No, you don’t need to get your eyes checked. The striking axe at the top of this page is, in fact, one of Fender’s new Parallel Universe models. First unveiled at the 2018 Winter NAMM Show, the limited-edition Parallel Universe series is the byproduct of Fender sending some of its most iconic designs on a direct collision course with one another. The results—an eye-catching blend of the familiar, the retro and the unconventional—have caused a major buzz in guitar land ever since images of the new models started circulating in January.
With its direct hybrid models, the Parallel Universe line truly lives up to its name. The Strat-Tele Hybrid imagines a world where a guitar with a Telecaster body comes replete with the controls, synchronized tremolo bridge, pickups and contours of a Strat. The Jazz-Tele Hybrid, on the other hand, takes a Tele Deluxe body and tosses in the single-coil pickups and floating vibrato of an American Vintage ’65 Jazzmaster. The switching system of the Jaguar—which Fender already combined with the Mustang in the Nineties at the behest of Kurt Cobain—joins forces with the electronics of the Strat on the appropriately named Jaguar Strat.
“The Parallel Universe celebrates the modular nature of Fender guitars, splicing together DNA from various Fender models to create off-the-wall hybrids,” Fender Senior Vice President of Products Justin Norvell said of the series.
Where the Parallel Universe line isn’t trying to toss Fender’s most identifiable models into a blender together, it injects a dose of adventurousness into those same guitars. What would it be like if you threw some TV Jones Classic pickups onto a Tele? What if you mounted a Fender ShawBucker humbucking pickup onto the body of yet another Tele? How about adding some inimitable Tele twang to a Strat-style body? The Tele Thinline Super Deluxe, the American Elite Telecaster HSS and the Whiteguard Strat answer all of those respective questions.
After offering a first look at each of the Parallel Universe models in January, Fender is planning to officially roll out one guitar every month for the rest of 2018. Considering the technical innovations of upcoming models like the Jaguar Strat (which’ll be unveiled in October) and the daring, futuristic design of guitars like the Meteora (November), we have a lot to look forward to.