Fender’s artist range reads like a who’s who of rock royalty, and whether it’s the flamboyant Jimmy Page Tele, the metal-ready Jim Root Jazzmaster or Kurt Cobain’s southpaw Jag, there’s always been something for every type of player – a fact exemplified by the Californian giant’s latest releases.
And this one is arguably the most hotly anticipated guitar of the year – well, certainly among pop-punk fans – the Tom DeLonge Signature Stratocaster. The streamlined punk powerhouse is back with a vengeance.
The Blink-182 guitarist’s original run was discontinued in 2004 when DeLonge was enticed over to Gibson with his own ES-333, but luckily the re-released Strat is just as you remember it, albeit with a couple of tweaks.
Featuring the unaccompanied Seymour Duncan Invader humbucker that helped DeLonge craft his trademark sound, a solitary volume control and a slew of colourful finish options, this Strat is as simple as it gets, and that’s what we love about it.
It feels like a lifetime since the original run of DeLonge Strats hit the scene, but that doesn’t mean their popularity has faded. Instead, they’ve developed a cult following, with second-hand prices reaching new heights once it was announced Tom had reunited with his former Blink-182 bandmates.
Naturally, the rumour mill started turning immediately, with speculation of a signature Starcaster in the works and, eventually, the return of the stripped-back Strat.
In stark contrast to signature models like the recent fuzz-equipped Steve Lacy Strat, DeLonge has forgone all extras in favour of the bare essentials – a single pickup and volume control, as well as a hardtail construction.
Just like the original, the new 2023 model boasts a solo Seymour Duncan Invader humbucker, which is precisely what’s needed for hard-hitting punk rock. The tone is aggressive, defiant – and dammit, we love it.
That’s not to say that Tom’s basic Strat is entirely devoid of features, though. The lone master control is equipped with a treble bleed circuit which helps preserve the high-end when you roll off the volume – ideal for when you want to get a little cleaner.
The neck here is wide, flat and super-comfortable, and the addition of a slab rosewood fingerboard is a nice touch. The modern medium jumbo frets lend themselves perfectly to lead work, with bends ringing out as clear as a bell.
Okay, so Fender isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, and nor do they need to. For us, this pared-back Strat is the ultimate pop-punk machine, with stunning finish options, superb build quality and a tone to die for.
The DeLonge is a finely-tuned instrument that is designed with one thing in mind, and it absolutely nails it. From the treble bleed circuit to its oversized headstock and array of finish options, we love the care and attention that has gone into this signature axe – because, as we know, all the small things matter.
- PRICE: $/£1,299
- BODY: Alder
- NECK: Maple, Modern C profile
- FINGERBOARD: Rosewood
- FINGERBOARD RADIUS: 9.5”
- FRETS: Medium Jumbo
- PICKUPS: Seymour Duncan Invader
- CONTROLS: Master Volume with Treble Bleed
- FINISH OPTIONS: Surf Green, Daphne Blue, Black, Graffiti Yellow
- CONTACT: Fender