roadworn

Is Fender “Road Worn” still cool or is it time to give it the boot?

A “Road Worn” Series stringed instrument by Fender is not a “Relic” and is a bit tough to describe, so I’ll use Fender’s own description, which states:

The popular Road Worn series presents 1950s- and 1960s-style Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass and Jazz Bass models bearing notably distressed touches—including worn finishes, aged parts and rusted hardware—that authentically impart the look, feel and vibe of years of well-played, battle-hardened wear and tear. A subsequent addition to the family, Road Worn Player guitars, offers modern features and lighter wear.

For those of you who would ask, “Isn’t Road Worn the same thing as Relic?” Yes and no. Yes, in the respect the instrument has been distressed to create an old look to it, and no in the respect that a lot more attention to detail has been put into Fender Custom Shop Relic guitars compared to Road Worn which – and I know this will sound weird – has “uniform distress” to it in many instances.

In other words, more often than not when you put two Road Worn guitars next to each other side-by-side, the distressing of the instrument is pretty much the same; the same scratching, puck marks, finish wearing/checking and so on will be in the same spots.

The Fender Road Worn 50s Precision Bass model isn’t new and has been around since 2009, so at this point it’s been around for 4 years. And Fender does continue to release new Road Worn models, such as the Mike Dirnt signature model in the video above.

The question, however, is this:

Is Road Worn still cool? Was it ever cool? Or is it time to give it the boot?

I tackled this issue before with Fender guitars that had “Relic” treatment given to them, and you guys and gals spoke loud and clear, saying Relic treatment was a lot to pay for just for something that looked beat up.

Road Worn isn’t nearly as expensive as Custom Shop Relic is. Not by a long shot. However, it is significantly priced higher than a Standard. And by Standard I mean Made-in-Mexico, which both the Standard and Road Worn models are.

It is important to note however that a Road Worn P-Bass will run you (at the time of this writing) almost $400 more compared to a Standard P. And again, remember, these are not American models we’re talking about here.

See for yourself:

standard
Fender Standard Precision Bass

roadworn
Fender Road Worn ’50s Precision Bass

Are there any practical advantages to a Road Worn guitar?

There are three.

First, a Road Worn guitar, while you do have to take proper care of it like any other instrument, is one where you simply don’t care how many dings or dents it gets since it already has them.

Second, you’ll notice the pick guard on the Road Worn Precision Bass does in fact have a few more holes in it compared to the Standard. Note the holes near the heel of the neck where you could install a thumb rest if you wanted one. It should also be noted the pick guard is in fact gold-anodized aluminum.

Third, because it’s a “50s”, the Road Worn does have a 7.25-inch radius fingerboard along with vintage-style skinny frets as well.

I state these things because it means the Road Worn P is not “a P that looks old and beat up”, but rather does have fairly significant differences compared to the Standard P.

On a final note, it should be said that the Fender Classic Series ’50s Precision Bass Lacquer:

classic
(more info)

…is for all intents and purposes the same thing as a Road Worn ’50s without the distressing. Has a nitro finish, the 7.25-inch radius fingerboard, the skinny frets, the same pick guard with the extra holes, and so on.

It’s also the same price as a Road Worn and Made-in-Mexico, but with one extra added feature – it actually comes provided with a tweed hardshell case whereas the Road Worn only comes with a gig bag.

Which would you go with?

The beat-up look of a Road Worn? Or would you kick that to the curb and go with a Standard or Classic instead?

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84 Comments on "Is Fender “Road Worn” still cool or is it time to give it the boot?"


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Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Still cool. These are great basses and a good value for the money.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

yes they are!!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

If it hasn’t EARNED its stripes, it’s not worth it. I can dig an instrument that has been on the road and paid for its scars, but purposely distressing one to make it LOOK road-worn? Why don’t we go to the crafts store and get some antiquing gel and turn it into faux-distressed furniture? Not a fan.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

really?

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

love them. i have four, and they play and feel great.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I love mine. If Fender would make non-Road Worn P’s and J’s with the same thin almost finish-free necks with the similar wood/weight bodies, I would have bought one instead.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Just plain stupid to pay for someone to rub your new bass with sanding paper.
I’ll take a G&L any day. Way better quality for a much nicer price.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

4 years ago I went shopping for a Fender Jazz bass the price was no object (with in reason) The guy at the store said “try this Road Worn jazz – they got it right” I was a little put off by the road worn thing at first but it was the best Fender jazz in the store. I’ve had it for 4 years now and play it all the time (it’s worked out so well that I sold my NYC Sadowsky jazz cus it was just collecting dust)

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

You sold a Sadowsky in favor of a “Road Worn” Fender? Really?

