Fender Malibu Player Review & Prices

Fender Malibu Player Review
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  • From Fender's 2018 California series
  • Made in China
  • 6 strings
  • 24.1"'' scale
  • 15.75" Fretboard Radius
  • Solid Sitka Spruce top
  • Mahogany back
  • Mahogany sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Walnut fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Fishman CD-1 Preamp (Preamp/Passive)
  • Modern Viking bridge
  • Acoustic Slim C Set neck
  • 20 Medium frets
  • Sealed Nickel tuners
  • Weight between 3.8lbs (1.7kgs) and 4.3lbs (2kgs)
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 82
Sound 81
Build quality 72
Value for money 88
Overall Score 78
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Fender Malibu Player
  • Expensive Wood
  • NuBone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Electronics
  • NuBone Saddle
  • Solid Top Wood
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in China
  • Laminated Side Wood
  • Laminated Back Wood
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $440, which means that the Fender Malibu Player is within the average price asked for this kind of guitar. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in China.

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Videos

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Fender Malibu Player Electro Acoustic - Demo
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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Fender Malibu Player meets 5 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's a good guitar to start with as a complete beginner. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Fender Malibu Player
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Short scale
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Soft Strings
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Fender Malibu Player's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

How Lightweight is it?

We found that the Fender Malibu Player weighs between 3.8lbs (1.7kgs) and 4.3lbs (2kgs). This was recorded from some online retailers that publish the weight of the instruments they sell.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Fender Malibu Player's 24.1" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Fender Malibu Player Scale Length Comparison
Fender Malibu Player's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is a short scale guitar, which is great for new players. It will allow you to press down the strings without hurting your fingers so much, and makes it easier to reach difficult chords.

Neck Profile

Fender Malibu Player Neck Profile
Fender Malibu Player's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Fender Malibu Player has a 15.75" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Fender Malibu Player Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Fender Malibu Player's fretboard radius compared to others

It's a radius that makes playing single notes (and bending, vibrato, sliding, etc) easier than on a classic Les Paul guitar. However, it's still more curved than some baritone and 7+ strings guitars.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Fender Malibu Player has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

24.1'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
15.75'' Fretboard Radius
24.1'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
15.75'' Fretboard Radius
24.1'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
15.75'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Fender Malibu Player Nut Width
Fender Malibu Player Nut Width

The Fender Malibu Player has a nut width of 43mm (1.693''). This is within the most common range of nut widths for a 6-string guitar. It offers a good balance of string separation at the nut. It's the size that most guitarists prefer as it gives them just enough space to play open chords without muting the strings, but without spreading the strings too wide and making bar chords difficult to perform.

Frets

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Fender Malibu Player Fret Size Comparison
Fender Malibu Player's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Fender Malibu Player's frets are Medium size. With medium frets, you can feel the fretboard more than with jumbo frets, but it's still easier to press the strings cleanly than with small frets; notes might change their pitch just slightly if you press hard on the fret. Also, if you need to do some fret leveling after years of playing, you'll have some room to sand them down without having to replace them.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 90
Chord Playability 75
Solo Playability 80
Playability 82

Tone Analysis

The type of wood and even the shape of the body will have a lot of influence in the final tone of an acoustic guitar. Here's we'll talk about what kind of tone you can expect from its specs.

Wood

Spruce wood pattern used for guitar building
Spruce Top
Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Back, Sides, Neck
Walnut wood pattern used for guitar building
Walnut Fretboard

Spruce Top: This wood has a light color with tight grain patterns. It's very stiff but relatively light. It's known for producing a well-rounded tone with a broad dynamic range.

Mahogany Back, Sides and Neck: This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

Walnut Fretboard: It's a hard wood with a chocolate color that is often used to give an elegant finish. Since it's quite expensive and rare, it's mostly used for guitar tops.

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Fishman. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

Sound Score

Sustain 75
Versatility 80
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 81

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Fender Malibu Player is made in China. So you can expect lower build quality when compared to others made in Korea, Japan or the United States. Guitars made in this country are meant for mass production, which translates into less attention to detail and quality control. This doesn't mean the product is made poorly at all. Chinese products have a bad reputation since long ago, but they've definitely improved a lot the last few years.

Bridge

Modern Viking: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Fender Malibu Player has a NuBone nut. It's a synthetic nut from the same creators of Ivory TUSQ. It's a hard and self-lubricating material that helps a lot with tuning stability. It produces a brighter tone similar to TUSQ, but it's not as hard.

More with the same nut material:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 76
Features 85
Quality Control 55
Build Quality 72

All Specs

Fender Malibu Player
General
Brand: Fender
Year: 2018
Configuration:
Strings: 6
Made in: China
Series: California
Colors: Sunburst
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Solid Sitka Spruce
Bridge: Modern Viking
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Sealed Nickel
Fretboard: Walnut
Neck Material: Mahogany
Decoration: White Dot
Scale Size: 24.1"
Shape: Acoustic Slim C
Frets: 20 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 15.75"
Nut: NuBone
Nut Width: 43mm (1.693'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs:
Volume Controls: 0
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: Fishman CD-1 Preamp (Preamp / Passive)

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