When you hear the name Fender, you won’t automatically think of acoustic guitars. The Fender CD-60SCE will not be breathed in the same hallowed tones as the Telecaster or the Precision. Fender is known, quite rightly, for their electric guitars, not their acoustics.
But they have been making acoustic guitars for a long time now, over 60 years. You might think they would be better represented.
Leo was never one to miss a trick…
The success of the Telecaster and the Precision Bass in the late 50s and early 60s sprung forth a range of new products. One of the ‘new’ things was the acoustic guitar.
The California beach thing was kicking off. Pushed along by the surf sound of Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys. The idea was to bring out a new range of guitars. Ones that could be thrown on the backseat of your pickup and taken to the beach.
The first acoustic models arrived in 63. They were flat tops. They proved to be very popular. Bearing the Fender name, they were going to be. Over the next few years, a range of these acoustics were made. In 64, they opened a dedicated acoustic guitar factory. Fender was doing well.
Then 1965 came along…
CBS arrived, and someone pulled the chain, and down they went with rather a loud splash. That coincided with a lack of interest in acoustic guitars in the late 60s and early 70s. The ‘loud people’ took over. It was never the same. They continued to make their acoustic efforts, but as with most things Fender, they had lost their way.
They tried to revive them in the 90s and again quite recently with the California and other series. But it was gone. Someone should knock on their door and tell them the surf days are long gone, and they ain’t coming back.
The old days are gone…
There was a time when buying a Fender was an investment. But they did what in many ways the other major player, Gibson, did and rested on their name. It doesn’t work. Other manufacturers caught up with them and now do it better in many ways.
The Fender name is no longer what it was. I have a 62 Precision bass. A work of art. A ‘Leo’ guitar. I also have one of the first Precisions that came out of Japan. Far better than the American equivalent of the same time.
Fender opened their ‘Soundhouse’ in London in the 60s, and I tried a couple of American Fenders there. So bad, they were an embarrassment. Not so much different today. I recently tried a ‘new’ good old made in the USA Fender. Terrible.
Don’t they have files to take down the fret ends at Fender?
I just put it back while laughing at the price and went home and got my far better old Made in Japan version out.
So buying a Fender electric or acoustic today does not automatically mean quality anymore. Those days are gone along with some of the instruments. But this is a different guitar, so let’s take a look and see how it measures up in our Fender CD-60SCE Review…
The CD-60 is one of the ‘S’ series of guitars. The second ‘C’ in the title means that it is a cutaway body style and the ‘E’ that it is electro-acoustic. The CD denotes ‘Classic Design.’ It is a range of guitars that are predominantly designed for the starter and early beginner.
Here is a very early indicator that whilst the guitar may be a good instrument, someone at Fender is in Disneyland. In my awareness, very few people pay this amount of money for a first-time guitar. They will prefer to pay much less and see if the student takes to it. Then they might spend a little more once they have achieved the early basics.
Time to improve…
This guitar is really then for an improver. They will need higher quality. We will see if it manages to reach that level.
That first guitar is a priceless memory most of us can remember. To us, it didn’t matter what name was on the headstock or even if it was any good. It was a guitar, and it was ours.
So, let’s have a closer look at the Fender CD-60SCE and see if it is going to inspire any memories…
The CD-60SCE is a 25.3-inch full-scale instrument weighing seven pounds. It is built in a Dreadnought style and is designed with an awkward-looking Venetian cutaway. That is an interesting design in that the ‘Venetian’ design was first used by Gibson. It has nothing to do with Venice. The cutaway gives full access to the frets for the length of the fingerboard.
The top is solid Spruce, not laminated. This will give it a nice pure, and crisp sound when unplugged. Spruce is almost a standard tonewood for the top these days. It is not surprising. It will produce a great sound when it has a good tonewood partner for the body. This has that with its Mahogany laminate back and sides.
Loud and resonant…
Spruce and Mahogany are a common pairing and one that works very well. As we said, the Spruce top is solid, and it will produce a better, more resonant sound than a laminate top wood. However, it is vulnerable to climatic conditions, and so it needs to be taken care of.
The body and the sides are laminated, as we mentioned. This will be less susceptible to temperature change, but the sound is not quite so good.
Scalloped ‘X’ bracing…
In our view, this is a good pairing that will respond well to a variety of playing styles. Providing you take good care of your solid Spruce top. The sound performance is helped by the bracing, which controls the vibration of the top tonewood.
This has a major effect on the sound produced. Without any bracing, the sound produced would be chaotic with excess vibrations. The scalloped ‘X’ bracing on this guitar is a tried and trusted system, and it enhances the sound of the Spruce.
Stylish and sleek…
There are some very understated rosette decorations around the soundhole and edging on the body. It is finished in a black gloss, and has an attractive style to it, though we are not sure about the cutaway. It’s not that it is not a good design inclusion. It just looks like it isn’t finished without a slight upward curve. That’s Gibson’s fault. Let’s blame them.
An important area for the starter. It is a full-length neck with 20 frets that have been given rolled fingerboard edges. This is a nice inclusion for the beginner. Making it easier to ‘rollover’ the fingerboard when making chords.