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

! did too.Its not the name its the feel

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I just bought a 50’s Precision, but I got the new version, not the Road Worn. It will look beat up soon enough, I’m afraid!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I hate the whole “Road Worn” and “Relic” concept. However, I’m shocked at how good these insturments feel in your hands-very light and comfy. I don’t own one, but I’m “on -the-fence” about them, as it were.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I would only want a true “road worn” bass not something faked

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

would it matter if it played better than a naturally aged jazz bass?

Anonymous
10 months 17 days ago

You’d pay a lot more for a really old roadworn one. I wasn’t a fan of reliced Basses & guitars, until I tried mine. They had been talked up a lot on forums, and I have to say I’ve never played anything that is as good – even basses twice + three times the price. Don’t knock them till you’ve tried them. The relic may be considered “fake” – but there’s a real feeling of liberation, not minding too much if your bass takes a knock or bump – really liberating, unlike taking out a shiny new mint instrument

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

BOOT, BOOT, BOOT!!!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I think the bottom lines are tone and play-ability. Fender could sell the Road Worn basses before they relic them and they would sell. Everyone seems to love the broken in feel and tone these basses provide.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I also didn’t think much of them until I played one. The road worns I’ve played were consistently lighter than the new version. Also, the necks play great with the finish “worn” off. Not everyone can afford a real vintage bass. Keep em.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

But That Neck Feel on the Road Worn can’t be beat. Do that neck feel and thin finish and forget the scuffs, all would be good :o)

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Keep the light bodies and neck feel,

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Nut Width: Road Worn is 1.75″ (44.45 mm) and Standard is 1.625″ (41.3 mm)

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago
I have never understood the point of a brand new instrument being intentionally beat to hell – let alone paying a premium for it. Regardless of the fact that I prefer instruments to be in great condition, if you have an axe that got beat up because you were on the road with it all those years, you know that every bit of wear and damage is part of your history with it. When find a beat up old gem at a shop, part of the charm is knowing the damage came from countless gigs and unknown adventures – and… Read more »
Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I would never pay money for a new guitar that simply LOOKS beat up. If I’m putting down a large sum of money, I want that sucker to look brand new. If I’m buying a “road-worn” guitar, it better be because it has history, is a collectible, and/or I’m getting it for cheap.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Nut Width: Road Worn is 1.75″ (44.45 mm) and Standard is 1.625″ (41.3 mm). Still cool!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I have.road worn jazz its a really good bass.You have to forget about the distressed look,it doesnt really matter more than its great playability,it should be overlooked.I had my bass setup good,put a wood shim in the neck now this bass is for sure a keeper.All in all out of the basses fender puts out these day,this one plays better than them all.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

true scars have stories you can’t buy

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

what difference does it make if the bass plays great.True scars? Give me a break.scar is a scar,they were all put there by somebody some how

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago
If that’s what you’re into that’s cool. Personally, if I was aiming for the “distressed look” I’d do it myself (not that the other features of this bass should be ignored). Seems to me that Fender has been really splitting hairs and doing their best to expand lines without any real innovation -or at least variety. Give the consumer more options, neck styles and variations, coloring, and if you’re buying direct: string options. Personally, I’d like to see a Tina Weymouth signature Mustang bass or perhaps a bass in the Pawn shop series that I would actually buy (reversed P/J… Read more »
Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Absolutely love my RW Jazz bass. Compared the sound and playability to a $3000 Custom shop bass and the biggest difference was the price. These are extremely well made basses. Great weight and feel. The necks are same as the CS ones. High recommend.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

yep theyre on par

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Although the wear is clearly artificial, I prefer the feel of the Road Worns over new Fenders with thick poly finishes, which feel “plasticky” to me. The Road Worns sound good and are about the right weight, but generally they require some setup to play up to their potential.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

if someone has the bucks…..but really, i’d rather put the wear and tear on it myself. however they do sell jeans and other crap already beat up and they seem to cost more….who cares if the people sandblasting the denim get lung disease. i personally like to hotrod my own equipment, so my money goes for what i want. save your money and buy a REAL RELIC.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Good day, I actualy have a roadworn p, but I replaced the mez pic-up with Seymour Duncan antiquity II, the pots and jack with CTS &Switchcraft and put TI Flat string on it, and the result is fantastic.
Andre
Montréal Canada

