Music Industry How To is supported by readers. When you buy via a link on our site, we’ll possibly earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.
There are few guitars that are as recognizable as those created by Fender. Even non-musicians are familiar with Fender, which is a testament to the importance of the company overall.
Fender has continued to improve upon their designs while also offering a hint of modernity for those who need it. The company has a massive offering for today’s guitarists, and the following are some of the best for southpaw players.
Fender Player Telecaster – Best Overall
The Telecaster is one of the few examples of an initial creative design that got it right the first time. For decades, the Telecaster has been a glaring example of the exquisiteness of simplicity.
With the Fender Player Telecaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon), you’ll get an affordable Telecaster in all of its simplicity. This Mexican-made guitar might be affordable, but it certainly doesn’t play that way.
For the most part, this is a standard, garden-variety Telecaster with a few exciting details. If you want a Telecaster with all of the frills, this isn’t the model you’re looking for.
This guitar sports an Alder body, a Maple neck, and the option of either a Maple or Pau Ferro fretboard. The neck itself has a smooth satin finish, with a hint of lacquer applied to the Maple fretboard.
Standard Fender specs are featured throughout, including:
- 9.5” fretboard radius
- 25.5” scale length
- Modern C-shape neck contour
- 22 frets (which is a modern upgrade)
- Die-cast sealed tuners
- Modern bridge with block saddles for each string
This guitar packs a punch with its iconic Telecaster tones provided by Alnico V single-coils produced for the Player Series. These seem to have slightly more output than their vintage ancestors but are perfect for any musical setting.
Lefties get to pick from a range of classic colors, including:
- Polar white
- 3-tone sunburst
- Butterscotch blonde
Fender American Vintage II 1951 Telecaster – Best Premium
While this might be more affordable than a Custom Shop guitar, it’s one of Fender’s most expensive offerings. This is essentially a faithful reproduction of the original Blackguards from 1951, without the Custom Shop relic job.
As such, the American Vintage II 1951 Telecaster features:
- Ash body
- Maple neck (crafted from 1 solid piece) with a vintage U-shape contour
- Maple fretboard with 21 frets
- 25.5” scale length
- 7.25” fretboard radius (which matches its vintage counterpart)
- Bone nut
- Vintage-style ashtray bridge with a 3-saddle design using brass barrels
- Fender Deluxe Pure Vintage tuners
For electronics, Fender got it right by installing a pair of Pure Vintage ’51 single-coil Tele pickups in the guitar. These have a hint of warmth with slightly less output than today’s standard models, providing that classic twang.
As you would expect, this Telecaster comes with a 3-way switch and a knob for volume and tone.
You’ll also get a hardshell case with the guitar, which features crushed velour to keep the guitar safe.
This is about as close as you’ll get to a vintage guitar (or a Custom Shop job) without the cost. Fender has even used a nitrocellulose finish to ensure that the guitar is as authentic as possible.
Fender Newporter Player – Best Budget
If you’re wanting a Fender for less than $500, you’ll have to look to their offerings of acoustic guitars. The Fender Newporter Player (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a solid offering for any performer.
This acoustic guitar features a classic design, featuring a cutaway body style combined with a traditional Fender headstock shape. Its body is crafted from Mahogany, with Solid Sitka Spruce used for the guitar’s top.
Mahogany is also featured in the neck’s construction, offering a slim C-shape contour for increased playability. The fretboard is made of Walnut, with a radius of 15.75” and 20 easily accessible frets outlined by dot inlays.
For hardware, the Newporter Players features:
- NuBone nut
- Laurel bridge
- Sealed Nickel tuners
Where the Newporter Player starts to add additional value is in its inclusion of a Fishman pickup and preamp system. With this, you’ll be able to plug in and play anywhere, with the following features provided for your convenience:
- 2-band EQ
- Volume control
- Built-in tuner
Fender guitars are often iconic in both design and color options, and this guitar is no different. This guitar is decked out in a fabulous Candy Apple Red with an aged white binding and a gold pickguard.
For the most part, the Newporter Player is worthy of consideration for any intermediate player with performance needs. It provides tradition with a subtle modern twist for anyone looking for something a bit unique.
Fender American Ultra Stratocaster
Are you searching for a Stratocaster that has all of the modern and innovative features of Fender’s high-class guitars? The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is the guitar you’re looking for.
Many guitarists consider this to be one of the best Stratocasters that Fender has produced in recent years. It features traditional specs (such as an Alder body, Maple neck, Maple/Rosewood fretboard), perfected with a blend of modernity.
The upgrades on the American Ultra Stratocaster can be seen throughout its build, which include:
- Modern D-shape neck contour
- Compound fretboard radius of 10”-14”
- 22 frets
- Bone nut
- Sealed locking tuners
- Fender Deluxe 2-point synchronized tremolo system
Fender has also provided the very best in electronics, offering a trio of Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat single-coil pickups. A standard 5-way switch, volume knob, and a pair of tone knobs are included.
Another upgrade here is Fender’s inclusion of an S-1 switch, which provides unique pickup combinations involving the neck pickup. This significantly increases the range of tones beyond the classic Strat sounds you’re familiar with.
For the most part, this is the Stratocaster in its most evolved state. If you’re tired of tradition (and all the pitfalls of outdated designs), this guitar is everything you’ve ever wanted.
A hardshell case does come with the American Ultra Stratocaster, which is a definite plus.
Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster
What do you do when you’re not sure whether you want an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar? The Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) presents a unique solution to this problem.
This is essentially an acoustic guitar that has been crafted to the shape of the iconic Telecaster. And, while it does provide those classic acoustic tones, its electric capabilities will likely surprise you.
The American Acoustasonic Telecaster has a Mahogany body with a Lutz Spruce top. Fender has provided a comfort bevel for the forearm of the picking hand, which is definitely a nice touch.
It has a Mahogany neck with a modernized deep C-shape contour for both comfort and performance. Ebony is used for the fretboard, featuring a 12” radius with 22 frets.
The American Acoustasonic Telecaster has hardware components such as:
- Tusq nut
- Ebony bridge
- Tusq saddle
- Die-cast tuners
For electronics, this guitar has a Fishman undersaddle piezo pickup along with a noiseless single-coil designed by Fender. With the flip of a switch, you can go from acoustic tones to blazing electric leads, providing versatility for performances.
A gig bag comes included with the purchase of the American Acoustasonic Telecaster.
Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster
Fender’s Jazzmaster is a true icon, but it’s just as notorious for being wrought with issues. The Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center) aims to remedy those longstanding problems.
For the most part, this is a fairly traditional Jazzmaster in terms of its build, featuring:
- Alder body
- Maple neck with deep C-shape contour
- Rosewood fretboard with 9.5” radius
- 22 frets
- Bone nut
- Die-cast tuners
Things start to get interesting when with the pickups, which have been upgraded for this specific model. A pair of Fender V-Mod II Jazzmaster single-coils provide increased articulation along with a beefier bridge tone.
Controlling these pickups is a breeze with a 3-way switch and a knob for tone and volume.
This model also features the Jazzmaster’s signature rhythm circuit, which uses a 2-way switch and a pair of thumbwheels.
Fender has also upgraded the tremolo system with their Panorama tremolo. This is designed to add both sensitivity and range for increased performance capabilities.
It would have been nice to see a Mustang bridge here, but the Jazzmaster/Jaguar bridge should suffice.
A hardshell case comes included with the American Professional II Jazzmaster.
Fender American Professional II Telecaster
Do you love the Telecaster, but wish it had a few more features beyond its simplistic design? If so, it’s worth checking out the Fender American Professional II Telecaster (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center).
This is a true Telecaster at heart, with an Alder body, Maple neck, and a Maple or Rosewood fretboard. Standard Fender specs are also featured here, including a 9.5” fretboard radius and a 25.5” scale length.
While the guitar has a vintage-style bridge with a 3-saddle brass barrel design, Fender snuck in an upgrade. You can string the guitar traditionally (through the body) or top load the strings from the bridge.
Other hardware on the American Professional II Telecaster includes:
- Bone nut
- Die-cast tuners
The pickups in this Telecaster have also seen an upgrade, featuring a pair of V-Mod II Tele single-coils. These are designed for higher output and definition, which any modern guitarist will appreciate.
As is standard with Telecasters, a 3-way switch and knobs for volume and tone are provided. The tone knob has a push/pull function, allowing you access to those classic out-of-phase sounds.
Lefties will appreciate the number of color options available, including:
- 3-color sunburst
- Miami blue
- Butterscotch blonde
- Mystic surf green
A Fender hardshell case does come included with the American Professional II Telecaster.
What To Look For When Buying A Left Handed Fender Guitar
Fender has a wide range of guitars available, with many renditions existing within the same family. Some people might find it confusing to know what the difference is between each model line.
