Fender Powercaster has a secret weapon
The Powercaster does have a secret weapon, but it's unknown at this point whether this will get people to actually buy it.
Before I say what that secret weapon is, yeah, the Powercaster is a mishmash of a bunch of different Fender designs. Jazzmaster, Jaguar and Stratocaster for the most part - but the body is totally new.
I do like the fact the neck is roasted maple. This actually works really nicely with the pau ferro fingerboard, gives this guitar a nice overall appearance that separates it from other models, and gives Powercaster its own true identity in the Fender lineup.
Okay, on to that secret weapon.
The Powercaster has a 24.75" scale length. Yes, like a Gibson. That's the secret weapon for this guitar that nobody is talking about, but should. That shorter scale length makes a huge impact on how the guitar feels in the positive direction. However, there are two things working against this guitar even with that oh-so nice shorter scale length.
First is price. It's not cheap. The price is dangerously close to American models yet does not come with a hardshell case. Only a gig bag. And it's not made in the USA either. Mexico build.
Second is the Fender Atomic Humbucking bridge pickup. This is well known to be a "rock" pickup, meaning you're not going to get any traditional Fender tones out of the Powercaster whatsoever. The MP-90 neck pickup is good, this I know. But that bridge pickup is only good for rock and basically nothing else.
What would I change?
I would swap out that Atomic for a Fender Wide Range Humbucker, and ditch those crappy Jazz Bass knobs for Telecaster metal knobs with knurled sides.
The Wide Range does two things. It's much more civilized than the Atomic, and the chrome cover with Fender logo on it just looks cool.
The Telecaster metal knobs are far superior to the Jazz Bass knobs in every way. They feel better, are much nicer to the touch and very easy to adjust. And they would match up better with the Powercaster's bridge and tailpiece besides that.
Will the Powercaster be a hit?
It's nice that Fender released something truly new and different.
It's also nice that yes, there is something in a shorter 24.75" scale version that a lot of players will very much like.
Ultimately, what will make or break this guitar will be the Atomic pickup. Having that shorter 24.75" scale is great on a Fender, but the sound is what matters first.
Hopefully, the Atomic is voiced right for the Powercaster. I've only heard a few quick demos of this guitar since it's so new at the time of this writing. Said honestly, what I have heard did not sound that great. But maybe in the hands of the right players it can sound really good. Time will tell.
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