“An instrument with class that could still appeal to the most technically driven shredders”: Bruno Mars’ signature Fender Strat tips the cap to his six-string icons Jimi Hendrix and Prince – and it’s one of the finest artist builds we’ve seen

Bruno Mars with his Fender Bruno Mars Stratocaster
(Image credit: Fender)

Fender has announced the Bruno Mars signature Stratocaster, which honors the multi-talented singer-songwriter and pop star not just with a surprisingly punchy signature guitar, but also a brand-new color for the brand – dubbed Mars Mocha. 

All of which means the successful popstar, songwriter and performer can now add not just a Strat but also a finish with his name to his big list of things with his name on, alongside the eight numbers ones, 14 Grammy awards and 200 million single sales. 

“I don’t think of myself as a guitar player. I’m more of a frustrated songwriter,” says Mars. “Every song is like a puzzle you have to solve, and a good guitar can bring something out of you that can help take you to the finish line. That’s what I wanted from this guitar.

“It was also important to have a workhorse that I could depend on for performing live and writing in the studio, whether it be rhythm or lead.”

Mars’ comments are somewhat self-effacing and we imagine some guitar buyers might dismiss the prospect of the pop star's signature model out-of-hand, but there are some seriously savvy appointments at work here. 

As such, under the, er, saddle then, that workhorse offers a highly appealing blend of vintage vibe and the sort of modern playability that ensures it won’t wear on your hands after a long day in the studio.

Fender Bruno Mars Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)

The resulting spec list features an ash American Ultra body (with contemporary, ergonomic carves and a reduced neck heel) paired with a recreated ‘69 neck profile (modeled after Mars’ own ’69 Strat, and considered by many to be the ultimate Strat neck shape), plus a maple 9.5"–12" compound radius fretboard and stainless steel frets. 

Elsewhere, there’s a set of custom-voiced Fender Bruno Mars pickups, Deluxe locking tuners and gold hardware.

That hardware, alongside the Mars Mocha nitrocellulose lacquer finish showcases Fender’s new Heirloom aging process – giving it a friendly worn-in, but not worn-out, feel. 

Indeed, take a look at the close-ups and there is more than a hint of Gibson’s market-leading Murphy Lab look to the paintwork, suggesting Fender is closing the gap on that front.

It’s all complemented by an included leopard print strap – intended as a nod to two of Mars’ favorite guitar icons, Jimi Hendrix and Prince (the former favored a leopard print jacket, while the latter famously had a leopard print scratchplate on his Hohner T-style).

You also get a three-ply mint pickguard thrown in, for good measure, which is just the sort of nonsense case candy that we absolutely have time for.

The price for all this classy playability? $2,999, which is not cheap for a non-Custom Shop USA Fender, but there are some high end appointments here and that, clearly, comes at a cost. 

For more information, head to Fender.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.