By Bridgette Baini
Fender Music Australia | Suggested retail price: $ 1,899
At this point in recorded history, the guitar (like all good subcultures), definitely has its fair share of cult heroes.
While this may immediately bring to mind images of Kevin Shields or Robert Johnson (guitarists whose reputation and importance to culture continue to seep outside the mainstream, but whose contributions can never be underestimated. -estimated), this same “ cult ” status can also be applied to important and influential icons in the equipment space itself.
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That goes for all the coveted parts and components, Bigsby Vibratos, Grover Tuners, Mastery bridges and quite possibly the greatest cult hero of all, the beloved P-90 pickup.
What makes the P-90 such an interesting case study has as much to do with its gestation as it does with politics and the inherently DIY nature of its rise.
Originally developed in the 1940s by Gibson for its jazz guitars and Hollowbodys, the P-90 was a slightly softer version of the single-coil pickups of the day, the midpoint of the obvious evolution between the traditional Gibson single coil “ blade ”. pickups and thick humbucker sounds that came to define the brand throughout the ’60s and’ 70s.
With the rise of the humbucker, Gibson relegated the P-90s to their budget models like the ES-330 and Les Paul Jr, both garnering their own cult following, but the dearth of options equipped with the P-90s and the uniqueness and desirability of the tone itself, has inadvertently spun the wheels for a whole slew of aftermarket P-90 installations and custom work with guitarists placing the beloved mic in anywhere. what body (or brand) they liked.
This brings us to the new Noventa range from Fender and its importance in space. Cleverly using the Spanish word for the number ninety, the “ Noventa ” range is undoubtedly inspired by this kind of Frankenstein creations with the Jazzmaster sporting three “ Noventa ” pickups inspired by the P-90, the Stratocaster with two and Telecaster with one.
It’s the Fender Noventa Telecaster that most instantly recalls those awesome homebuilds of yesteryear with its instantly vintage vibe, chunky cut body, unique minimalist pickguard, ’60s’ C’ shaped neck, vintage hardware. (including a Telecaster “Cut” bridge with brass saddles), and of course, the Fender Noventa single coil bridge pickup specifically designed for this version.
This beauty in Vintage Blonde has a gorgeous, slightly sheer finish, showcasing the beautifully and lightly figured alder body underneath, topped with a polyester shine. It has a unique appearance with its not quite Cabronita style select protector and almost teardrop shaped button plating.
Immediately while holding this guitar, I noticed and enjoyed the 60s ‘C’ shaped maple neck with a satin finish as it has an incredibly rugged feel, really filling the palm for a tight neck grip but a breeze. to slide thanks to the satin finish.
I felt a lot more comfortable playing heavier styles than I normally would on a telecaster in general, and to move that along, the chunky cut body responds to the sturdy feel. Its 9.5 inch radius maple fingerboard is described as “an ideal balance between vintage and modern playability” and it shows itself at ease for chords and also for more complex work.
The 21 medium jumbo frets allow for easy flex flex and mobility of the neck to really push up the fingerboard and the loose neck allows it to take a bit of a beating which is a fantastic thing as the Noventa is very force responsive with which you are playing.
For a single pickup, tone, and volume knob, this guitar is incredibly versatile, delivering a huge range of tones with noticeable saturation that only increases the harsher your attack gets.
This results in an extremely characteristic voice, but thanks to its intuitive tone potentiometer and the aforementioned tactile sensitivity, allows sufficient control over the amount of that character imparted to your clean sound.
This relationship between attack, gain, and saturation endemic to Noventa pickups, in many ways, reminded me of a lot of the types of gain-dependent saturation that you’re more likely to find in high-end studio preamps and compression workflows.
While standard single coils can lean towards harshness when played like this, the Noventas do only get hotter, overdriven, and compressed the more they are struck, resulting in a sound that is full bodied, warm and distinct at the same time. , with sufficient clarity. and chime to further appease the single coil brotherhood.
This ability to tame harsh transients also means that the Noventa Tele takes effects (especially mid-heavy effects like overdrive and chorus) like an absolute champ, its bridge position provides sufficient clarity and definition, while the soft, smooth voice is ideal for thick and driven tones.
Another really interesting touch is the fact that its classic and classic Telecaster bridge with brass saddles allows you to pass through the bridge or pass through the body of the guitar.
Either way, you get a nice, crisp sound and exceptional sustain, especially with its standard Fender screwed neck.
It’s not crazy to say that every guitarist should have at least one guitar equipped with a P-90 in their quiver. You never know when it’ll take you out of a creative corner or prove the perfect compromise when traditional single-coil and humbucker sounds just don’t cut it.
IIt is this application that is the natural home of the Noventa Telecaster, its unique tone, excellent ergonomics and high-quality components make it both a much-loved point of difference and the perfect middle ground for whenever tones of the garden variety just do not cut it.
With so many sonic advantages, don’t be surprised to see the Noventa series gain its own cult following in the not too distant future.
Learn more about the Noventa series via Fender Music Australia.