REVIEWS

Fender Ed O'Brien Sustainer Stratocaster

Published 6 years ago on October 20, 2018

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

The tone is fat and muscular in every position, and while there’s not a whole lot of that classic strat sparkle and spank, the tones that are there are diverse and powerful with enough punch to carry through the most effects-laden sounds.

Nick Jennison

PROS:

Sustainer is hugely inspiring

Classic Strat looks

CONS:

Additional “modern” Strat design features would be nice

Guitar Interactive star rating: 4 stars

Fender Ed O'Brien Sustainer Stratocaster

MSRP (UK) £979  (US) $1,099

Ed O’Brien’s ambient, ethereal and orchestral guitar style is an essential part of the sonic identity of Radiohead. Fender has partnered with this groundbreaking player to create the EOB signature Stratocaster. A mix of modern and classic features designed to inspire the user creating lush, layered soundscapes and help you find your own creative voice. Nick Jennison finds out more.

Anybody who knows anything about Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien will know that he’s a very creative guitar player indeed. Much like his ever-evolving band, O’Brien is continually searching for new and exciting textures and sounds from his guitar. If listening alone doesn’t convince you, one look at his gargantuan pedalboard will. It’s no wonder that a collaboration between Ed and Fender has resulted in a uniquely inspiring instrument, thanks to the inclusion of a Fernandes Sustainer pickup.

The Sustainer is a device for generating infinite sustain, and it does so by creating a magnetic field that physically vibrates the strings; a bit like a built-in Ebow. The difference here is that, unlike with an Ebow, you can sustain multiple strings at once, and your right hand is free for the act of playing the guitar. It’s a very addictive experience! Synth-like pads and portamento leads are only a switch away, as is the kind of soaring lead sustain that typically only comes from standing next to a blaring stack. It’s awesome.

The sustainer is controlled by two switches on the lower bout (where you’d expect to find the jack socket on a traditional Strat) and a single pot (where the bridge/middle tone pot normally is). The first switch engages the sustainer, and in the doing so it bypasses the five-way pickup selector and goes straight to the bridge humbucker. The second moves between three sustainer “modes” - fundamental, harmonic and a blend of the two. Set to “fundamental”, the notes you play ring out forever completely unmolested. In “harmonic”, the pitch quickly leaps up an octave (or more) for screaming upper partials. The “blend” setting yields a natural-sounding blend of the two, much like the feedback you’d expect from playing really, really loud. The pot controls the intensity of the sustainer effect, from subtle to raging.

While the sustainer is unquestionably the star of the show, this guitar is far from a one-trick pony. It comes stock with a Seymour Duncan JB Jr. in the bridge position and a Texas Special in the middle, while the Sustainer functions as a fat-sounding single coil when disengaged. The tone is fat and muscular in every position, and while there’s not a whole lot of that classic strat sparkle and spank, the tones that are there are diverse and powerful with enough punch to carry through the most effects-laden sounds.

Playability is good, but not great, although I’m certain that a professional setup would go a long way to addressing this. The action was quite high, and there was a little too much relief in the neck. Normally I’d fix these issues without a second thought, but the Sustainer’s operation requires precise distance from the strings, and the truss rod adjustment would require taking the neck off - something I can’t understand on any guitar that’s not a recreation of a vintage instrument. The frets are tall and very well finished, but the lack of a 22nd fret is disappointing, especially considering there’d be no downside to including one.

These issues pale into insignificance compared to the wonder that is the sustainer pickup though. Its inclusion transforms the guitar into a totally unique instrument that - in the hands of the right player - is capable of genuinely groundbreaking results.

SPECS

Alder Body

10/56 “V” Shape Maple neck

Pickups: Duncan JB Jr. (Bridge), Texas Special Single-Coil Strat (Middle),

Sustainer Driver (Neck)

Special Electronics: Active Sustainer Driver/Pickup

For more information, please visit:

Fender.com

 


YOU MAY LIKE

ADVERTISEMENT

LATEST

21 Bands Not to Miss at This Year's Download Festival | Feature

Nothing More's Mark Vollelunga on Embracing the "Raw" and "Real" with 'Carnal' | Interview

Boss Katana-Air EX Wireless Guitar Amp | Review

Mooer Tender Octave X2 | Review

Sterling by Music Man St. Vincent Goldie | Review

Cort Abstract Delta Masterpiece Series | Review

JET Guitars JT600 | Review

Third Man Hardware x Donner Triple Threat Pedal | Review

PRS 2024 SE CE 24 Satin | Review

Eddie 9V Delivers an Electrifying and Soulful Performance at The Grace, London — May 13th 2024 | Live Review

Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson and Ben Wells talk new album and more | Interview

Music Man 2024 Axis Super Sport | Review

Aria Pro II 714-GTR Fullerton | Review

Taylor Guitars 50th Anniversary GS mini Rosewood SB | Review

Danelectro Fifty Niner Guitar - Gold Top | Review

Music Man 2024 Axis | Review

Jackson Soloist SLA 3 | Review

Gibson Theodore Standard | Review

VICTORY V1 COPPER | REVIEW

Kenny Wayne Shepherd on "Finding His Voice" on the Guitar, Musical Legacy, & 'Dirt on My Diamonds' | Interview

Steve Rosen on Eddie Van Halen, The Stories Behind 'Tonechaser' & The Lost EVH Interview | Feature

GURUS DOUBLEDECKER MK II DOUBLE MIAB DRIVE EFFECT PEDAL | REVIEW

DOD Boneshaker | Review

Vintage ProShop V75 Unique | Review

Ciari Ascender P90 Duo | Review

Top magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram