Fender PM-1 All-Ma­hogany NE

The Big F ad­justs its sights on the acous­tic mar­ket with this ma­hogany strum­mer

Total Guitar - - REVIEW - Rob Laing

it’s a voice that leans to­wards folky amer­i­cana

When it launched its Para­mount acous­tic se­ries last year, Fender sent a mes­sage that it was re­it­er­at­ing its com­mit­ment to acous­tics: solid-wood builds, be­spoke preamp sys­tems… we were pleased to see them, and as we open the hard­case to this all ma­hogany ad­di­tion, hopes are high.

Well, it’s not an elec­tro. And so far only those orig­i­nal spruce­topped ma­hogany mod­els (£599) of­fer the cheap­est op­tion of plug­ging in with the range. But what the PM-1 lacks in im­me­di­ate gi­ga­bil­ity, it makes up for in looks. It’s part of a trio of mod­els com­pleted by the PM-2 par­lour and PM-3 Triple O cut­away. The look is clearly vin­tage-in­spired, but it’s been nailed bet­ter than a lot of the com­pe­ti­tion in this price bracket. The pro­nounced grain and un­der­stated ap­point­ments strike an al­lur­ing bal­ance. We’re es­pe­cially taken with the checker­board pur­fling around the top and down the back stripe.

For a ma­hogany dread­nought with solid back and sides, the PM-1 is sur­pris­ingly light at a touch over 3lbs, and pick­ing it up for a strum it soon seems like that equates to res­o­nance – we can feel those low fre­quen­cies vi­brat­ing. The flat­ness of the C-shape neck pro­file may not be to every­one’s tastes but we soon feel at home here and it will cer­tainly please a fair few Fender elec­tric play­ers, and the low ac­tion un­der­lines a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

There are traits we hope for from ma­hogany build acous­tics: note def­i­ni­tion, mus­cu­lar and mids and rounded lows that cre­ate a clear and con­fi­dent voice. They’re all here. It’s lively with it too – es­pe­cially when we A/B it with our sim­i­larly spec’d Sigma for com­par­i­son – with some wel­come air to its pro­jec­tion that brings sus­tain to picked in the mids. It’s a voice that leans to­wards folky Amer­i­cana but for any play­ers who want a rootsy, wood­ier tonal­ity rather than or­ches­trated shim­mery chords, this will in­spire.

Fender hasn’t added ma­hogany to the Para­mount line for cos­metic pur­poses. The PM-1 has a clear iden­tity and voice that’s one of the most en­joy­able acous­tics we’ve played this year. It’s so im­pres­sive that it’s dis­ap­point­ing Fender hasn’t at least of­fered an op­tion of an elec­tro be­cause we’d love to hear what it can of­fer for gig­ging play­ers. Still, this is a tidy solid wood build with a qual­ity hard­case at un­der £500 on the street, so the price is right. And it’s an­other con­vinc­ing state­ment from Fender – a leg­endary brand that isn’t al­ways go-to on the acous­tic shop­ping list for play­ers but who is now set­ting out a very con­vinc­ing case of why it should be.

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