Fender Sonoran Electro-Acoustic Review
£240 on Musicians Friend
Fender Sonoran SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Classic wood finish
Full acoustic experience
Maple wood fretboard
Hard top mahagony
High quality pickups and preamp with shiny controls
Strings need to be tuned from time to time
Looks aren't very appealing
A lot of things manufactured in China are quite inexpensive but not necessarily low quality. Since 1971, Fender has shifted their manufacturing unit to Asia and has been consistently producing good quality guitars for a better profit margin. Fenders are not really the affordable guitars, especially for someone who is just starting out. Fortunately, they have kept the beginners in mind and had come out with the Fender Sonoran guitar that costs only £240. It was first released in 2006. No matter how their guitars are priced, they are known to stick to certain standards. We will see how this one stands up.
Though it is manufactured in China, the build quality feels very sturdy. The looks are identical to any other expensive guitar. You can surely say that Fender Sonoran is one of the very few or perhaps the only low cost guitar that comes with hard top. Looking at the guitar for the first time, you will instantly notice the natural finish all over. The sides and the back are made from laminated Mahagony while the top is made from solid Spruce.
The shoulders on this guitar are narrow just like the folk-type guitars have. The bridge and the fingerboard is made from rosewood. There is a proper bone nut and a saddle with nice “C” shaped neck that feels just right while handling the guitar.
Right out of the box, the strings are well tuned and ready for action. You get Fender Dura-Tone Coated 80/20 Bronze strings and with little adjustment and tuning you should be fine. According to some users, the strings are quite poor and fitting on a new set of strings will give better results. It will be up to you whether you like the default strings or prefer to purchase your own. Handling this guitar will give you a feel of handling a Stratocaster if you have ever played one. You also get 21 frets on the rosewood fretboard.
Since, this guitar is an electric type, it comes with a Fishmann Isys III Preamp. The preamp is installed right under the guitar’s upper bout. Along with it, there are volume, bass, mid and treble control knobs. The knobs are all made from vintage shiny chrome. Since, there is a preamp there has to be a pickup to feed the preamp. Fender Sonoran comes with an under-saddle Sonicore pickup.
Sound that comes out of this instrument is up to the high standards of Fender. You will not be disappointed by it. The strings produce nice and clean tones while the good quality wood and design allows those tones to resonate resulting in a perfect sound. You will instantly notice that the tones feel bright and vibrant. Since, we are dealing with the electro version, you will have a lot of options to interface it with external amps and create a varying degree different sounds. The only drawback that one might experience is going high volume. This tends to cause some ringing issues which can be quite irritating. So, keep the volume at around 80%.
The bright and vibrant sound is what ensures us that this guitar can be used for a wide range of genres, be it Rock, Pop or Blues or something else. The preamp that comes with this guitar amplifies the full acoustic range which gives a feeling of wholeness. The 3 band equalizer settings are quite responsive and you can achieve the desired effect. Plugging in an external amp, you can add in distortion. The sounds produced with the acoustic guitar and amp combo are interesting to hear. Just remember that all the sounds are purely acoustic.
You would not need an amplifier if you are playing it inside, because the guitar itself is quite loud. You can choose to go all acoustic or turn on the preamp if you desire so. Both the experiences are good, it all depends on whether you are an electric guy, pure acoustic or even a mix of both.
Different types of wood behave differently and produce slightly different tones from each other. Commonly, we have rosewood, maple and even Ebony used on the neck and fingerboard. Ebony is mostly used on the high end guitars such as the Startocasters and Telecasters. Ebony is known to be the best wood for fingerboard and neck region because of great sustainability and resonance. The wood is tightly grained and very hard. It is also much darker in colour which looks good on all black electric guitars. Apart from that, we also have rosewood being used for the same purpose. It looks quite good on light coloured guitars. It is not as hard as the Ebony and softer than Maple. It definitely much lighter and has a rough texture due to the porous properties. Considering this, rosewood would not resonate that well as compared to maple and ebony. Sounds produced by rose wood neck will feel slightly softer. A lot of tonal quality and sustain depend heavily on the wood used on the fretboard, and be assured Maple wood is the second best after Ebony.
Hence, Fender Sonoran comes with Maple wood which seems to be a good choice for such an inexpensive guitar. Maple wood does not require any kind of special hardening and periodic lacquering while the rosewood does need periodic varnishing with special oils.
One may expect to have mediocre sounds from a £240 guitar, but do not judge this Fender by the price. Even though it is not a high end guitar, it will blow your mind off because it sounds and feels so good even at this price. Fender has shown its consistency in the quality even at such a low price range. The Fender Sonoran is definitely a great guitar for those who love pure acoustics and want to have their first guitar without spending a lot of money.
I would not be suprised if I still owned this very guitar in 20 years.
It makes a good, bright, full acoustic sound.
Overall, it's a great value for the money, a great guitar.
I love this guitar. It sounds good both on its own and through an amp
- Body Style: Single Cutaway Fender Style Dreadnought
- Finish: (021) Natural
- Finish: Gloss (polyurethane)
- Top: Solid Spruce
- Bracing: Scalloped X bracing
- Back and Sides: Laminated Mahogany
- Neck: Maple vintage "C" shape
- Fingerboard: Rosewood
- No. of Frets: 20
- Bridge: Rosewood with Compensated Saddle
- Machine Heads: Vintage Fender Style with White Plastic Buttons
- Electronics: Fender FTE-3 Active On-Board Preamp which Features: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Low Battery Indicator Light
- Scale Length: 25.3" (643mm)
- Body Depth: 3.75" (Front), 4.75" (Rear)
- Width at Nut: 1-5/8" (41mm)
- Width at Heel: 2-1/8" (54mm)
- Unique Features:
- Fender Stratocaster Headstock Shape, Fender Tight Dreadnought Body Shape, Traditional Fender Bridge, Factory Mounted Forward Strap Button with Internal Block Reinforcement, White Dot Inlays, Checkerboard Rosette, Soft "C" Shaped Neck, Multiple Body Bindings, Gold Pickguard.
- Strings: D'Addario EXP-12 Phosphor Bronze, Gauges .012 to .053
- Accessories: None