If you have ever played a Fender acoustic guitar from the Sixties and you noticed how Fender is marketing its new Paramount series acoustics with statements about “legacy design elements of classic Sixties models,” please note that the elements in question are only cosmetic.
Fortunately, Fender’s new Paramount series has very little in common with Fender’s Sixties acoustics other than the headstock shape and inlays, checkerboard purfling, backstrip, and rosette, and pickguard shape. Rest assured that you won’t find the bizarrely configured bolt-on necks, screwed-in pickguards, heavy plywood materials, and other misguided “design elements” that made Fender’s original Sixties acoustic models misunderstood at best and reviled at worst.
Instead, Fender’s Paramount series are damn good acoustic guitars that provide stellar tone, impressive playability, and outstanding value, and very likely are among the best acoustics that Fender has ever offered.
The Paramount series currently consists of dreadnought (PM-1), parlor (PM-2), and triple-0 (PM-3) body styles available in standard (mahogany body) or deluxe (East Indian rosewood body) versions, the latter also offering a choice of natural or vintage sunburst finishes for a total of nine different models. We looked at the PM-3 Deluxe featuring the “in-between” triple-0 dimensions and a vintage sunburst finish. Like Fender’s other Paramount models, the PM-3 Deluxe offers all-solid material construction, quartersawn scalloped “X” bracing, and PM System electronics designed by Fender and Fishman especially for the Paramount series.
Deluxe upgrades include a Grade-A solid Sitka spruce top, the aforementioned solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, an ebony fingerboard and bridge, aged black tuner buttons, and abalone and mother-of-pearl “Concert Tone” fingerboard inlays. The PM-3 Deluxe’s mahogany neck has a 25.3-inch scale, 20 frets, rounded “C”-shape profile, and 15.75-inch radius. A generous cutaway provides excellent access up the neck without sacrificing bass response or volume output.
The PM-1, PM-2, and PM-3 each have their own PM System pickup and preamp electronics designed to complement their distinctive tones. The PM-3 Deluxe’s natural acoustic tone is distinguished by its impressive note-to-note balance from bass to treble, crisp attack, and lush, reverb-like resonance, and the PM System captured all of these attributes in warm, natural detail. I’ve long hailed the versatility of medium-sized 000-style acoustics, and the PM-3 Deluxe is no exception, being perfect for everything from delicate fingerstyle to raucous rhythm playing. The PM System makes it ideal for any gig, from a quiet coffeehouse solo gig to the driving force-accompaniment for a singer fronting an electric rock band.
STREET PRICE: $999.99
MANUFACTURER: Fender, fender.com
• The PM System is designed by Fender and Fishman to perfectly complement the distinctive tonal characteristics of the PM-3 Deluxe’s triple-0-sized body.
• Truly deluxe features abound, from the abalone and mother-of-pearl “Concert Tone” fingerboard inlays to the ebony fingerboard and bridge.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Forget the Sixties marketing hype—the Fender Paramount Series guitar have more in common with “Golden Era” acoustics from the Thirties in terms of looks and performance plus the sonic advantages of present-day electronics.