Fender American Professional II: Redefining The Standard

Fender American Professional II: Redefining The Standard

13th Oct 2020 @ 14:00 | Jon Whittaker

The Fender American Professional II series takes already beloved models and enhances through improvements rather than a radical redesign. The result is the playability that we have all come to know and love with an extra drop of Fender ‘magic’.

Where It All Began: American Standard

When Fender was purchased from CBS back in 1985, the company set about forging ahead confidently. This meant revitalizing the US manufacturing facility, streamlining the product selection so that it was lean and mean, whilst developing a flagship series that would become the heart and soul of Fender’s new direction.

Fender head of marketing, Dan Smith, an accomplished builder and player, focused his attention on crafting an instrument that embodied the integrity of Fender’s original electric guitar designs, whilst lending itself sweetly to modern player’s styles and could be produced readily using their new-fangled manufacturing techniques. The result was the 1986 “American Standard” Stratocaster and Telecaster, which later expanded to the Jazz Bass and Precision Bass models.

image of a woman seated playing an electric guitar

About the Fender American Professional Series

When the American Professional series superseded the American Standard series, Fender made great strides to set each apart. Changes included the ship from a modern C neck shape to the “Deep C” shape, switching from medium-jumbo frets to narrow-tall, the introduction of V-Mod pickups, the adoption of the pop-in arm on the American Standard 2-point bridge, and the subtle move to a genuine bone nut. As well as the hardware changes new colours were introduced: Sonic Gray, Mystic Seafoam, and Antique Olive.

Changing the popular American Standard series of guitars and basses that had been established since 1987 was a potentially risky move that ultimately paid off, as the American Professional series has gone on to become a highly coveted series within the Fender family. Favoured by working players who demand consistency and reliability when gigging and touring, prized by those seeking a model that will stand the test of time, and adored by critics the world over, the Fender American Professional has become the new ‘Standard’.

American Professional II: Corona Born and Bred

Hailing from the Fender team Corona, California, the American Professional II series models are imbued with characteristics that are quintessentially “Fender”. Expect timeless Fender style, magnificent hand craftsmanship, premium hardware and electronics across the board, the resurrection of classic finishes as well as a host of vibrant new ones. The Fender Design and Engineering team have left no stone unturned in their quest to improve the series, digging deep into the details across the necks, fingerboards, bodies, bridges, pickups, electronics, and finishes. Every feature has been refined and upgraded to guarantee a premium playing experience.

As the word “Professional” implies, these are guitars and basses built to exceed the demands of the most discerning of today’s players. Aspiring artists, avid enthusiasts, and even those picking up an instrument for the first time will be wowed by the heavenly Fender in their grasp. Combining the best of the old world and the new, what more could you want?

The Fender American Professional II line-up features Stratocasters, Telecasters, Telecaster Deluxes, Jazzmasters, Precision Bass and Jazz Bass models, with plenty of choices for lefties and pickup variations to suit all flavours, these new beauties are reading and waiting to be your new favourite thing.

image of a man seated playing the electric guitar

V-Mod II Pickups

V-Mod pickups were introduced especially for the American Professional Strat, Tele, Jazzmaster, P Bass, and Jazz Bass models back in 2016 by Fender’s crack team of pickup sages. As noted above, the 2020 models have been tweaked and tailored with surgical precision to enhance the voicing of each Fender guitar and bass. Mixing alnico magnet values, incorporating different types of coil wire and employing experimental winding techniques has resulted in the next generation of powerful yet versatile pickups infused with original Fender sonic DNA.

Digging Deeper into Pickup Properties

By combining alnico values within a single pickup, the Fender team have adopted a highly scientific approach to smoothing out the pickup’s output and tonal balance. Many years’ experience and steadfast dedication to the tonal cause mean that the Fender team spent painstaking time playing and testing magnet types from model to model before dispensing their wisdom. They don’t call them Fender Pickup Gurus for nothing!

