Fender American Performer series guitars
Fender just released a new line of American guitars, the Performer series. Nice for what they are, but there are some models better than the rest.
Here's my overview:
Worst of the lot is the Jazzmaster. That may sound odd coming from me since I like the Jazzmaster guitar, but believe me, I have a good reason. It has a Stratocaster bridge on it, and a Stratocaster back plate too. The guitar is just plain weird. Fender should have just kept this one as a hardtail top-loader.
After that Jazzmaster, things get better.
The Mustang is cool. Really cool, actually. My only knock against the guitar is the fact Fender decided to eliminate the pickup slider switches and instead put in a 3-way toggle pickup selector. I can forgive that however since the rest of the guitar is just plain great. This is an "affordable" American short scale and it's done right.
The best part of the Strat is the return to a 6-screw bridge. I've never liked the 2-point. The styling is great, the choice to use the "transition" silver Fender logo is cool, and this guitar gets it right all around. My only knock against this one is the use of 2 string trees. Minor nitpick at best, however.
On the HSS Strat, Fender smartly offers this guitar with a push-pull knob to switch the humbucker to a single-coil and back again. Very nice. Good choice.
For the Tele, there's really not much I can say other than yeah, it's a good Tele and I dig the '70s styling of it. It's the same simple guitar it's always been, and that's what makes it great.
The Tele Hum however is the winner of the lot. The Vintage White looks absolutely fantastic. This one having the humbucker at the neck really captures that '70s custom Tele vibe. The guitar thankfully does not have the ability to switch the humbucker to single-coil - and believe me, that is totally correct. A humbucker at the neck position in a Telecaster should be "all humbucker," and this one is. You get the knobs with knurled sides, you get the brass saddles, you get the great tuners, it's all there.
Are these guitars just rebadged American Special series?
No. There are changes to each model so that all of them are actual new-model guitars.
My only confusion here is that Fender now has this odd thing going on where the Performer and Professional series are quite literally only $350 apart from each other in price.
What this has done is cheapen the Professional Series. You see the Performer Series, then see a Professional Series, then notice the $350 difference between the two (which is not a lot,) then wonder if the Performer is too expensive or the Professional is too cheap...
...and both those thoughts are correct. Performer should have had a price of $999 to put a $450 difference between it and the Professional, because $350 is just too close.
Performer Series are all great guitars, but the goof was in the pricing structure. If Fender knocks back Performer by $100 to a $999 price point, that will give the proper price point gap between models and make them all winners.