You don’t have to be a guitar expert to know that Fender make a great guitar – they are a household name! But you don’t need to purchase a full-size model from their $1000 Paramount series to get the full Fender acoustic experience for your child. Their steel-string MA-1 is an affordable child-friendly guitar that offers a good mix of playability, style and – at under $150 – value. Let’s check out what makes it so popular with kids and adults alike.
Fender’s MA-1 offers a very clean, no-nonsense look with a traditional 3/4 scale parlor body, with a 23.3” scale length. For the entry-level price you won’t find any solid woods here, but the guitar does sport classic X-bracing on the agathis top, with a very attractive laminated sapele back and sides, all dressed with a sleek and sophisticated satin finish. The compact body is comfortable for smaller players, as is the neck, which sports a small 1.69” nut width and a C-shaped profile. This neck is made from nato, and features the same comfortable satin finish as the body, with a rosewood fretboard and 18 frets (with 12 in the clear). At this price it’s clearly no custom shop model, but the MA-1 still demonstrates decent build quality and feels pretty durable.
The MA-1 also shows off some decent hardware that adds to its quality feel and keeps playability smooth for any child. On the headstock, which proudly displays the iconic Fender logo, sit a set of sealed die-cast chrome tuners which are smooth to use and keep tuning stable. The guitar also sports a solid rosewood bridge, a compensated saddle, a synthetic bone nut, and a set of light gauge Fender Dura-Tone strings – all quality additions at this price point. Finally the MA-1 comes complete with a gig bag for ease of transporting to school or lessons.
Most beginners won’t really give a second thought to the tone or resonance of their first acoustic, but regardless this Fender sounds good. There’s a balanced crisp and clean tone, with a little mellow warmth thanks to the mahogany-like sapele back and sides. It lacks a bit of presence, which is to be expected with a 3/4 scale parlor guitar, but still projects more than enough to be heard in lessons and practice.
Opting for a Fender over some of the smaller brands may give your child the extra incentive to practice, although the MA-1 is more than just about having the Fender name on your headstock. It looks sleek and stylish, offers a very comfortable playing experience, and sounds better than many starter guitars in a similar price range. Its quality build also makes it a viable option for adults looking for a reliable little travel companion – why should kids have all the fun?