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Fender Paramount PD-220E review

Is this stunning all-mahogany dreadnought the new benchmark for electro-acoustics at this price? The evidence suggests as much

Fender Paramount PD-220E
(Image: © Future)

Guitar World Verdict

You’re looking at one of the very best electro-acoustics available in this price range.

Pros

  • +

    X-bracing offers great resonance.

  • +

    Tidy build.

  • +

    Appealing, rustic aesthetic.

  • +

    Clear, defined mid and treble tones.

  • +

    Unrivalled value for money.

Cons

  • -

    Limited to blend and volume controls on the pickup.

With all the excitement around Fender’s Acoustasonic models you’d be forgiven for overlooking the company’s extensive array of more traditional flat-top steel string models alongside those bold hybrids. The Paramount series is especially one to watch, and we feel it’s perhaps the company’s most underrated line. 

Back in 2017 we were impressed by the first Paramount mahogany models we tried and felt they stood up to anything in their electro-acoustic £500 bracket. They even included a hard case. 

Nearly five years later and a hard case is still included here on this enhanced model, but the acoustic guitar market as a whole has gone from strength to strength; the quality you can get for your money nowadays continues to astound us. Does Fender’s latest Paramount dreadnought stand up in this contemporary context?

This 2022 mahogany model offers offset X-bracing for optimized resonance and looks more refined than before (read: higher end). Rather than natural mahogany stain for the top we have an Aged Cognac Burst, plus a matte black headstock. It wears it very well indeed, and one again Fender shows a keen eye for pizazz with the details. 

(Image credit: Future)

The 2017 models had a 1930s Weissenborn-style checked pattern around the body, back and soundhole, and the green, blue and red feather pattern here again looks back to the 1930s and 40s. Add in the snowflake inlays and it looks fantastic.

The guitar is a very tidy build and the aesthetic balances classy detail with the more rustic look mahogany builds can offer, alongside the comfort of a satin neck where you can still feel the grain. 

This makes a really strong first impression. It’s lightweight for a solid, back and sides mahogany dreadnought at 3.8lbs and the action here is relatively low for an acoustic and without any fretbuzz issues.

It can take hard strumming and dexterous fingerpicking in its stride, with its mid and treble character clear and defined

In our experience, mahogany acoustic guitars tend to offer more midrange push in the tonal spectrum, and that’s a great attribute to have in a mix with other instruments. 

If you’re looking for deep bass boom and shimmery hi-fi trebles, they’re not usually an obvious port of call and so it proves here; this is a quintessential mahogany dreadnought experience. It can take hard strumming and dexterous fingerpicking in its stride, with its mid and treble character clear and defined.

Like the Acoustasonic, the PD-220E finds Fender and Fishman joining forces on the pickup side of things for the undersaddle Sonitone Plus piezo pickup that can be blended with a body-sensing pickup for the top vibrations. 

You’re limited to blend and volume controls just inside the soundhole, but comparing it to our own mahogany dread’ with an original Sonitone system with our acoustic guitar amp, it’s a significant upgrade with less compression and represents the unplugged sound well.

With street prices of around £100 under the RRP, we’re looking at one of the very best electro-acoustics available in this price range.

Specs

  • PRICE: $829 / £649
  • TYPE: Electro acoustic dreadnought
  • BODY: Solid mahogany top, back and sides 
  • NECK: Mahogany 
  • SCALE LENGTH: 25.3”/643mm 
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/43mm 
  • FINGERBOARD: Ovangkol
  • FRETS: 20
  • TUNERS: Nickel open-back
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 55mm 
  • ELECTRICS: Fender/ Fishman Sonitone Plus piezo and transducer 
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.7/3.8 
  • FINISHES: Satin urethane Aged Cognac Burst (as reviewed), Natural with Sitka spruce top, 3-Color Vintage Sunburst with Sitka spruce top.
  • CASE: Fender Deluxe Black hard case included 
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)

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Rob Laing
Rob Laing

Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar (opens in new tab), handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.