As one of the most iconic brands in music, guitar manufacturer Fender is synonymous with rock and roll heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Eric Clapton. The newest addition to the Fender family is the American Original Series, a special take on the retro-inspired American Vintage series, a favorite among collectors for 35 years.
The new collection fuses the vintage, period-specific design of the classic Fender models with newer 21st-century digital innovations. “We looked back to the ‘50s and ‘60s because that was the golden era of rock and roll,” says Justin Norvell, SVP of Fender Products. “We made a few tweaks to these instruments to modernize them but the original Fender recipe is there.”
As a brand, Fender has always blended cutting edge design and high quality. While today, Norvell says, the ’50s-era Stratocaster is one of the most recognizable electric guitar designs, it initially left consumers scratching their heads. “If you ask someone to draw an electric guitar from memory, they would likely draw a Fender Stratocaster,” he says. “But at the time when they were launched, people said it looked like it came from outer space.”
Fender is channeling that rebellious legacy with the 11 unique models of the American Original Series, partnering with fellow iconoclasts like Kurt Vile, Isaac Brock and Grace VanderWaal – the latter a young singer-songwriter who, Norvell says, truly embodies the spirit of Fender. “As a career, we get to foster the pursuit of people wanting to creatively express themselves and play music. Grace is a great ambassador of the next generation,” Norvell says. “To have built a platform like she has in such a short time so early on in her career is obviously impressive and she is very mature and wise beyond her years.”
And speaking of youth, the American Original Series’s digital elements were designed to attract the next generation of guitar players, optimizing ease and accessibility. One of those digital advances is Fender Play, a digital learning platform offers professional video content and in-house expert teachers to help beginners learn to play at home and at their own pace. “There’s no instant gratification with learning the guitar. You can’t master it in an hour,” Norvell says. “But it doesn’t take a ton of work to start playing and get a song or two under your belt.”
With 11 vintage-style designs marrying modern playability, the American Original Series allows Fender to revolutionize while staying true to its classic rock origin story.
Fender’s American Original Series is available now on fender.com.