The Big Review: Fender Player Plus Meteora HH – A versatile guitar for the modern musician
Although the preliminary sketches for the Fender Meteora were drawn way back in 2011, the guitar wasn’t put into production until later that decade, launching as a striking new limited-edition model as part of Fender’s 2018 Parallel Universe series. That version, developed by the ingenious researcher Josh Hurst, was arguably less radical than this updated 2022 model.
READ MORE: RudeTech Falcondrive! review: All your gain stacking needs in one super-rad box
Indeed, despite Hurst’s vision for an instrument that was both familiar to the Fender catalogue but also futuristic and angular, the Parallel Universe Meteora was mostly viewed as an overzealous reimagining of a Telecaster brain in a Jazzmaster body. It was two historic models in one modernist, boundary-pushing design – in theory at least.
The 2018 Meteora featured Custom Shop Tele pickups, 1970s-style block inlays and even a black, bakelite-esque pickguard that echoed the design principles of 1952. So far, so familiar. However, its intrigue lay in the brand-new offset body shape; a striking design that expanded on the Jazzmaster shape, pushed and pulled to its limits.
Now that it’s been permanently incorporated into the Fender family as part of the Player Plus series, which was launched in September 2021, the Player Plus Meteora HH fully embraces the demands of the 21st-century guitarist. Foregoing the vintage-inspired specs of the Parallel Universe model, this Player Plus version falls in line with other guitars in the range, with locking tuners, rolled fretboard edges and even a 12-inch fretboard.
Traditionalists – or luddites, depending on your philosophical bend – might baulk at the addition of a 12-inch radius ’board on a Fender guitar. But, coupled with the Modern C neck shape and medium-jumbo frets, it’s perfectly suited to a guitar marketed at younger players, where diversity and genre-fluidity is the name of the game.
Elsewhere you’ll find a two-point vibrato with steel saddles, a three-way toggle switch, two tone pots and a master volume pot, which houses the S-1 switch that coil-splits both the neck and bridge humbuckers. The humbuckers are the newly designed Fireball pickups, which Fender says are wound to complement individual string clarity while offering enough gain to lift lead playing. Don’t be fooled by their chrome covers though – despite their appearance, these are not reissues of the Wide Range humbuckers found on Thinline models of yesteryear.
As with the 2021 Player Plus range, the Meteora HH comes in various colourways, both polarising and comforting. Cosmic Jade and Belair Blue will surely be embraced by those riding the current wave of 1980s and 1990s nostalgia, and there’s also a neat three-colour sunburst for those who aren’t as bold. The inclusion of a Silverburst version, initially a special-edition option on Fender’s Special Run Am Pro models in 2017, is a nice touch.
Finally, the satin urethane finish on the tinted maple neck has a remarkably premium feel. While it doesn’t compare to some boutique offerings we’ve played, and there are some noticeable finish blemishes around the 7th and 12th frets, remember that this is a Mexican-made guitar that comes in at under £1,000. Apply the right filter on your social media platform of choice while you’re laying down some neo-soul and you could easily convince your legions of fans that this is indeed a posh, torrefied neck.
Despite this, there are some small appointments that leave us wanting more, notably the wobbly three-way pickup selector and the excessive amount of protective plastic on the pickguard and each individual tuner – also noted in our initial Player Plus review – which seems ignorant in the face of the ongoing climate crisis. The now dated Deluxe gigbag is perfectly serviceable but a more ergonomic, padded version wouldn’t go amiss, particularly when you note the quality of soft cases that are shipped with models from rival brands. Fender currently offers an option to upgrade to a hardcase with any Vintera model, and it would be great to see this rolled out across all its flagship ranges.
Despite its rather large lower bout, the Meteora HH is remarkably balanced in a seated position, and equally comfortable when hung on a strap. There is some perceptible weight here but not enough to see you struggle through a live performance – unless you’re planning on exceeding your local venue’s discernibly un-punk curfew.
Before plugging in, there’s a noticeable resonance below the bridge, which is encouraging, and the Modern C maple neck is effortlessly comfortable in the hand. Plugging into our Paul Rivera-designed Fender Super 60, the Fireball humbuckers offer a precise richness and clarity, and the neck pickup has a smooth, slightly compressed quality that lends itself to arpeggio patterns and lead playing.
The bridge pickup has more growl on tap but there can be too much treble when striking a simple chord passage, though that could be fixed with heavier strings (Fender ships this model with a 0.009mm set, which may be too light for some). Engaging the S-1 switch, we’re met with a wirier single-coil voice, with grit and attack aplenty. Moving to the middle position evens out the tone, providing the perfect rhythmic bed, with a characterful honk. Returning to the neck position but keeping the coil-split engaged allows for a vintage-inspired tonality that encourages us to finally add in some overdrive – and that’s where this guitar shines.
Smashing Pumpkins tones are just a minor seventh away and, given the contemporary nature of this instrument, you can easily lean into your inner alt-rock hero or veer left and unleash your deep-rooted love for Dick Dale. If you find yourself weighing heavily on the vibrato arm – once you’ve ensured your headband is secure, of course – fear not, there are no noticeable issues with tuning thanks to the neatly cut nut and aforementioned locking tuners.
Whether you’re looking for a gateway into the offset world, a guitar that stands out on stage or a flexible studio instrument, the Player Plus Meteora, thanks to its striking good looks and varied wiring system akin to a painter’s palette, is a seriously versatile option.
PRICE £999 (inc gigbag)
DESCRIPTION Double-cutaway solidbody electric guitar, made in Mexico
BUILD Contoured alder body, bolt-on maple neck with 12” radius fretboard, 22 medium-jumbo frets, synthetic bone nut
HARDWARE 2-point six-saddle vibrato, Fender rear-locking tuners
ELECTRICS 2x Fireball humbucking pickups, three-way pickup selector, volume control, two tone controls, S-1 switch
SCALE LENGTH 25.5” (648mm)
NECK WIDTH 42.8mm at nut, 51.00mm at 12th fret
NECK DEPTH 21.2mm at first fret, 22.6mm at 12th fret
STRING SPACING 36.8mm at nut, 53.8mm at bridge
FINISH OPTIONS Three-Colour sunburst (as reviewed), Belair Blue, Cosmic Jade, Silverburst
Like this? Try these
Player Plus Stratocaster HSS £979
Reverend Double Agent W £799
Sterling by Music Man St. Vincent HH £799
The post The Big Review: Fender Player Plus Meteora HH – A versatile guitar for the modern musician appeared first on Guitar.com | All Things Guitar.