Though the price of the Fender American series has risen over the past few years, the “bang for buck” has increased as well, and with a street price of around $1,400 for the American Professional Stratocaster, it’s hard to complain given the quality of the instrument.
Without question, the Fender Stratocaster is the most iconic guitar in the world. Sure, the Gibson Les Paul has its place at the top as well, but given that Fender doesn’t sue everyone who borrows the body shape, there’s no surprise that “Strat Style” guitars rule the marketplace.
Unlike many other companies, Fender doesn’t make changes in their signature models just for the sake of making changes, so when the revise or introduce a new line, it’s worth taking note. That’s the case with the American Professional Series, a revision to the American Standard line of instruments. I had the chance to spend a week with one of the new American Professional Series Stratocasters and was pleasantly surprised with my findings.
The Fender Professional Stratcaster has an alder body with gloss polyurethane finish. A 22 fret maple neck is available with either a rosewood or maple fretboard and bone nut. The neck profile is a new deep “Deep C” profile. The SSS model sports newly designed “V-Mod” pickups designed by Tim Shaw and are designed for consistent output and include a treble-bleed circuit designed to enhance tone when the volume is decreased. HSS and HH models are also available. A non-locking 2 point vibrato unit is standard (with a pop-in arm) as are new “narrow-tall” frets (comparable to the popular Dunlop 6105 fretwire). A molded hardshell case is standard equipment as well.
The first thing I noticed upon taking the SSS Professional Stratocaster (Candy Apple Red with Rosewood fretboard) for a test run was the different feel of the neck. Neck profiles and fret height are very personal preferences, but to my tastes, the new combination gives the American Pro Strat a real “Custom Shop” kind of feel. I personally prefer more modern profiles over vintage ones and this one seems to be a good cross between the two.
The new pickups designed by guru Tim Shaw (of the famous “Shawbucker” pickup) maintain vintage Fender tones though they strike me as more consistent and balanced than true vintage pickups, which is actually an improvement. The tone controls are also more modern in that they middle and neck pickup share a tone and the neck gets its own. The included treble bleed circuit is a welcome addition, since that’s a common mod to maintain tonal consistency when lowering the guitar’s volume. The pickups might seem bright to some, but this is a Strat after all, and I didn’t find the SSS config to be excessively bright. For a non-locking vibrato unit, the return-to-pitch and consistency were very high.
The quality of the Candy Apple Red finish and rosewood fretboard are what I’ve come to expect from Fender over the years: solid all around
Though the price of the Fender American series has risen over the past few years, the “bang for buck” has increased as well, and with a street price of around $1,400, it’s hard to complain given the quality of the instrument. Fender consistently puts out high quality production-level instruments, and the American Professional Stratocaster is no exception. It’s a keeper.
Name of Gear: Fender American Professional Stratocaster
List Price: $1,399.99
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Excellent playability; good feel; quality construction