Fender American Ultra Stratocaster Review

If you are someone who is in any way related to the music sector in any way then I can guarantee that you must have heard the name ‘Fender’ once or even more. They are a known name among the musicians. Their widespread name does show the reputation and the loyal customer they have gained throughout the decades through their hard work and continuous efforts. 

If you have clicked this page, either because you have heard a lot about this company and want to check what the hype is about or are genuinely interested in this particular guitar, I welcome you all to get to know it much better! 

Too lazy to read the full review? Here’s the quick summary!

fender american ultra strat
Fender American Ultra Strat

What We Think

The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is a great guitar for both intermediate and pro-level guitar players. This means that once you purchase this guitar, you can use it for a really long time and get the maximum out of your money. 

It provides versatile sound and thus you can use it to play various genres such as Blues, Country, EDM, Funk, Metal, Alternative rock, and everything in between. So if you are someone who enjoys every genre and want a single guitar you can play all your favorite genres with then this shall be the right one for you. 

Some may argue about their price as it is high indeed but the satisfying sound, great feel, and amazing visuals are some of the best qualities this guitar offers, which I honestly think is worth it. 

Features

  • Classic look
  • Modern D-neck
  • Noiseless pickups
  • S-1 switching
  • Locking tuners

Fender as a Brand

Fender is a well-known name to almost all musicians. The popularity and hype this company has been getting since its establishment is not a joke. Fender manufactures almost everything from stringed instruments to even bass amplifiers and public address equipment. But the most liked or preferred ones are the electric and bass guitars. 

The Fender Stratocaster, an electric guitar model, was first introduced in 1954 and designed by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. Fender Stratocaster is also commonly called Strat. 

Through the years, Stratocaster also went through several changes, and several models or designs were made by upgrading the previous versions and were given new names. 

Fender updated the previous model and introduced the American Standard Stratocaster in 1987. This updated one was made in accordance with feedback and the demands of modern players during that time. It was known mainly for the flatter fingerboard, a thinner or slimmer type of neck profile, and an improved tremolo system. The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster series replaced the American Elite series. They were revealed to the world in 1990. The Ultra series consists of four models. They are a standard SSS Stratocaster (strat with three single-coil pickups), an HSS Stratocaster (strat with one humbucker and 2 single-coil pickups), a Telecaster, and a Jazz master. All Ultras will have “Ultra” written on the neck plate except for some of the very first produced in 1990. All the models come with a choice of rosewood or maple fretboards and include the molded cases that come with all American Professional guitars. Fender Stratocaster Ultra was the “crowning act” of the Strat Plus series and was their highest-end production model, just under the Custom Shop guitars.

The EVP of Fender products, Justin Norvell stated that “The goal with the Ultra series is to create an instrument of immediate and maximum inspiration, making the guitar not be in the way”. Supporting his statement, Fender actually has been able to prove his statement true which we can see from all the positive reviews this series has been getting. Their continuous effort to upgrade their guitars and meet the requirement of the current demand makes it the first choice of many people. 

A Detailed Review of Fender American Ultra Stratocaster

Design

Given the name, Fender American Ultra Stratocaster, this guitar indeed has a classic strat design. Along with retaining the classic Strat look, their new sleek body contour with the new heel shape is something that appeals to the eyes while increasing the playing comfort. From the front, it looks like a traditional strat, but the back has become more ergonomic and comfortable on the body. If this combination is what you want then this guitar is totally a catch.

Neat looks of Fender American Ultra Strat
Neat looks of Fender American Ultra Strat

It has a gloss polyurethane finish and thus produces great radiance. 

The radiating radiance and the choices of different colors are what attract the eye-pleaser and the aesthete. Plasma red burst, Mocha Burst, Aged Natural, Arctic Pearl, Cobra blue, and Texas Tea are the colors you can get with this guitar. If having a shining guitar and being a stand-out in the crowd with unique color is your kind of thing then this guitar shall do the job for you. If you are somewhat of conservative type or old school then there are also the colors that you can get satisfied with. In sum, everyone can get the guitar of their color choice which is a plus point. 