The neck is also made from Mahogany and has been given a standard Rosewood fingerboard. The neck has been given a gloss urethane finish. There are Pearloid dot inlays in a standard formation. The neck has a fairly standard width and is 1.77 inches at the nut. The frets are what they call the “vintage’ size. This means they are quite small. There are good and bad aspects to that.
Let’s talk about that later…
There can’t really be any complaints so far. The Body and the Neck have good materials, assuming they found the file for the fret edges. And the result will be a great sound. A starter guitar, though? We shall see. Let’s press on…
Every time we review a guitar, we always say the same thing when reaching this point. This is the area where manufacturers cut corners. Sometimes we are wrong. More often than not, though, we are right.
Let’s go straight up top — a glossy black headstock with the logo and some chrome die-cast machine heads. Not the best quality, of course, but this isn’t a top of the range guitar. You wouldn’t expect it. They are sealed backs and will hold the guitar in tune, which is their prime function.
Could do better…
Here we hit the first example of the corners being shaved off the cost. The nut is plastic. You might not expect to see a bone nut, but there are better options. And at this price point, a plastic nut is not such a good inclusion.
Down the other end, the saddle is also plastic on a Rosewood hardtail bridge.
Always a bone of contention for us. People expect their acoustic guitars to sound the same plugged in as they do acoustically. They won’t, and that is the end of it. So if you expect that, it is not going to happen. You can get some top of the range acoustics with good electrics. But even they don’t sound the same as a rich unplugged acoustic.
However, if you need to plug it in to perform, here it is. We do wonder why a starter would need to plug it in to perform, though. If, of course, it is designed for the starter. Welcome to Disneyland.
Fishman pickup and preamp…
Fender has included a straightforward Fishman pickup and preamp. Volume control and treble and bass. So you get a few limited sound options. Most of the sound-shaping is going to come from the amp you use it with. As a starter, you are bound to have one of the great sounding best acoustic guitar amps, aren’t you!
It has a built-in tuner, which is always a good inclusion. The preamp needs a 9-volt battery.
Basic and functional…
Adequate, low-level electrics, they do a very basic job. They are there to amplify your acoustic guitar. They do that but don’t expect too much.
How does it play and sound?
We mentioned earlier about small, ‘vintage’ frets. Just why everything has to be labeled ‘vintage’ we don’t know. If they hadn’t messed around with it in the first place, Fender would still be producing great 60s sounding guitars. Still, they know best. But that’s another story.
Having smaller frets has a major plus and a minus. If they are small, they make playing chords a little easier. They feel more comfortable and take less effort. However, if you want to bend a few notes that are going to be a little bit harder, and it won’t like that much.
A nice easy feel…
It does, though, play quite nicely. It is well-balanced, despite its size, and the rolled edges on the neck give it a nice easy feel.
The sound is actually quite nice. The Spruce and the Mahogany work well together and produce quite a warm, resonant sound. As we said earlier, it will adapt to most styles of playing. Unplugged, it is nice, not the best we’ve heard at this price point by any stretch of the imagination, but quite nice.
When you plug it in, you get what you normally get, a rather thin twangy sound. It won’t take too much volume because of its Dreadnought body size and feedback. Unplugged, we quite like it. Amplified, we don’t.
Fender CD-60SCE Review Pros and Cons
- Full, rich sound.
- Construction is adequate for the price point.
- ‘Vintage’ frets make it easy and fun to play.
- Plastic nut is a letdown.
- ‘Vintage’ frets make it very difficult to bend notes.
- Overpriced, you’re paying for the name on the headstock.
Looking for more superb electro-acoustic and acoustic options?
If so, then take a look at our reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitars under 300 Dollars, the Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners, the Best Acoustic Guitars under 500 Dollars, the Best Acoustic Guitar for Kids, as well as the Best Cheap Acoustic under 200 Dollars you can buy in 2020.
Or, if you’re searching for something more specific, then check out our in-depth reviews of the Taylor GS Mini, the Martin LX1 Little Martin, the Taylor BBT Big Baby, the Epiphone EJ 200SCE, or the excellent the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro.
Fender CD-60SCE Review – What we think?
So, what we have here is a guitar that has a solid wood top and laminated back and sides. Good. A plastic nut. Not good. Reasonable materials overall, what you would expect, and a decent unplugged sound. It is a decent guitar, but without the Fender logo, it would sell for much less.
But let us look a bit closer. Who is this guitar actually for?
It is implied it is for a starter. Its suitability would depend on the age of the starter. Under about 12, it will not be good. The Dreadnought body size will just overwhelm them, and they won’t get to grips with it. Also, they don’t need electrics. Why would they?
An older starter? Possibly a younger teen onwards and the size won’t be a problem, but do people pay this price for a complete beginner? Some might, but I wouldn’t. Not until I was sure they were going to stick with it.
A great option for improvers…
If you look at it from an improvers point of view, it becomes a different guitar. A good sound from the Dreadnought body, and the tonewoods accenting some nice chord playing. They have already mastered the basics, and now they move up a level. This would be where we would pitch this guitar. As a starter, we don’t think so. As an improver, it is good. A little expensive, but a nice guitar.
So it appears Fender are capable of producing a decent lower-level acoustic. It’s just that someone up the management chain is riding around on “it’s a small world”. Ask them to get off and present this as a guitar for someone who is getting better, an improver. Make a smaller one for a young starter, which I believe they do. But this one is for someone ready to advance a little.
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