Guitarists know Nile Rodgers as funkmaster general of Chic, but he looms even larger as a Grammy-winning producer whose skill has helped sell more than 500 million albums. Fender’s Artist Series Hitmaker Stratocaster honors him with a reproduction of the guitar he used on countless hit songs.
The Olympic White alder body on Nile’s hardtail guitar varied from a typical ’60s Strat, being slightly smaller, thinner, and more-contoured. This one follows on all counts. Also per the Niles guitar, its one-piece maple neck (with maple fretboard) carries the 1959 version of a C shape, with a 9.5″ radius, medium jumbo frets, satin finish, and a Nile Rodgers/Chic logo on the back of the headstock. The three single-coil pickups are custom-voiced to replicate the originals, and sit in a mirrored/chrome-plated brass pickguard with white Gibson-style “speed” knobs. It also boasts Sperzel locking tuners.
Plugged in, the Hitmaker is a no-nonsense funk machine that delivers all the goodies one would expect. It’s comfortable, though the smaller neck width brings a different feel that may not appeal to larger hands. It has an authentic Strat sound yielding all kinds of cluck, quack, chime, and nuance. The string-through-body gives a solid tone that stays in tune.
Perfect for chord work of any genre, the Hitmaker is also great for soloing; its sounds sparkle when touched by overdrive, delivering tones with the expected clarity.
This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.