With a street price of less than $1,600, the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster is an instrument worthy of stage or studio.
It’s safe to say that the Fender Stratocaster is an American icon, one that has stood the test of time for over fifty years. At one time, if you wanted a Fender Strat, you asked for one type of guitar – a Fender Strat! These days, Fender has so many options that it’s dizzying trying to pick a model out of the myriad choices Fender offers. Let’s help you narrow the choices a bit. If you want a top notch Fender Stratocaster that can cover a lot of total ground for not a huge investment, the American Deluxe series is a good place to start. For some players, it might be the only guitar they ever need.
Like the American Standard series, the American Deluxe Stratocaster features an alder body with either a rosewood or maple neck. The Deluxe features a C-shaped profile with 22 medium-jumbo frets. It has a very comfortable compound radius neck and a high-mass bridge block. The Deluxe model also comes standard with either three N3 noiseless single-coil pickups or a bridge humbucker with two N3 single coiles. The respected S-1 switching system is still standard, as are locking tuning keys. A tough molded case is also included.
I’ll say right off the top that this is one of the best feeling and best playing Stratocasters I’ve ever reviewed or played anywhere. No joke. I imagine it’s the neck profile coupled with the compound fretboard radius. The neck has a 9-1/2″ at the nut, 12″ at the 12th fret, and 14″ at the 15th fret, which is really the best of all possible worlds and makes playing high up the neck really a pleasure. The neck finish, frets, and profile also contribute to the feel, which is a guitar you could play all night. It might be the best neck Fender has ever produced, which is no small feat.
I’m a fan of noiseless pickups, but I’m always weary of stock pickups just because of my previous experience (I almost always install replacement pickups). The Fender N3 really do a fine job in producing both vintage and modern tones from the instrument. The sterility sometimes associated with noiseless pickups is nowhere to be found. I reviewd the HSS model with the DH-1 humbucker, and there was hardly a sound I couldn’t coax out of the instrument.
I also chose the maple fretboard, and it was absolutely immaculate. The fretwork was clean and precise, hinting of an instrument worth far more than the relatively low asking price. It felt like a custom shop instrument.
With a street price of less than $1,600, the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster is an instrument worthy of stage or studio and represents over fifty years of Fender ingenuity. It’s hard to improve upon a classic, but Fender has done just that.
Name of Gear: Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster
List Price: $2,099
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Great playability; wide range of sounds, versatility