A brief overview of different types of alnico alloys, their reaction to string vibration, and the tonal characteristic you can expect.

ALNICO 2

  • Roughly 40% of the mix is aluminium, nickel and cobalt, with a hint of copper; the rest is iron
  • Warm, rich tone with smooth attack; not characterised as “edgy”
  • Suitable for use in any pickup position

ALNICO 3

  • No cobalt or copper at all; just iron, nickel, and aluminium
  • Relatively low magnetic “pull” - weakest of the 4 alloys
  • Smooth and clean tone, works best in the neck or middle positions

ALNICO 4

  • More cobalt than Alnico 2 or 3, but less than 5
  • Strong magnetic “pull”
  • Focused, not harsh, with plenty of output

ALNICO 5

  • More cobalt than Alnico 2 or 3
  • Strongest magnetic “pull” of the three; needs to be moved farther away from the strings in the neck position to minimize “wolf tones”
  • Bright, twangy “Fender” tone in any position

image of a woman seated playing an electric guitar

Pickups Across the American Pro II models

Stratocaster and Telecaster: Subtle changes enhance the V-Mod formula to accentuate bell-like chime and warm low-end tones. The carefully balanced mix of alnico magnet values maximises clarity, balance, and output.

Strat HSS, and Tele Deluxe: Boasting new V-Mod II Double Tap humbuckers, these patented pickups deliver a guttural ferocity for a defined sonic punch paired with sublime single-coil versatility. Distinctly different from traditional split-coil humbuckers, the markedly different Double Tap voices are a masterful lesson in innovation.

Jazzmaster: Radically different voice for the Jazzmaster with a bold and dynamic attack. Push/Push Tone pot deliver bridge pickup vintage-tone boost.

P Bass and Jazz Bass: Peerless string-to-string balance thanks to the blend of alnico magnet values ensuring warmth and full-bodied tone.

Treble-Bleed Circuit

Often adopted as an aftermarket modification, a treble-bleed circuit comes as standard on all American Professional II series electric guitars. A characteristic side effect of rolling back the volume pot on a guitar is the corresponding low of high-end clarity, resulting in an often muddied, low-volume tone. The treble-bleed circuit circumvents that issue by retaining high-end clarity, crispness, and articulation at reduced volumes. Rollback the volume and it engages automatically so that you can get on with doing what you do best.

image of a man seated playing an electric bass guitar

Ever Popular "Deep C” Neck with Rolled Fingerboard Edges

The American Professional II guitar inherits the coveted “Deep C” neck profile, which sits somewhere between a “Modern C”- and “U”-shaped profile. The result is a supportive and comforting feel in the fretting hand. Add to that the Super-Natural satin finish along the back of the neck and you have a guitar that is built for speed.

The 9.5-inch (241mm) fingerboard radius is delightfully comfortable whether you’re chording or soloing, offering the perfect balance between the rounder radii fingerboards of old and the flatter radius of modern marvels. The shaping on the rolled fingerboard edges affords a more “played-in” feel to create an experience of immediate familiarity.

Narrow-tall frets marry the feel of narrow vintage-style frets and wide, medium-jumbo frets. Again, pairing the old with the new in the vintage feel of older frets and height of medium-jumbo frets allows you to play with a lighter touch to execute solos at blistering speed with perfect intonated from but to bridge. Plus, a newly sculpted neck heel elevates playing comfort and eases upper fret access on all American Professional II instruments.

American Pro II Colour Selection

As we would expect, along with classic Fender finishes there are some new ones to excite and delight such as all-new Miami Blue, Dark Night, Mercury, and Mystic Surf Green. There is also the new natural finish, Roasted Pine.

Roasted Pine bodies are generally reserved for limited edition and Custom Shop instruments made in the Corona factory. However, Fender has rolled out the Roasted Pine for the American-made series – for the first time! By roasting the wood, it makes it lighter and increases stability and resonance. All Sienna Sunburst finished models feature Roasted Pine bodies.

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