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago
After 40 years of playing Fenders for a living I have to say that if you get a good lightweight Roadworn it will serve you very well. You may or may not want to change out the pickups, pots, etc. to suit your personal taste but the feel and tone are all there, these models feel like a well broken in instrument. I own several vintage Fenders and several Custom Shop Relics as well. They’re great but I leave them at home or only take them to the studio. A Roadworn is what I take to a live gig these… Read more »
Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago
It looks beat to hell and costs more than the American Standard? It’s a waste of money. I own real, old, worn Fender P and Jazz Basses and they do feel nice in the hands but, their age and the distress to finish and hardware was come by honestly. Everybody is so into this old guitar thing and I have to wonder why? If anybody out there is that into old and distressed I have the perfect GMC pickup and I’ll only charge you $5,000 above the blue book value. If you’re willing to pay more for a “Relic or… Read more »
Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Earn Your Stripes, be it the player or the bass, better yet, both.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I hate these basses. I love my Fender pbass, but it’s like cheating. I have no respect for anyone who doesn’t take the time to break in your bass (the worn look is a earned badge of honor and of time well spent). As for relics and the people who treats their interment like crap, they are, and who would want that. If you would like a well worn bass I suggest that you spend some time in the woodshed. Learning your bass and craft is the best part, so why fake it.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago
As a former senior master builder in the custom shop,back in 2005 when I left, the RELIC nitro was different than NOS nitro. Both were McFadden , but formulated different. Also, the CC and NOS would have a WLS brand satin urethane undercoat sealing the bare wood . Urethane doesn’t breath like lacquer. As far as Mexico, I have no idea what there using. I see what Fender USA / CS and MIM producing these days. My opinion is that Fender doesn’t make guitars any more, they make money and guitars are the by product. Many of these models should… Read more »
Anonymous
2 years 2 months ago

I hate the fake wear etc…BUT!! these darn basses are absolutely amazing instruments. I found once I started playing my Jazz I soon forgot about the finish. It felt so good and sounded fantastic and Im gonna get it re-finished black one day which for me will make it a lifetime keeper.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Not a fan of the Roadworn look, but I love how they sound and feel. Not sure if I’d spend my hard earned $$ on one, but they sure are nice players.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

the road worn is an awesome bass for the money.Purist need to forget the distressed because in a nut shell al the best fenders were made before CBS,took over.But the road worn is giving all the fenders after a run for their money.Awesome neck on this beast,plays like a dream!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Junk it! If I want a “road worn” bass I am perfectly capable of abusing it myself thank you. Paying extra money for someone to sand off the finish and hit it with a hammer is a joke. What a scam!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

In my opinion IS A WAIST OF MONEY.. Because you have to buy it new and then use it, then the bass will have a history, a character, you own DNA because you made it like that, then is going to be worth much more. That is my opinion.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

seems to me me you don’t like great playing basses

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I find it strange that when buying new, the beat up appearance attracts a premium. When buying a genuine old bass, you would pay a premium for perfect condition! Madness.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Lame, Fender should of kept the 22 and 24 fret deluxe jazz basses and the more modern p basses. I’ve played them, love them but didn’t buy. I missed the boat on those. IMHO, I’d rather buy a Squire instead.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Gold Lame’ do the work yourself kids.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

If you don’t like it, then why would you even care? I mean really, it’s no different than ragging out about some color you don’t like.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

POSER !!!!! never was cool. never will be.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I love mine, as long as folks like them and find a value, keep selling them. Those of you that don’t want them, the last time I looked, there was no one forcing anyone to take them. So before you call the people who find value in them, and call people stupid for having them, STFU!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Yah. Gimme the lacquered USA bass.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I purchased one about a year ago. Let me explain why. It wasn’t because of the relic aesthetic finish. It didn’t grab me. However, after playing a bunch of MIM pbass’s (yes, I’m on a budget), the roadworn had the best feel in my hands and the tone was awesome! This is why I own a roadworn.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Its important to remember the Road Worn 50’s Precision bass is the Classic 50’s Precision bass with the distressing. Either one is a better instrument than the MIM Standard Precision bass. Much better.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

It’s frickin’ tacky! It’s the “acid-wash” of guitar cosmetics. We’re all musicians, right? We can wear out our own instruments without some fake pre-aging to help us along, no? As much as I admired Sting’s beat-up 50’s P-bass, I would rather have my instrument age on its own without having to fake it. Tacky, tacky, tacky!! Only a dork would want a fake “relic” instrument.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I’m sure they are great players and all, but to me it’s the visual equivalent of lip-synching.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Pre-ripped jeans…

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

Why would someone pay extra money for a beat up looking bass?Buy a new one go out put your own miles on it!!

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

They look neat, but as someone said above, to faux distress an instrument sounds like jive. I’d rather buy a brand-new beauty and beat it up myself by using it for about 20 years.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

They are good basses but I prefer a ‘Road worn’ that comes by it’s wear & tear naturally. It took 44 years for me to get my 68′ Fender Jazz where it is today. The only bass I’ve ever bought and owned, will celebrate it’s 45 birthday this November. Will pass it on to my son when I pass on.

Anonymous
2 years 10 months ago

I,ve had a roadworn Fender Jazz for 3 years and it plays better than any current American Fender Jazz. Ive also fitted Lindy Fralin pick ups and this takes to a whole new level with a sound to match the playabilty, I never like the tacky distressing so will be getting it refinished like new when i,ve got the money.
The perfect Jazz bass for me.
Basshead…….

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