The modern D-profile neck with the Ultra satin finish makes playing the neck effortless. 

Body

The body is solid and is made up of alder. Alder is a great tonewood and also is cheap. It is not that light nor too dense. So, almost everyone can opt for this guitar for easy control. Alder being closed-pore wood produces good resonance and the tone brighter than other woods. Along with the push to the sound quality, this wood also increases the appearance of the guitar. As it takes or absorbs the finishes smoothly, even the solid colors look good. 

Weight

The weight of this guitar is 8.4 lbs. As the body is not hollow but is solid, it is a little bit heavy. However, it is not that unmanageable or difficult to play. 

Neck

You will find a modern D-neck which makes playing different genres easier. The neck is of 10” radius and as you go up towards the higher frets, the radius of the neck increases to 14”. This means that the neck gets flattered towards the end and hitting those chords in the higher frets is way more comfortable. Also, the rolled edges add to the comfort this guitar provides you with. 

Fender American Ultra Strat Neck
Fender American Ultra Strat Neck

The neck is made up of Maple and thus the question about durability is out. Also, you will get a satin finish in this guitar which makes changing between the chords much easier as the satin finish removes the friction. Also, the Maple wood aids in the resonance this guitar can produce, and therefore, you can get the tone that you want.  

The frets of Rosewood compliments the resonance of Maple neck. The overtones and high frequencies are softened which then produces the smooth sound of high quality.

The presence of beautiful Pearloid dot inlays on the frets acts as a guide and helps players get an idea of what fret they’re playing on.

There are 22 medium jumbo frets in this guitar so the intermediate can also enjoy playing it without much difficulty. As the frets are not that jumbo, the pro players can easily rock jamming. 

Bolt-On neck joint

Bolt-on neck joint
Bolt-on neck joint

The neck in this guitar is joined with 4 bolts and is called a bolt-on neck joint. Because of the unsustainability of the nut or bolt, the guitar with this type of neck joint was not considered a good choice in the past. But nowadays, the bolt-on necks are well built and sustainable too. Therefore, many guitars can be seen with the bolt-on neck. The advantage of having bolt-on necks is that they are cheap to make and also it is easier to swap the neck in case of any damage. 

Also, the nut used in this guitar is a bone nut. Bone nut helps with tuning more than the plastic nut. In addition, bone is a denser material than plastic and hence, offers a more resonant sound.

 

Electronics

You will find 3 Ultra Noiseless Vintage single-coil pickups with this guitar. As the pickups are noiseless, you won’t have to worry about any unexpected hum or buzz while playing. The 3 pickups are Bridge pickup, Middle pickup, and the Neck pickup. As all these pickups are single coiled, the configuration is SSS. This configuration of single coils only might lead to you thinking that you will get that piercing or harsh sound but the warmth you can get with this guitar is indeed unpredictable. It gives you those beautiful clean tones in combination with a vintage-sounding distortion. 

Closer look at the pickups on the Fender American Ultra Strat
Closer look at the pickups on the Fender American Ultra Strat

There are three controls namely; Master volume control, Tone 1 and Tone 2 controls. The master volume controls the output from both pickups (neck/middle pickups and Bridge pickups) and two-tone knobs. Even when your hands are wet or when you need quick adjustments, you can do this easily as the volume knob retains the soft-touch feel.

You will find the S1 switching feature in this guitar. As result, you can choose any configuration from the available 5. The choosing of the configuration is possible because of the 5-way pickup selector switch. It lets you select from among the neck, neck and mid, mid, mid and bridge, and bridge pickup configuration.

For much easier understanding, S-1 switching positions can be given as:

S-1 Switch Up

  • Position 1. Bridge Pickup
  • Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup in Parallel
  • Position 3. Middle Pickup
  • Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup in Parallel
  • Position 5. Neck Pickup

S-1 Switch Down

  • Position 1. Bridge Pickup and Neck Pickup in Parallel
  • Position 2. Bridge Pickup, Middle Pickup, and Neck Pickup in Parallel
  • Position 3. Middle and Neck Pickup in Parallel
  • Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup in Parallel
  • Position 5. Neck Pickup

In comparison to the regular Stratocaster pickups, the neck and middle pickups are a bit higher and the mid-range is much subdued or lower in this guitar. You can get great clarity and a variety of textures while experimenting with these configurations. 

