you have to wonder: “where did they cut costs?” In my opinion, it’s the speaker. Any time I see something silly like: “Eminence special-design speaker,” I think to myself: “ok, they cut a deal with Eminence for some cheapo model. Also, I believe this model is assembled in Mexico, which is another way in which Fender was able to “pass the savings onto you” : – )

Overall, I’d say that the Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40W 1×12″ Combo Amp is a good choice for Blues, Pop, Funk, old-school R&B or Country. This is definitely not for heavy Rock, or Metal.

Fender Texas Specials Stratocaster Pickups really are Special

Fender Texas Specials
Fender Texas Specials

If you want a vintage Strat pickup that is extra hot, these pickups are seriously worth considering

It’s hard to believe that these pickups just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They first made their debut in January 1992 as the stock pickups in the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster. Not too long after, they became available as a standalone product. SInce then, they have become quite popular.

Keep in mind: these are Stratocaster pickup; they are dripping in Strat-ness. So again, not meant for situations where you need a humbucker. But if you are a Strat player, and the vintage realm is where you tend to spend your time, the Fender Texas Specials have a lot to offer.

What always impresses me so much about these pickups is the versatility. They do super-clean extremely well. But they also sound incredible with moderate amounts of gain. Granted, these are not meant for crazy amounts of distortion, so if you are a Metal player I don’t think these are the right pickups. But, if you play Blues, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Rock and Roll, Funk, etc… these pickups are quite versatile.

The clean sounds are second to none; plenty of snap, and twang, and bell-like chime. When you start to apply drive, all kinds of wonderful squeaks and squawks start to pop out of your amplifier. While they are vintage pickups (i.e. non hum-canceling). they are surprisingly quiet for vintage pickups. If you are considering upgrading your Fender Stratocaster pickups, and do not want hum-cancelling, Texas Specials are seriously worth considering. Take a listed to the videos below for a pretty good sampling of how they sound.

Fender Texas Specials Product Page

Search eBay for fender texas special

Reader Question: Strat Bridges and Claw Mounting Screws

Strat Claw

“Mark” Writes:

hello, to who this concerns:

can you please tell me the what’s and hows of the screws are on the tail of the bridge. ( hopefully to make it clearer. the screws, if you were putting them in, the thread of the screw is acing the neck and head of the guitar and the head of the screw is facing the rear of the body ).

i have some adjusting to make with the action and a need to adjust each string to the curvature of the neck. i have a pretty clear understanding of how to do this. but, have not yet gotten the idea of the screw in mention. i am sure that ounce i get to working on it i will have a clear understanding of the screws in mentions purpose. i just want to be very caeful as i cant afford to take my guitar in to the shop and pay the going rate on a project like this and of course cant afford to damage my guitar. i am pretty handy and i am sure that this is’nt beyond my ability. i feel better about asking the stupid questions rather than stress over it and or damage my strat.

thanks to all who provide this information on line to all of us in need!!!

sincerely,  mark

Our Answer:

Hi Mark, thanks for your question. The good news is: there’s not too much going on there. These screws hold in what is known as the “Claw”. That odd piece of metal is what the tremolo springs hang onto. I know this is all very obvious, but I just wanted to provide a little context.

So, all that said, the main effect that these screws have is on the tension of the tremolo bridge. When you loosen these screws, the bridge will tend to lean towards the neck. When you tighten these screws, the bridge tens to lean away from the neck, ultimately laying flush against the body. For the most part, you don’t have to consider these screws when setting your action; sting height will be mostly affected by the height of the saddles and the tilt of the neck. Adjusting these screws can make for a slightly more slinky (i.e. “loose”) feel, or more tension. There is a small range where you can tweak as you like to suit your taste, but too tight and you pull the bridge all the way back, and too lose, and the guitar will be pretty much un-playable. So, I recommend that you set your action as you need, and then you can tweak the claw screws. You’ll want to find that “Sweet Spot” that provides the kind of string tension that you are looking for.

Summary: Don’t concern yourself too much with these screws. Set them so that the your string tension feels right, and then pretty much leave them alone.

Fender Cyber Twin SE

Fender Cyber Twin SE
Fender Cyber Twin SE

Ok, so they pretty much invented the analog guitar amplifier. They perfected it and pretty much any guitarist would agree that few are better. So, why they heck would anyone use a Fender digital modeling amplifier? …’cause it’s a great amp, that’s why.

I’ll admit that I really resisted this stuff, I really really did. In principal, it just goes against everything I believe in. But then again, when the “Frying Pan” guitar was first put out by Rickenbacker, I’m sure it was met with the same disdain. Same for the Solid body electric, the Flying-V, The Explorer, the Parker Fly, etc… So, I decided to lighten up and just enjoy the amplifier and there is a lot to enjoy.

They certainly start off on the right foot with two 12AX7 groove tubes. In fact, I think they did it just to shut me up. Probably not, but I like to think so. You really have to find humor in the fact that when you switch between pre-sets, the knobs actually turn so that they physically match the saved settings. This is a bit much, and it introduces more moving parts than need be, but then again, why not… nobody ha anything repaired anymore, you just throw it out. So, what the heck, ok, moving knobs.

The “artist-authored” presets is a very cool feature that features saved patches from such noted ax-masters as Gary Hoey and Greg Koch. This is certainly a time-saver if you want to get started right away with some classic sounds. As far as volume goes, at 130 watts, this thing is ridiculously loud. It’s modeled after a Twin Reverb, so naturally, loud loud loud. It’s full stereo, so the patches can involve some very cool twin channel effects such as stereo chorus or ping-pong delay. There is also a hum reduction feature, which helps to minimize that annoying 50/60Hz buzz. pretty cool stuff here. You will need a small army to transport the damn thing, but if you happen to have such resources or you plan to just leave it in the house, this is an amp worth checking out, the sounds are actually pretty good.