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Fender is a brand known for having a lot of instrument lines, each catering to a different (or slightly different) audience.
It’s not rare to get confused by all of them. Hey, their names are not so descriptive after all!
What’s the actual difference between a Player, a Performer, and a Professional? And what is a Vintera?
We did our homework and we will tell you in this article.
If you just want a short answer and you need to keep going, here it is:
The main differences between Fender’s Player, Vintera, Performer, and Professional lines are that the first 2 are made in Mexico while the other 2 are American-made. The Player line is the cheapest. Vinteras have vintage specs. Performers are the cheapest USA-made. Professionals are the new Fender standard.
If you can stick with us for a while longer, in this article we will tell you about the main characteristics of each of these Fender instrument lines, and then we will talk about their main differences. Finally, we will give you our insights into what we think would be better for you.
Are you ready?
Let’s get started!
Fender Player line main features
The Fender Player line is the brand’s entry point. These are the most affordable instruments Fender offers under their own brand.
They are a modern spin of the classic Fender guitars, tuned into what the players from this age look for.
For instance, the pickups in these models are a bit hotter than what you would expect from a vintage Fender. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t retain the company’s classic sound.
These guitars come with a modern “C” neck profile that really makes for the character of the instrument. This profile would surely appeal to a broad range of players, and that was what it was designed for.
The Fender Player line is there to be the first step into the brand’s universe for many people. It surely retains what makes a Fender a Fender, but it is watered down so it would be easier to swallow.
And that’s not a bad thing. There is a big audience for their lineup, and from my personal experience, I can tell you that they are great sounding instruments for their price point.
Fender Vintera line main features
The Fender Vintera series is also produced in Mexico, and as its name might imply this line centers on instruments with vintage features.
All of these guitars have specs as similar as possible to their original counterparts. For instance, you would find instruments with a period-correct number of frets having 21 instead of 22 as the modern versions.
One of the top-selling points of this line is that their pickups were designed by Tim Shaw, Fender’s top pickup builder, with the intention to replicate the original ones. They even cover the slight changes that happened between the different decades.
Another big feature for the vintage Fender fanatics such as me is that these instruments come also with year-model-correct neck profiles. So, for instance, you will find pretty thick 50s necks.
This line of Fender instruments is surely designed for people who look for the classic Fender tone and feel, and at its price point, they are the best you could get to fulfill this need.
Take into account that a correct vintage-spec Fender guitar will go for a rather high price if you don’t take into account this line.
Fender Performer line main features
The Fender Performer is Fender America’s entry line. You finally made it into American-built Fenders when you get one of these.
Of course, these are not custom shop instruments, but their quality and sound are noticeably different from Mexican ones.
Are they better, and how much better are they? That’s a tricky question that I can’t answer. But the step-up is surely felt.
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These guitars have alder bodies and maple necks and rosewood fingerboards.
Strangely (or not) these guitars rock a 70s headstock, which might be a polarizing feature for many since the 70s were a turbulent period for Fender.
The neck profile for this line is a modern “C” one, a profile that might appeal, as we said earlier to a broader audience, and that is extremely comfortable.
Features like these are present in a lot of entry-level instruments across brands to make players coming from different kinds of guitars more comfortable. And that’s great.
You are not required to like a more vintage feel if you don’t. And hey, even for vintage instrument lovers as I am, playing thick necks with small hands is not a great experience, that gets improved greatly by a slimmer neck.
The pickups for these guitars are called the Fender Yosemite and they have a gritty, mid-rich sound that strangely fits more into the vintage spectrum but they don’t shy away from gain.
A very nice feature these guitars have is that their second tone knob has a push-pull switch that, when activated, adds the neck pickup to whatever pickup position you have selected with the blade selector.
This is a feature that adds versatility and, for instance, allows you to get a middle position tele sound on a strat by selecting the bridge pickup and adding the neck one.
These instruments are incredibly built and an amazing option for getting into the American lineup without compromising your marriage.
Fender Professional line main features
The Professional line is the American Fender standard. The equivalent to what Leo Fender did in 1954: No luxuries, but no cost savings.
This is what you should think about when you hear “American Fender” nowadays.
Their neck profile is a deep “C”, a more in-your-face alternative for necks without going into baseball bat territory, but a very comfortable one.
The headstock here is the “normal” Fender size and the looks are a bit more refined.
Build quality is amazing without reaching custom shop level, of course.
We said that this line holds the bread and butter models for the actual Fender lineup, however, this doesn’t mean that they have vintage specs. Moreso, they are pretty modern guitars.
Their bridge and tuners are not what you would find in a vintage reissue, and their pickups are designed, again, by Tim Shaw, are a modern approach to the classic Fender sound, achieving a more balanced result.
But if you’re wondering the brand’s soul is still in there.
I said that I’m into vintage stuff, and as a Gear Aficionado you can’t blame me. However, I think that pushing the envelope is important for the classic brands at least in one of their lines.
We can’t live in the past forever, we should accept 70 years of technological progress. A modern sound is not something bad. It’s just a different flavor.
Main differences between the Fender Player, Vintera, Performer, and Professional lines
These 4 lines of Fender guitars are, each one, of great quality given their price points.
The differences here are where the instrument is built and, within origins, its specs.
To make it all clearer here is a brief table that shows all the main specs for each line:
|Neck profile||Modern “C”||Period-specific||Modern “C”||Deep “C”|
|Pickups||Player Series Alnico V||Vintage-style||Yosemite||Fender V-Mod II|
|Concept||Modern specs||Vintage specs||Entry point to American Fender with modern specs||Modern specs standard American Fender|
|Price||Cheaper||In between||In between||More expensive|
I’d like to note that the Vintera and Performer series are priced at a very similar level. And this is a dilemma many players would face.
You will have to weigh out how much you want a vintage featured instrument against an American one.
The thing is that, for an American vintage specced Fender, you would have to pocket out a lot more money.
Fender Player vs Vintera lines
The main differences between Fender’s Player and Vintera lines are that the Player line is cheaper and has modern Fender features, while the Vintera series is focused on vintage models and has period-correct specs, at a higher price, comparable with one of American Fender’s cheaper instruments.
Fender Performer vs Professional lines
The main differences between Fender’s Performer and Professional lines are that the Performer line is Fender’s entry point to their American products. They feature modern “C” neck profiles and Yosemite pickups. The Professional line is the new Fender standard, they come with deep “C” necks and V-Mod pickups.
Which one should you choose?
Here in GearAficionado, we don’t like making choices for you.
We know that getting a new guitar is always a very personal and introspective process that you should embark on only with the company of your wallet.
There are subtleties and nuances on these and every other instrument or piece of gear that you couldn’t know by just reading a blog post or watching a YouTube video.
That’s why we always encourage you to try out every guitar before buying it, and if it’s possible for you, get to try your options back to back so you can hear and feel the actual differences.
However, if you want to know what we think about these 4 lines of Fender instruments, and which we think would work better in different situations, here are our insights into it:
- If you are on a budget and looking for a Fender guitar, go for the Player series
- If you are looking for a Mexican Fender with modern specs, get a Player series
- If you really like vintage Fender instruments, get a Vintera series
- If you value more getting an American Fender than a vintage featured one, try out the Performer series
- If you want the Fender American standard, their bread and butter, go for the Professional line
- If you want a hard case with your guitar, for the cost of getting it you could go from a Performer to a Professional
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.