Hands-on review: Fender ’72 Pawnshop

(John Gorbe | Posted 2011-07-22)

Hands-on review: Fender ’72 Pawnshop

Sometimes you get your hands on a guitar that you enjoy customizing and “Frankensteining”. You know the kind I mean…these are the guitars that you may have had for a while and wished that it had different pickups or tuners so you experiment and see what you can come up with. You may be thinking, “I really like a strat style body but would love to have a humbucker sound or a hollow body sound too. Fender knows this and understands that there are guitars that should be, but aren’t and they did something about it.

I wrote a press release on the Fender Pawnshop Series guitars some time ago and was excited to finally get my hands on a ’72 Pawnshop! My tester was a 3-color sunburst with a rosewood fingerboard. Below you’ll find my thoughts on this unique instrument, but first let’s hit the specs!

The Fender ’72 features a Strat-style alder body with bound “F” hole, rosewood fingerboard mated to a “U” shape maple neck, vintage style tuners, 3-bolt neck plate, hard-tail bridge, Enforcer Humbucking pickup (bridge), Wide Range Humbucking pickup (neck), master volume, blend control knob with center detent, synthetic bone nut, tele-style headstock, 2-knob chrome control plate, chrome hardware, and a bullet style truss rod.

The first thing I noticed about the ’72 is that it’s very comfortable to hold. This is a guitar I could easily play for 3 or 4 hours without noticeable fatigue. I could really appreciate the chest contour, which made it comfortable and the alder body was light. I’m sure the decorative F-hole contributed here.

From a tuning perspective, I forgot how much I liked vintage style tuners! These are what I like to call “manual” locking tuners because the string feeds into a hole on top of the post and wraps around a couple times. These strings don’t slip! I like these tuners better than the normal stock Fender tuners and probably would say I feel just as comfortable with these as I do with the “thumb wheel” variety.

I also liked the way the neck felt on this guitar. Ok, now you may be saying to yourself, “John, I’ve read many of your reviews that featured guitars with glossy necks and you kill them for it!” Yes, this is true. But this neck, although slightly tacky, has a different feel after I’ve been playing for a while. The frets are very well dressed and polished too, which really makes up for this whole neck issue I have! Simply put…I like this neck.

Regarding the electronics department, the volume rolled off very smoothly and my volume swell test passed with high marks. The volume was buttery smooth as was the blender knob. Ahh, the blender knob… I really liked this because I could mix the level of both humbuckers exactly to taste. I wasn’t stuck with 3 positions as I would with Tele or Les Paul style electronics. The electronics were very quiet as well. Blending in and out of the pickups was smooth and noise-free. This was a real novelty and quite nice on this guitar.

The neck humbucker had a nice warm, mid-range tone that was really pleasing to my ear. I found myself playing blues lines and even some jazz ideas with this sound and could see myself using this on recordings or live. Blending the bridge in and resting at the center detent gave the guitar a bit more shimmer and brilliance that worked well for chords and funk styles. I rolled the knob back further activating the bridge pickup and got a big “Spank” out of the guitar! This was great for rockabilly and country style licks.

Both pickups worked well when driven a bit from the amp too. These pickups aren’t too over the top or aggressive but they provided enough punch and attitude to work well with my tube amp. I noticed that due to the semi-hollow body, the guitar seemed to sing when nailing some higher notes. The guitar as a whole has a resonant quality about it that I like and every note rang true up and down the fingerboard. I didn’t feel at any point that I had to work hard for a note or dig in for more sustain. I contribute this to a great setup from the factory and nice quality control.

The Bottom Line
The Fender ’72 Pawnshop Guitar can be had for $799 USD. I think if you’re looking for a slight deviation on the Tele/Strat sound and feel this is certainly worth a test drive. Overall, this beauty performed well, sounded great and looked rich.

The ’72 is also available in a Surf Green finish.

To learn more about the Pawnshop Series visit Fender at:

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