When it comes to guitar playing, Brad Paisley is a master of illusion in many ways, effortlessly coaxing incredible lead runs and sweet tones from his instrument. Now, the Grammy-winning songwriter can add master guitar-builder illusionist to his bag of tricks with the release of the Fender Brad Paisley Signature Esquire, a lightweight Telecaster style guitar that features a “Secret Agent” hidden pickup.
By outward appearances it looks like there is only one pickup on this guitar. But a stealthily placed pickup- underneath the pickguard near the neck – adds extra versatility to a meat and potatoes guitar that will find itself at home whether you play country, jazz, swing, rock or hard rock.
Our correspondent and Nashville artist Matthew Szlachetka gave the signature model a thorough run-through in our video below.
“One thing I love about this guitar is the variety of different tones you can get from the two pickups,” Szlachetka says in the video. “The middle setting has the classic Tele ‘spank’ to it. I’ve also noticed the closer you play to the bridge gets you that hot Tele bite.”
“I’m really impressed with the versatility of this guitar,” he added. “It’s a great option for one of those grab-and-go gig scenarios where you can only bring one guitar. This guitar allows you to play jazz, blues, country, Americana, rock and roll or hard rock with ease. It’s a comfortable, worn-in feeling guitar that’s easy to play and makes you feel like you’ve had it your whole life.”
The guitar’s body is a lightweight paulownia and spruce material finished in a black sparkle Road Worn Lacquer. The maple neck has a 9.5” radius for easy playability and a classic V-shaped profile, which falls in line with the guitar’s heritage. Other features on this Mexican factory-made model include American Professional compensated saddles in a vintage bridge, a black and silver paisley-patterned pickguard and a bridge pickup designed by Fender’s Tim Shaw.
Paisley worked directly with pickup designer Seymour Duncan to create a hidden Secret Agent pickup underneath the pickguard by the neck. This pickup doesn’t take away from the overall aggressive vibe of an Esquire.
Paisley described the pickup selection in further detail in his own video for Fender, noting it was specifically designed to pick up the strings without pulling too much on them, allowing the full, free vibration that typically happens with an Esquire. “What you’ve got a guitar that is focused on the bridge and on that thing that happens with a Telecaster- a combination of magnetics, metal, wood and resonance and connectivity between the neck and bridge plate. You don’t have the encumbrance of a pickup that’s pulling down on the strings (up near the neck). It allows everything to go aggressively between the cable and amplifier and it’s just a punch in the face.”
“The Esquire® is a streamlined, working-man’s guitar,” Paisley said. “It’s really important to me that you hear an echo of the past in the stuff that I do, and in that sense, this guitar encompasses what I try to do musically. It has a retro feel, but at the same time, it’s progressive, with a new style of pickup that hasn’t been done before.”
Paisley’s own guitar style is always full of unique twists and turns. With his new Fender Brad Paisley Signature Esquire, he’s applied the same creative approach, working with Fender to design a versatile, new guitar that’s much more than a one-trick pony.
Street price: $1399.99
Matthew Szlachetka’s artist website: www.szlachetkamusic.com