I have been a very lucky boy in receiving a Fender FSR American Hand Stained Ash Telecaster to review and it is one of the rarest and luxurious guitars I’ve ever played. This beauty was dispatched from Fenders world famous Corona facility along with its 250 brothers and made their way to specialist dealers across the world. FSR actually stands for Factory Short Run so you can imagine how chuffed I am to be sat here playing it, although despite its exclusivity it’s not as expensive as you’d think. Especially when you consider that as long as it stays in good nick, then it’s guaranteed to at least retain or improve upon its original value. But I’m not here to talk about investments; I’m here to review this awesome guitar so I’ll start with its rather distinct appearance.
Shown Above: Fender Stained Ash Telecaster in Red
Shown Above: Fender Stained Ash Telecaster in Black
As I’m sure you’ve already noticed from the images, the guitar has a very pretty hand stained ash construction. The change from traditional Alder to Ash isn’t actually that strange, legendary Beatles guitarist George Harrison played an Ash Telecaster, as did many guitarists from that era. The hand-rubbed stained lacquer finish on the other hand is much more unfamiliar although it’s a mystery why. The Matte finish will actually improve with age and good ol’ fashioned wear and tear will only benefit the guitar. I’ll come into the tonal differentiations between to the two tonewoods later. The translucent finish was chosen to emphasise, rather than cover the Ash’s naturally dramatic grain that gives it this fantastic appearance, but also means that no two models are exactly the same.
Shown Above: Fender Stained Ash Telecaster in Wine Red
The Fender FSR hand stained Tele is available in two finishes, The Mahogany Stain version, which has a Maple fretboard and the Win Red Stain model that has a Rosewood fretboard. So if you were to purchase this guitar then it would come down to a matter of preference. I personally played the maple fretboard and it was a little sticky at first but that started wearing off after a bit of playing so that’s not to much of a problem. I’ve always found Rosewood better for shredding but this hardly a shredding guitar and again comes down to opinion. Either way both versions come with a satin back and contrasting chrome hardware that looks really cool.
Shown Above: Fender Stained Ash Telecaster in Ash Black
Coming back to the transition of Alder to Ash and I honestly wasn’t expecting such a dramatic change in tone. The dense wood produces really bright and hard sounds, but it really comes into its element when cutting and produces wonderfully distorted tones. It is equipped with two American Standard Tele Single Coil pickups, which are wired through a single volume and no-load tone control via a 3-way selector switch that delivers that classic Tele Twang. At the bottom end of the scale it produces really broad and firm lows with bright, pleasant highs at the other end. I play a variety of genres of music and I did put the guitar through its paces but this it is incredibly versatile and unless you intend on playing heavy metal, then rest assured this Telecaster can handle it.
Not only is this the best looking guitar I’ve ever played but it’s also the most complete, in terms of sound, construction, playability and the rest. If you’re looking for a new guitar and you’ve got a bit money saved up then this FSR Hand Stained Ash Telecaster is definitely worth sacrificing this year’s holiday for.