Sound

As there is an S1 switching system and 5 different configurations you can choose from, the sound you can produce with this guitar is quite versatile. The neck pickup gives that warm and sweet sound whereas the bridge, as well as the mid configuration, produces melodic sound. Therefore, the sound produced makes it suitable for playing rhythm style playing to jazz, blues, and lead playing.

Hardware

The 2-point deluxe synchronized tremolo is what maintains the stability of the tuning in this guitar. As there is only two-point on the floating bridge, there is less friction which helps in maintaining that tuning and also the solid string block saddle adds to that stability. It also directs subtle vibrato and flutters. 

Also, since the bridge is floating, the bridge is bound to move as you bend the strings. So in order to reach a certain note with this bridge, you need to increase the distance of your bends to reach the same note compared to a fixed bridge. So you can tell already that the increase in distance is going to affect the speed at which you can play this guitar. But with practice, this shall not affect much in your performance. 

Something you need to be aware of this type of bridge is that it needs more maintenance than fixed ones.

The tuners in this guitar are the locking or sealed tuners. This stops the guitar from going out of tune once tuned. Also, the locking tuning machines make the string changes fast and easy. 

The strings are nickel-plated and made up of steel. Thus these strings can correspondingly transmit the string vibrations to the magnetic pickups. Thus, you can get loud and bright sounds. Also, you need not worry about the strings getting heated up while playing for long hours as the steel strings are resistant to heat.

The Good

Body made of alder

Gloss polyurethane finish

Modern D-neck profile made up of Maple wood

Satin neck finish for effortless playing

Bone nut

New body contour for comfort

Tapered neck heel for unparalleled access to the upper registers of the fingerboard

Medium jumbo frets

Ultra noiseless single-coil pickups

S1 switching system

Tonal versatility

Fender Deluxe die-cast tuners.

A two-point Fender Deluxe Tremolo bridge

Premium moulded hardshell case

The Bad

A bit pricey

Slightly heavy

No stainless steel frets

Closing Thoughts

The electric guitars manufactured by Fenders are always up to the mark and this Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is not any exception. This guitar, still going on to this date even though being released decades earlier does prove the fact that it is timeless. 

Along with providing a variety of tones and pleasing sound quality, this guitar does serve some cool looks as well. So, with this guitar, not only do you sound good but also look formidable. In addition, the new body contours make playing this guitar much more comfortable. And therefore, you can have fun with it till your heart is content. 

Some might find this guitar to be pricey. But the looks, all the features, and the sound quality this guitar provides are just worth the bet. Also, as this guitar is for both intermediate and pro-level players, one does not need to be distressed about purchasing a new guitar any time soon. And thus this shall prove to be a meaningful investment. 

I can assure you that the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster will live up to your expectations and you won’t regret buying it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster worth it?

The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is made up of high-quality materials and detailed. It can be used to play a variety of genres as you can choose from a number of configurations. It also has excellent noiseless pickups and is comfortable because of the new body contour. In sum, yes it is indeed a good guitar and worth the price.

What pickups are on the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster?

There are three pickups in this guitar. The first one is the bridge pickup, the second is the middle pick up and the last neck pick up. These are the ultra noiseless single pickups and thus you won’t have to face any unintended hum and buzz time and again. 

As you will find the S1 switching system in this guitar, you will be able to choose from the 5 different configurations and produce the tone as per your wish.

What are the models of the Fender American Ultra?

There are namely 7 models of the Fender American Ultra series.  The models are: Stratocaster, Stratocaster HSS, Telecaster, Precision Bass, Jazz master, Jazz Bass, and Jazz Bass V. Each of these models are manufactured at Fender’s factory, Corona, Calif. 

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