Here is the latest Storeroom Review, this time we look at the new Fender American Professional Series Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars and Jazz Bass.
We are here today to look at the new American professional series guitars from Fender, a replacement for the American standard series that we’ve known and loved for years and we are going to take you through some of the differences. We’ve got examples of the guitars to play... We’ve got the Stratocaster, the new Telecaster, the new Jazz bass, and over here is the last existing American Standard that we have in stock, just to highlight some of the differences and maybe give you a little sound test as well to see if you can hear any differences.
I’ve come prepared with a crib sheet because I’m likely to forget this kind of thing. We will run you through some of the spec changes.
The most noticeable difference, I think, is the neck. It feels chunkier to the hand due to fact that it has a deeper ‘C’ neck running through there and also the frets, for me, are quite a large difference. What they’ve done is they’ve used ones similar to the vintage thin, skinny frets yet they are a lot taller than the ones you’d get on the, say, the old American Vintage range. The old American Standards had medium jumbos and these are now ‘narrow tall frets’ so that’s the most immediate thing. You can pick up the guitar out of the case and notice the neck is slightly deeper, somewhere between a ‘C’ and a ‘U’ now. Which is quite unusual, normally companies make their necks thinner as time goes on and everyone wants fast necks but I really appreciate it having a slightly chunkier vintage-feeling neck and narrow tall frets. Again, you can get great action and no fret noise or anything like that. For me that was the one thing about the American Standard that was why I sold mine, I have quite long and skinny fingers and the neck felt too narrow, so for me this feels very comfortable. The basses have had an upgraded, as have the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar.
Most of these changes that we are talking about are linear across the range, obviously the bass neck profiles aren’t exactly the same as you’d find on the Strats and Teles but they have had a slight change as well. I know the P-bass has a ’63 neck profile now, so no qualms there, very very comfortable.
The very first thing you notice when you get the guitar is the case. It’s the same kind of robust plastic, super-dooper moulded thing you get with the elite series. So, that’s pretty swanky, the guitar is sucked down into a plush interior.
So, what else have we got? Frets, neck, case…pickups. That’s the next thing. Fender do this every few years, they make little upgrades or changes and the pickups are normally something they do. On the previous American Standard line-up, we had Custom Shop Fat 50s, on the American Pro series, we have the new V-Mod Fender pickups (single coils). The interesting thing about these is that they have been designed specifically for their place on the guitar. Which is quite often not the case, you’d get a set of pickups and they might be, pretty much, all the same. On these guitars, the Strat, the Tele, the whole range the neck pickup has been designed to be a neck pickup, the bridge is a bridge and the middle is a middle. The same thing on the Tele. So, if we took this guitar apart we couldn’t just swap these around. Which is great because they’ve been optimised for their position. And again, that’s across the range. They sound great, they’ve got that vintage character and classic Fender tones, they seem to work with gain. They are not noise cancelling but they do seem to have a fairly low noise floor.
Along with those you’ve got the treble bleed mod, which is something we quite often do in the workshop (I’m not a tech so I don’t actually know what we fit) but for a player what is means is when you roll down the volume you don’t lose your top end. Without the treble bleed as you roll down the volume the treble starts to taper off. If you set your volume to 2 or 3 it sounds much, much darker than it does when it’s on ten but with a treble bleed mod you can go from 10 to 1 and the tone kinda stays the same, the volume changes but you don’t lose any of your highs, so that’s very, very useful.
The other thing on the Tele is the swanky new bridge, really nice brass saddles keeping to the vintage Tele tradition so purists will be happy to see that on there. The saddles are compensated as well so you get extra tuning stability. The ashtray is also really nice and on these models they’ve cut away the walls ahead of the actual saddles so they were the bits that would catch on your hands and get in the way. They’ve done away with that now because the majority of players aren’t using big ashtray covers anymore. But, included in the case you get a mini ashtray cover that just slips over the springs and the base of the saddles. You can also, if you want to, use it for extra comfort, but also it looks pretty cool. The main thing is the sound, isn’t it? Yes, it’s got extra twang, even before you plug it in it’s nice right off the bat.
Let me check off my list: Pickups, treble bleed, narrow-tall frets, deep ‘C’ neck, new case, brass saddles on the Tele… On the basses, you’ve got new tuners as well. Shortened posts to reduce the break angle across the nut, to help get a little more meat and beef to your tone as well as sustain.
New colours as well. Mostly very cool here. Divided opinion a little here though…I think it’s called Sonic Gray (with an ‘A’ because it’s American). I personally love it because of my inner grunge, which is coming out in me, is loving that colour way. Fender are doing this thing where you are not guaranteed to get every colour with a maple neck and a rosewood neck. Some colours you can only get with rosewood and some you can only get with maple, which is kind of a bit strange. All the usual colours that you’ve come to expect are there though, like Sunbursts etc. The Telecaster also now comes in butterscotch, which will please the purists out there. Other than that, just as you’d expect…good playing American guitars. Flagship guitars from Fender with good sounds.
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