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Fender Player Plus Meteora HH review

First seen in 2018, the Meteora isn’t just a re-run or mash-up of past Fender designs. It’s a radical new ‘shape’ with maximum offset style. Would you rock one?

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH review
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

A slightly beefier but far-from-hot Fender that’s very pedalboard-friendly indeed. Perhaps not one for the blues jammers, but, then again, why not?

For

  • Surprisingly comfortable shape.
  • Neck, ’board and fretwork.
  • Weight.
  • Vibrato setup.
  • Excellent low-output humbucking sounds.

Against

  • A divisive shape – you’d need a special stand, too. Coil‑splits are on the thin side.

Originally conceived by Fender designer Josh Hurst, the Meteora model first appeared in the initial Parallel Universe range and was released late in 2018. 

That release featured the body we see here but with more Tele-style pickups and appointments. According to Fender, Josh “wanted to make something that was revolutionary while also recalling Fender’s rich history”. 

“To introduce something so unique to Fender,” Josh commented at the time, “you have to introduce it in a familiar package.”

The following year things had changed and the Meteora HH made a return in the lower-cost Alternate Reality Series. This time around it featured a less heritage-style design with twin (Player Series) humbuckers, a tune-o-matic bridge and through-body stringing. Now, for 2022, it’s back as a regular model in the upmarket Player Plus range.

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Fender’s original offset, the Jazzmaster, has had a significant influence on guitar makers large and small over the years. A common theme is to downsize that elongated body – which helps to keep weight in check – and simplify the feature set to a pair, or three, of more common pickup designs.

The Meteora is no different. Yes, the body shape is out-there, a radical offset, but the actual construction – alder body, bolt-on maple neck, vibrato – is thoroughly Fender.

And while this mainstream debut features dual humbuckers, they’re in Fender style with the three-plus-three polepiece design that harks back to Seth Lover’s original ‘Wide Range’ design. The two-post vibrato, a first for the Meteora, follows the specification of the Player Plus Stratocaster rather than the offset’s original two-piece design.

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The Meteora’s appearance in Fender’s Player Plus series is significant, too. Launched in 2021, the series could easily be seen as the most modern-style Mexican-made range, mirroring more the style of the USA Ultra at a much lower price point. 

Like other Player Plus models, the Meteora HH comes in some pretty bold colours: our metallic green Cosmic Jade and a Belair Blue fade, both with pau ferro ’boards, while the black-to-grey Silverbust comes with a maple ’board along with and a good ol’ traditional 3-Color Sunburst.

It might look a bit out‑there, but it feels surprisingly normal and the sounds we hear have plenty of appeal

Aside from its shape, the Meteora also introduces the new Fireball humbucking pickups (see Under The Hood opposite), which are selected by a Gibson-style three-way toggle switch. Each pickup can be simultaneously split, voicing the outer‑facing coils of each humbucker, via the S-1 push-switch within the master volume control’s knob. We also get a tone control for each pickup.

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Feel & Sounds

It might not look like one, but the Meteora certainly feels like a Fender. It’s a standard weight at 3.86kg (8.49lb), slightly heavier than both the Player Plus Strat and Tele we reviewed back in issue 478. The ‘modern C’ neck has a satin back with a 305mm (12‑inch) fingerboard radius and nicely rounded edges. In depth, it’s mainstream: 21.2mm at the 1st fret and 22.5mm by the 12th.

Again, that pau ferro fingerboard doesn’t capture the deep brown of classic Indian rosewood, but it’s a perfectly good fingerboard material, although the position dots are a little low in contrast to the pau ferro – maybe brighter solid white or even more opaque ‘clay’ dots would be better?

In terms of feel, it’s much more normal than it might appear. Strapped on, you might well forget what you’re playing, and it’s actually little different sitting down. Clearly, this is a well-considered design, though obviously you can’t lean it against your amp and you’ll need to consider what stand you can use.

Now, giving a pickup a name like Fireball suggests plenty of poke, but that’s not what we hear here. In fact, these humbuckers seem like quite close cousins to the identical-looking Shawbucker pickups we tested on the American Professional Telecaster Deluxe Shawbucker back in 2017.

They ‘clonk’ like an unpotted pickup when you hit the cover, although Fender tells us that the team “went with a double potting method, so both the coils and cover are potted”.

So, fire-breathing metal they are not. Both pickups measure in the mid 7kohms range and, not dissimilar to an early Gibson T-Top, they combine clarity with enough power for light classic crunch on a cleaner amp.

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

These are nothing like 15k ‘hot’ pickups. It means the coil-splits, which voice the outer coils of each pickup, however, do sound rather thin – not least when you compare them with real single coils – but they certainly work as a thinner option.

But it’s the humbucking mode that gets more play time here. If you like lower-output ’buckers, especially designs from Gretsch or Guild, then you’ll be at home.

Although the DCR measurements of the pickups are pretty much the same, they’re actually well balanced between the bridge and neck positions, while the master volume and two-tone setup is rather Stratocaster-like. Mind you, we couldn’t help thinking that lower-profile knobs might work better – these Tele-style knurled knobs do seem a little high.

Verdict

While plenty of us obsess about vintage-accurate details, the Player Plus guitars released so far have impressed us as very fit-for-purpose instruments. 

The addition of this Meteora to the range doesn’t change that one bit: it might look a bit out there, but it feels surprisingly normal and the sounds we hear have plenty of appeal.

Specs

  • PRICE: $1,149 / £999 (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: Mexico
  • TYPE: Original offset solidbody electric
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, Modern ‘C’ profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Synthetic bone/42.78mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, black dot markers, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Fender 2-Point Synchronized vibrato with Brushed Steel Block Saddles, ‘F’ logo rear lock tuners
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52.5mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Fender Fireball covered humbuckers, 3-position lever pickup selector switch, master volume (with S-1 switch for coil splits), tone 1 (neck), tone 2 (bridge) with knurled knobs
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.86/8.49
  • OPTIONS: Bass version at $1,199 / £1,149
  • RANGE OPTIONS: Player Plus Strat and Tele ($1,099 / £939), Strat HSS and Telecaster Nashville (both $1,129 / £979)
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Cosmic Jade (as reviewed), 3-Color Sunburst, Belair Blue and Silverburst – gloss polyester body with satin neck back
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)

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Dave Burrluck
Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.