If you’re dead set on purchasing a Fender guitar, you’ll want to know what to look for. The following information can help weigh the benefits of each model line to find the right guitar for you.
Within its electric guitar models exist a few different families of instruments, which are as follows:
- Player Plus
- American Performer
- American Professional II
- American Ultra
- American Vintage II
The Player and Player Plus series are intended to provide the most affordable entry into Fender’s guitar line. These guitars are produced in Mexico, offering standard playability without much deviation from the norm.
The American Performer series is essentially very similar to the Player lines, with the exception of American craftsmanship.
With the Vintera series, Fender has created a guitar that combines both tradition and modernity in one package. The American Professional II and American Ultra series aims to provide the most modernity for today’s players.
Vintage guitars have become the latest craze in the industry in the last 20 years. With Squier’s success with vintage-inspired instruments, it only makes sense for Fender to expand its own lineup.
The American Vintage II line consists of faithful reproductions of guitars from specific years. These guitars are generally about the closest thing to a vintage guitar without actually being a vintage guitar.
When you’re considering a Fender, you’ll need to decide which features you would like the guitar to have. If you’re looking for a straightforward guitar without any frills, the Player Series is a great fit.
However, the other lines have a few tricks up their sleeves that might prove to be the deciding factor. Many of these guitars are equipped with electronic upgrades that greatly expand the tonal possibilities.
Of course, if you’re wanting to stay steeped in tradition, the American Vintage II will be what you’re after. Do keep in mind, however, that you will be paying a premium for this type of instrument.
As each year passes, it seems as if Fender guitars become more expensive for the average guitarist. The company has set up its instruments to be ideally crafted with professionals and serious hobbyists in mind.
With that being said, be prepared to spend a certain amount of money when you do purchase a Fender guitar. Even the most affordable models can be out of the reach of beginner and intermediate budgets.
You’ll need to consider whether having the Fender decal on the headstock is worth its premium price. For many, these guitars are generally thought to be worth the cost in relation to the overall craftsmanship.
If you can’t realistically afford an authentic Fender, there is no shame in considering a guitar from Squier. These are offered at lower prices due to the lower labor costs associated with overseas manufacturing.
Once upon a time, a guitarist playing a Squier would usually be subjected to unjust judgment and ridicule. That has slowly been changing as the quality of Squiers has vastly improved over the last few decades.
There are perhaps just as many guitarists who feel that Squier guitars are the better value overall. Again, you’ll need to consider how much you are willing to pay to have the Fender logo on the guitar.
Alternatively, it’s always worth your time to keep an eye on various used marketplaces, both online and in music shops. You can often find a Fender that costs significantly less than what it would have cost as a new guitar.
More often than not, aside from the serial number, used guitars can be indistinguishable from newer models. But, you will need to know what to look for in terms of cosmetics and the guitar’s overall condition.
History Of Fender
Fender officially got its start in 1948 by Leo Fender, who was initially a radio and amplifier repairman. His designs for the electric guitar are some of the most iconic and recognizable in history and are often copied.
The company quickly found its instruments being used in surf, blues, and country. Eventually, Fender began producing larger amplifiers, ultimately ushering in a new era of loud rock and roll.
Throughout the last century, there have been too many guitarists that have made a name for themselves with a Fender. Even Fender’s amplifiers have found a dedicated loyal fanbase, and have been used frequently on tours and in the studio.
In the mid-60s, the company was purchased by the broadcasting conglomerate, CBS. Many consider this era to be a dark time for the company, though the brand’s reputation remained consistent.
Today, Fender is privately owned in partnership with a number of different investors. They continue to produce their signature models, often offering both traditional builds and those with modern twists.
Fender also has a subsidiary company called Squier, which produces Fender designs for a lower cost. Many of today’s guitarists consider Squier guitars to provide great value for their price.
The Fender Custom Shop employs master luthiers to create some of the most luxurious guitars in the industry. These models will often showcase a painstaking effort to create period-specific relic-ing and age marks.
Top Left Handed Fenders, Final Thoughts
Fender will always be considered one of the greatest guitar companies in the history of modern music. While tried and true, these guitars continue to find their way into some of today’s most innovative music genres.
Buying a Fender can feel like you’re taking part in honoring a longstanding tradition. Just be sure to weigh out the pros and cons of the guitar you want to ensure the proper fit.