We rock out with the LEGO Ideas 21329 Fender Stratocaster Guitar [Review]

Once again the LEGO Ideas team gave the public what they had voted for and this time they had acquired a license with Fender to produce a faithful facsimile of the Fender Stratocaster. The Stratocaster, or the “Strat” as it’s affectionately called, is one of the most iconic electric guitars of all time (it’s within the top two!). Tomáš Letenay is the fan designer for this set, but does LEGO’s interpretation of his design crank the awesomeness up to eleven or does it fall a bit F-flat? Our guitar enthusiast reviewer gets his hands on a copy to find out. LEGO Ideas 21329 Fender Stratocaster consists of 1,074 pieces and retails for US $99 | CAN $139.99 | UK £99 and is available October 1.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

The box design is primarily black, which has been consistent with LEGO Creator Expert, some LEGO Ideas, and the adult set theme as of late. Also consistent is the greebly banner across the bottom of the box, this time in red. The red LEGO Fender Stratocaster rests handsomely on a stand and is situated next to a Princeton Reverb-Amp, also a Fender product. An effects pedal sits between them. A fun Easter egg I discovered on the front of the box is a red acoustic guitar piece within the red greebly strip along the bottom leading me to believe that I probably should have been paying attention to those all along. Not quite an Easter egg, but in very small print near the bottom of the box, there is a caption that states; Choose to build your guitar in red OR black.

The back and side panel of the box showcases the black alternative build nicely. In the background but faded a bit is a real Stratocaster in red.

Once opened the box contained twelve numbered bags, plus an additional bag containing six LEGO strings and five LEGO flex tubes in dark silver. There are also two long bits of flex hose situated loosely in the box as well as an instruction book and two sticker sheets, all sheathed within a plastic wrap.

The build

The 179-page instruction book starts off with the history of Fender and showcases the three guitars that made Fender what it is today. They are Precision Bass, the Telecaster, and the best-selling Stratocaster. From there, the book introduces Tomáš Letenay, who is the fan designer. He is a Slovakian architect and interior designer and an avid music fan who plays drums and guitar for a band. Next, the book showcases three prominent LEGO designers who are also guitarists. They are Marin Stipković, Ricardo Dias and Beatrice Amoretti.

From there the book gets into the heart of the build. A section illustrates how to properly use the included Brick Separator but then informs us that bag one will take care of the stand and bag two builds the neck headstock and pickups. Bag three, four, six, and seven build the red guitar while bags three, five, six, and eight handle the black one, with bags three and six in common. Bags nine through twelve handles the amplifier and stomp pedal.

I’ve found the stand to be a pretty straightforward build that combines Technic with regular System bricks. It is sturdy, foldable, and adjustable. Rubber feet on the section that actually holds the guitar prevents slippage and were a nice touch, in my opinion.

I began to see many practical uses for this stand outside of the set including a way to exhibit your favorite framed photos or art and even a way to display a heavy-ish hardcover book such as this one. (I have no idea where the book’s minifigure went or if I was ever in possession of it in the first place.)

The neck and pickups begin to take shape with bag two. The back of the neck features inverse tiles in tan for a smooth, stud-free surface.

Bag two also introduces the set’s only printed pieces, in this case, three 1×3 tiles act as the pickups while three 2×6 tiles, as well as a 2×3 tile, comprise the fingerboard. A 1×4 slope features the Fender logo upside-down on the brick. This will eventually become part of the headstock.

Guitarists may know the proper placement of the frets and fret markers on the fingerboard however the layman builder may have difficulty distinguishing where each tile begins and ends. The edges of the tiles are hard to see in the instructions and are not each highlighted in green as the other steps are. The only helper here is a separate callout indicating where to place the twelfth fret, the one that is unique from the rest as denoted by two dots instead of one. A callout for each tile or a bright green outline around each may alleviate some of the guesswork here. Once this has been worked out it is time to decide whether to build the red or the black guitar. Since red comes first sequentially, I will go with that one.

Bags three and four build a rather interesting and complex structure with studs on different planes facing in nearly every direction. This then gets bricked into the neck and pickup area.

