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Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII  ·  Source: Fender/YouTube

This time, it took a little bit longer before the leaked product was officially announced. But the wait was worth it, because the coveted Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII is even cheaper than hoped. But does it sound any good?

Stairway to Heaven

What do The Byrds, Velvet Underground, The Who and of course Jimmy Page (at least on Stairway to Heaven) have in common? They all took up the Fender Electric XII, which debuted in 1965. This electric 12-string and its unique design became popular for a time during the late ’60s. However, demand tailed off and production was stopped after just five years.

Hockey stick headstock

So what’s the Alternate Reality Electric XII all about? The foundations are an alder body, a modern C-shaped maple neck with a pau ferro fretboard.  Then you get vintage style, slightly ‘ugly duckling’ hockey stick headstock. Odd as it looks compared to other Fender headstock designs, it is vintage-correct.

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII Olympic White

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII Olympic White

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII Lake Placid Blue

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII Lake Placid Blue

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII 3-Tone Sunburst

Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII 3-Tone Sunburst

Split Coil

The split-coil pickups were specially developed for this guitar, Fender says. Instead of a four-position rotary switch, the new guitars have been fitted with a handy 3-way toggle switchVolume and tone complete the control set-up. Fortunately, the hardtail bridge has 12 individual saddles, which is a huge help for keeping the intonation on track with so many strings.

Setup fun… not

These 12 string guitars are notorious for being a pain in the rear to set up. So if you’re thinking of jumping onto the 12-string bus, be warned! Especially when it comes to changing strings or string gauges…

I think the official demo video doesn’t sound that great to my ear. But that could just be the recording setup being used for the video. In the last 10 years or so, I have only played a handful of original ’60s Fender Electric XIIs and they were all a little temperamental, with some not playing well with certain recording set-ups.

The new Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII  is available in Lake Placid Blue, Olympic White and 3-Tone Sunburst finishes. I’m going to have to try one of these out myself at some point, as 12-string guitars can be a lot of fun to play, even if they are a PITA to setup!

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by Jef

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William Paxson
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Why not, they’ve reissued just about every other guitar they’ve ever made that didn’t sell and nobody wanted.


Mike G
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I had hear the 12 string used in “Stairway to Heaven” was a Rickenbacker 360/12. This Fender is cerainly priced more affordably than Ric, and a good sounding too, but the Ric rules is this arena… The Beatles, The Who, The Byrds, etc..the Ric 360/12 was the sound of the 60’s. This guitar is a good alternative for the price.


Bearpaws
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Bearpaws

Erh, no it wasn’t. Page is quoted as saying Stairway was played on a Fender 12. He then had to buy the Gibson double neck in order to play the song live.