Aspirational axes for the working musician
Fender’s American Standard range are the gold label, premier league guitars of your dreams. It’s the guitar your mate’s dad had when you were 14 and starting out, and you weren’t allowed to play. It’s the guitar the player in the big band plays when they’re raking in mega coin playing gig after gig after gig. It’s the bona fide living legend that made you want to start playing in the first place. But what is it that makes the American Standard range so well loved?
Simply put, you know what you are getting with an Fender American Standard. It’s not called a standard for nothing, you know. With the Standard range you demand, and get, guitars of certain build quality, durability, resilience and, most importantly, tone. To look at them, you wouldn’t know the differences from a Mexican Standard, or even a Squier (headstock aside). But whereas you can reasonably expect 15 years of life from one of those, an American will keep on going. There was a famous Swiss watch manufacturer which ran an advertising campaign saying their watches never belong to you, you merely look after them for the next generation. Well, it’s the same situation here.
As guitarists delve further into the minutiae of gear, with its near infinite possibilities and variables, there’s still a place for the top quality workhorse instrument in the hands of any player. Sure, you might develop a penchant for strange shaped master-built axes from a micro-luthiery in rural Ukraine, but you’ll always know what you’re getting with an American Standard, and that is the reason why they remain as popular as ever.
The range comprises just a handful of iconic body shapes. Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazz and Precision Basses; that’s it. There is space for options and different features, and this usually lies in things like pickup combinations or fretboard woods. All Standards come with either ash or alder wood for the body, with each providing slightly different tonal responses, while all necks are crafted from rock hard maple for extra durability. A choice of maple or rosewood fingerboards offer slightly different characteristics, while the pickups are all specially selected from the famous Custom Shop.
The 2015 Stratocaster range is interesting in that there are a few different pickup variations to choose from. There are the usual S/S/S and H/S/S options, along with a new H/H combo. If Teles are more your thing, then there’s the iconic standard S/S model as well as a newly introduced dual humbucker version which moves the veteran twang machine into more rocky territory.
On the whole there are no extra bells and whistles, but then that’s not the point. The point is that as a watermark against which other guitars are measured, the Standard range really is the bar to aim for. Perhaps you’ve been playing a Mex – great guitars in their own right – and are looking for the next step up. Or maybe you’re leaving your pointy guitars and blastbeats behind for a quiet life playing the blues. Whatever your genre, know that when you finally decide on a new Fender, the American Standard range is your ticket to the top table of guitar playing.