Unleash the Beast: Inside the Alternate Reality Powercaster
The freshly-designed Powercaster was built from the ground up for high-octane musical fun and the ultimate in tonal versatility. Read how it came to fruition.
By Mike Duffy
About eight years ago, Alex Perez from Fender's research and development team dreamt up a new take on the Jazzmaster- and Jaguar-style guitars that the world has loved for over six decades.
But for a long time, it was just a dream.
Now, as part of Fender's limited-edition Alternate Reality Series, Perez's vision has come to fruition in the freshly designed Powercaster, a guitar that truly lives up to its name.
The Powercaster boasts an offset body reminiscent of the Jazzmaster, built for comfort with sleek arm and neck heel contours. It's also built for plenty of power, with a massive-sounding Atomic humbucking pickup in the bridge position and an articulate single-coil soapbar pickup in the neck position.
To get to this point, Perez and his Powercaster went through several iterations.
"We started messing around it back in 2010-11," said Perez, who built the Jim Root Jazzmaster that was released in 2014 and John 5's original signature Telecaster in 2004, among many others. "That was around the same time [Fender designer] Josh Hurst started designing the Meteora. I've probably built 10 or 12 versions of the Powercaster, and almost every variation has evolved."
Perez explained that the original concept featured two humbuckers, but he eventually landed on the MP-90 soapbar pickup/humbucker combination, giving the tone a bit of an edge - perfect for slashing through a dense mix.
He also included a roasted maple neck with 22 frets and a 24.75" scale length, a pau ferro fretboard and an Adjusto-matic bridge with a stop tailpiece.
"I just liked the shape of those guitars, and the cooked neck sounds great with that pickup configuration," Perez said. "The roasted maple definitely brings out the clarity.
"It's a unique sound that really works well. I just wanted it to be something I would play."
That feeling was shared by many who saw a Powercaster prototype or two sitting in Perez's office at the Fender factory in Corona, Calif.
"Artists would stop by his office couldn't keep their hands off it," confirmed Fender Senior Product Development Manager for Electric Guitars/Basses Allen Abbassi.
For Perez, the notion of having a truly original creation hit the market is exciting.
"It's always awesome and a great feeling … almost like having a kid," he said with a laugh. "You have an idea, and then it becomes real. I'm just happy everyone else gets to enjoy it."