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Fender Limited Edition Pete Townshend Stratocaster sucks

Fender Limited Edition Pete Townshend Stratocaster

I saw this monstrosity appear in my inbox, and here are my thoughts on this guitar.

There are some signature Fender guitars that are genuinely very good instruments like the Eric Johnson Stratocaster, but then there's awful junk like the Pete Townshend Stratocaster.

I almost don't even know where to begin with how bad this guitar is.

Well, firstly, this is not the worst signature Strat Fender makes. A current example of awful at the time I write this is the Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster. That thing is just junk. The Townshend Strat isn't as bad as the Hendrix Strat. But there's several things about the Townshend Strat that make it suck.

Here's all the things that make the Townshend Strat suck.


Terrible. Torino Red body with a super-white pick guard (and I mean that as all 3 plies are white,) no tint on the neck and that ridiculous extra knob behind the bridge makes this thing look like a kid's toy.

This guitar reminds me of the Strat Plus style models from the '90s, except much, much worse.


This is where things get real stupid real fast.

The Townshend Strat has both regular (or rather semi-regular) pickups with use of Lace Sensor Gold Strat pickups. I don't have a problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is the "two-post Fishman Powerbridge tremolo bridge." Yes, that is how Fender describes it. This allows the guitar to produce acoustic-style sounds. And this of course requires a stupid battery to make that work.

Where does the battery go? Here:

Fender Pete Townshend Stratocaster rear

Yes, Fender managed to make both the front and the back of this guitar all sorts of ugly.

There's also a TBX tone control on this guitar. Bad combo when mated to the Lace Sensor Gold pickups. Why? Not necessary at all. The Sensors have more than enough treble response on their own. If anything, there should have simply been an option installed to bypass the tone control entirely, but this guitar sucks, so there's no such option.


Just plain weird.

The spec sheet on Fender's web site states 21 frets but I see 22.

The neck shape is "Soft V," which is a vintage style shape, yet has a modern 9.5-inch radius fingerboard.

The nut width is 1.65", which is vintage style.

The fret size is tall/skinny vintage style.

The neck plate has a micro-tilt adjustment.

Summed up: A very weird half-modern/half-vintage neck with a useless micro-tilt adjustment and frets that are guaranteed to buzz out with the slightest note bend.

A bunch of bad ideas rolled into one guitar

You know those guitars sold by morons on eBay that claim any change done to a guitar is an "upgrade?" That exactly describes what the Townshend Strat is. This guitar is full of "upgrades" that do nothing but screw a Strat up, make it play terribly and sound like absolute crap.

If you want an example of different and good, see the Fender Offset Telecaster. Great guitar. Simple electronics and a very good player's instrument.

As for the Townshend Strat, however... junk. Just about every single bad idea you could put in a Strat is present in this guitar.

For a signature Strat, the Townshend model is just plain embarrassing. Avoid it.

Published 2016 Jul 15

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