Last week Fender’s all-new American Ultra Series launched, marking the first time in decades that the classic designs of the Stratocaster and Telecaster got a reshaped body profile as well as adding upgraded electronics and an all-new, fast-playing neck. Replacing the American Elite series, these state-of-the-art guitars are handmade in the Corona, California factory and play like no other Fender before them.
Now convoluted copy aside, you may be wondering what the difference is between the American Ultra and other Fender guitars. Isn’t it just another Strat/Tele shaped guitar? On face value, there doesn’t appear to be much difference – these guitars look like your typical Strat or Tele – however, if we dive beneath the hood, or flip the guitar over to look at the back, we’ll see these guitars have been created with insane attention to detail and with the player firmly at the forefront of things.
For the first time in a long time, the iconic Strat and Tele bodies have had a redesign. The new back body curves ensure you’re always comfortable no matter how long the gig. The sharpness of the edge radius, belly cut and sculpted cutaway are all seamlessly smoothed, joined and shaped by hand resulting in a comfort level beyond anything you’ve felt before. The sculpted neck-heel gives you unhindered access to the upper registers of the fretboard, resulting in a playing experience that’s second to none.
The finishes are all new as well, Texas Tea and Cobra Blue glitter with a fine metallic flake. Plasma Red Burst and Aged Natural emphasize the grain of select Ash bodies whilst Arctic Pearl has deep, mother-of-pearl lustre that reflects light. The Ultra Burst has a distinct character, with dark brown and red bands surrounding a vibrant amber centre with typical Fender precision. These guitars look absolutely stunning and represent some of the finest finishes Fender has come up with as yet.
Fender Noiseless Pickups
There are two types of pickup for the Fender American Ultra range depending on the model you choose. The first is the Ultra Noiseless Vintage, which deliver that much-loved, authentic Fender single-coil spank in droves, without any hum. The Ultra Noiseless Hot pickups give you modern performance with a classic tone that works seamlessly when used with overdrive. With over 20 years of development going into these pickups, even Fender themselves have said: “these are the best we’ve ever built”!
S-1 Switching System
Not content with offering the finest Fender pickups ever made, the imaginative circuitry for each American Ultra has been enhanced for each instrument’s voice, opening up all-new territory for these flagship Fender’s. Giving you extra tonal options, your creativity is bound to leap and soar, without altering the iconic Fender appearance thanks to the subtle ‘push’ switch build into the top of the Volume control knob.
American Ultra Stratocaster – The Strat model features custom wiring that allows you to add the neck pickup to any of the first three switching positions via the S-1 switch at any time. This addition gives you tonal expansion at the push of a button, great for when you need to change it up on stage.
American Ultra Stratocaster HSS – The HSS Strat features an Ultra Double Tap humbucking pickup, delivering fat double-coil tone. While coil-splitting technology often leaves you with half the sound that’s not the case here. Hit the S-1 switch and you get the true chime and cut of a single-coil bridge pickup, powerful and clear in sound.
American Ultra Telecaster – The Tele is voiced in parallel mode, which is pretty much how you’d expect, however at the push of the S-1 switch you get the pickups wired in series, combining two pickup signals into one. This raises the output level and creates a fuller tone, it’s like having an onboard boost pedal.
New Treble Bleed Circuit
All of the models of the American Ultra Series have an all-new treble bleed circuit. A common side of effect of rolling your volume back is the loss of high end, adding unwanted mud to your tone. The treble bleed circuit present here defies that, allowing high-end transparency and bite and lower volumes. The circuit is always on so it’s not something you have to manage, being automatically engaged when you roll off the volume.
All New Neck
The new neck profile gives the American Ultra series a fast feel with enhanced Ultra Rolled Fingerboard Edges and a smooth Ultra Satin finish on the back. It’s shaped to Fender’s ‘Modern D’ neck profile which makes for comfortable chord shapes and effortless lead licks all night long. Built for speed and easy bending, the radius of the neck goes from 10 to 14-inches, becoming flatter as you get near the upper register. Combined with Medium-Jumbo frets you get a smooth and natural feel with no fretting out, those huge two-tone bends will sound incredible.
Locking Tuning Machines
It’s a fact that Locking Tuning Machines offer increased tuning stability, particularly when you have a tremolo. They also eliminate needless winding, ensuring string changes are quick and easy. With these Tuning Machines, no Allen keys are necessary, just hand tighten the wheel on the back then tune the string to pitch, simple! The posts themselves are also new, shorter than what you’d find on a typical Fender, they provide an increased break angle at the nut, increasing string tension and resulting in a lively string response.
I think it’s safe to say this isn’t just another Fender range. Pretty much everything here is an upgrade on every other Fender guitar on the market today. These guitars look and sound incredible and their feature-packed nature is sure to be a hit with the player’s who demand the most of their instrument. As you can see the American Ultra Series features improvements all-round, so you know when Fender says ‘Above and Beyond’ they really mean it!
Get the Gear
Shop the full Fender American Ultra range on our website.
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