The next section requires you to open the unnumbered bag that houses the six LEGO strings and five flex tubes as illustrated in the photo. From here you build a structure that becomes the core of the guitar and situates five strings (not six) one stud lower than the last. This becomes crucial later in order to properly string the guitar. Each string is also designated a different color 1×1 round plate. It is important to keep these colors in the right order.

The core structure is then placed onto your guitar body with the strings extended out as illustrated.

As illustrated here, the sixth string is then supported by two lime green 1×1 round plates and situated rather oddly onto a single stud on the guitar body that faces inward. The other end of this string is given a blue color designation.

Paying careful attention to which groove of the rack gear each sting is assigned to, the strings are then looped around the front of the guitar and each pinned onto studs on the headstock that ascends from the neck and incrementally further out. If done in the correct order the string color designations along the headstock should be gold, red, white, green, yellow, and blue. The directions tell you to snap off each colored 1×1 round plate, tighten the strings by turning the heads counter-clockwise, then replacing the colorful markers with gray ones. Doing it exactly this way, however, proved to be a point of contention. It took several tries but I found it to be easier to work each string one at a time, first removing the color tab, replacing it with its gray counterpart, then tighten the string onto its appropriate stud on the headstock.

Bags six will flesh out the guitar’s core, pickguard, tuning pegs, and other dials and gadgets that will also be shared with the black color modification while bag seven will give the red guitar body its distinctive Stratocaster shape. The instructions don’t call for this until much later but bag six contains a small square box that has four round holes in a pattern resembling the top of a 2×2 brick. It’s a neat design for sure, but several steps later I was quite certain there were pieces missing. On a hunch, I opened the small box to find not only the guitar strap, but two pieces I thought were missing that had crept in through the holes. My recommendation is once you open bag six, also open this box immediately to eliminate possible frustration later.

This section also contains a new brick not seen in any set before. It’s a 1×2 brick with a curved slope cutout. There are four in red and we’ll learn later that there are also four in black.

Complex curves help flesh out the Stratocaster’s distinctive shape.

The first instance in which a sticker is used goes on the back of the guitar on a 2×3 light bluish-gray tile that resembles the engraved plate that bolts the neck onto the body. The tuning pegs are built onto the back of the headstock and, while not functional, end up looking best when randomly orientated as illustrated here.

Some other finishing touches are added including the whammy bar, jackhole, and guitar strap that has a repeating pattern of yellow and dark orange 2×2 bricks alternating between the Fender logo. The guitar is now finished and feels sturdy even when holding it by the strap. It looks quite handsome when placed on its stand.

The next part of the instruction book deals with the black body color modification but we will skip that section for now and head to bag nine and page 117 to start building the amp. It begins straightforward enough. 1×8 plates in tan and bright magenta are used in order to establish fore and aft orientation but both are eventually covered up entirely. Early in the amplifier build, we are also introduced to a fun bit of corrugated flex hose that resides behind transparent bricks but soon becomes nearly obscured. The side walls go up to establish the amp’s shape.

A structure is built to accommodate eighty-six 1×2 grilled tiles in light bluish-gray that comprise the iconic face of the standard Fender amplifier. By this point, I had begun to wish these tiles and other parts of the guitar were metallic silver to better match Fender amps and guitars in real life. The part does indeed exist and, to my knowledge, the color has not yet been discontinued. A sticker is used to adorn the 2×4 tile placed at an angle to replicate the Fender logo.

Behind the speaker face, a structure is built with a sound hole that is one stud left of dead center. A 10×10 round dish becomes the base for the speaker which rests on two 1×1 round plates, which is then fastened in place by two more 1×1 rounds. The soundhole becomes completely covered but we know it’s there.

While building the back of the amp a sticker is used to denote the serial number. It reads “04062020”. An important date for the designer, maybe? The other side of the panel replicates the electronics with what looks like a slew of colorful diodes, resistors, and capacitors. Much of this is achieved with tiles wedged upright between studs. While I’m aware adult builders do this with regularity, it is not often seen in an official capacity from LEGO.

The underside of the switch panel houses rheostats and vacuum tubes. The tube on the far right contains a lipstick piece first introduced in the Friends sets back in 2012. The set comes with an extra lipstick piece presumably so that your minifigures can relive the scene from Silence of the Lambs in which Buffalo Bill admires himself in the mirror. Now that I know you’re still paying attention, some guitars actually had real lipstick cases used as pickups. They produced a jangly sound associated with surf rock. The use of these single-coil lipstick pickups was popular from about the fifties to the eighties.

The colorful electronics panel Is installed on the amp.

Once the control knobs are built it is really beginning to look like an amplifier. The electronics hide beneath the top panel but it is not bricked into place and thus easily removable to admire the electronics within. Around the back four of the five aforementioned flex tubes are used to replicate the amp’s wiring. The fifth is a spare which would make great spaceship greebling.

The amplifier I have in real life is the Frontman 10G. The one in this LEGO set is the Princeton Reverb-Amp, both Fender products. While not exactly the same, I included my amp in this photo to illustrate how similar the LEGO amp appears to be when situated next to the real thing. Seeing these together however rekindled my notion that at least the grilled tiles along the front should have been metallic silver to replicate the silver threaded fabric indicative of Fender amps. Even if the silver pieces were readily available while designing this amp I imagine such a large quantity of them would raise the price of this set considerably so it is understandable if they weren’t used.

A small effects pedal is built and is wired to the amp using one of the long bits of black flex hose. Three more lipstick pieces are introduced in this set (hear that, Buffalo Bill?) and one is used to affix the hose to the back of the amp.

The other two are inserted at either end of the other bit of flex hose is plugged into the front of the amp and the guitar’s jackhole. They all look quite nice together.

A page in the instruction book tells you to choose the teal-colored 1×1 quarter round tile and insert it behind the strings at the headstock. This is commonplace for guitarists to store their pick and there are even studs to accommodate it there. The directions also instruct you to toss three more into the back of the amp. That’s a bit of good guitarist’s humor right there!

There is a larger sticker that depicts a LEGO-ized Fender logo. The directions do not offer a specific place for it so it can be used to adorn your own gear.

The directions also do not illustrate how to easily swap out your red body for the black one. I removed the guitar strap, whammy bar, and other gear and, as gingerly as possible, worked to remove most of the red body without destroying the neck and string assembly. It doesn’t break as cleanly as you’d like but eventually, I was able to do it.

It took some finagling, some reimagining of the directions, and some rebuilding but I was able to build the black guitar fully while retaining the red body for later use. The black guitar body was built exactly the way the red one did so I didn’t feel the need to photo the process.

The finished model

Whether you choose to display the black or red model the end result is a faithful representation of the iconic Fender Stratocaster guitar as well as its almost equally famous Princeton Reverb Amplifier companion.

Conclusion and recommendations

This will surely bring musicians, guitar enthusiasts and fans of the Fender Stratocaster into the LEGO hobby, which is always a good thing. With so many TV sitcom franchises dominating the LEGO Ideas theme lately this Strat is, to me anyway, a refreshing change. The ability to build an alternate body color was a pleasant surprise and, as far as I know, something LEGO hasn’t done much before if at all. The inclusion of the amp and the interesting build techniques and neat pieces rachets my enthusiasm for this setup considerably. My only suggestion, and this is minor stuff here, is if at least one of the bodies was in a rare color, this would entice more adult LEGO builders who are forever starved for a significant number of parts in rare colors regardless of subject matter. A rarer LEGO color would also fit the Stratocaster brand but at the end of the day, there really is nothing wrong with classic black or red. I consider this set a ten out of ten but the inclusion of the grilled tiles in metallic silver would crank that awesomeness up to eleven. Again, a minor niggle for an otherwise amazing set. I wholeheartedly recommend this set to anyone who loves guitars, Stratocasters, or LEGO in general.

LEGO Ideas 21329 Fender Stratocaster consists of 1,074 pieces and is available starting October 1 from the LEGO shop for US $99 | CAN $139.99 | UK £99. It may also be available from Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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2 comments on “We rock out with the LEGO Ideas 21329 Fender Stratocaster Guitar [Review]

  1. Skes

    I believe the corregated tube hidden in the bottom is to mimic the real life amps spring reverb mechanism? A neat little feature!

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