Introducing the Fender Ultra series

Now, this is probably gonna sound like an advertorial but it’s not: I’m just really excited about these guitars and I can’t hide how psyched I am.

So.

Fender has been on a big overhaul binge lately, re-examining their guitar lines from top to bottom, leading to things like the Vintera series (which replaces the old Standards) and the American Original line. A little while back the American Deluxe series was reimagined as the Elite but now that line has been replaced by what I can only describe after a media preview participated in last week as the ultimate iteration of high-end Fender guitars for the modern player. 

If you’ve ever thought to yourself ‘I like Fenders but I wish they had the kind of high-end playability features of, say, a Charvel or a Suhr,’ well, that’s what the American Deluxe and then the Elite series have been and you’ve been totally sleeping on it! But the Ultra series takes this to a whole new level, re-examining and redesigning everything about the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, P Bass and Jazz Bass to meet the standards of pro players. The neck joints are super-comfortable with unprecedented upper fret access; the necks have a new shape – a ‘Modern D’ which is the same depth as Fender’s classic C shape but with higher, squarer shoulders which ultimately make it feel smaller and easier to get your thumb around for those Hendrix chords; there’s a new satin neck finish formulation that will have you gliding all over the fretboard with ease; redesigned fifth-generation noiseless pickups including a hotter pair of single coils just for the HSS model Stratocaster; gorgeous new finishes… it just goes on and on. 

The press release is below which will take you through all the details, but what really excites me about the Ultra line – apart from the blue HSS Strat and the Mocha Burst Tele – is the overhaul to the Jazzmaster. New noiseless pickups and that super-fast neck mean we’re going to hear sounds and techniques coming out of a Jazzmaster that we’ve never heard before. Traditional Jazzmaster players are going to find the playing experience opened right up for them, while players who might not have considered a Jazzmaster in the past because of their playability are now going to discover tones and textures that they haven’t used before, without the limitations a more traditional Jazzmaster might place on their playing. 

So here are my favourites from each of the model/finish combos, followed by the press release.

Stratocaster HSS in Cobra Blue
Naturally there’s a SSS Stratocaster as well but this is pretty dang hot, especially when you see how the finish catches the light. The image at the top of this story will give you more of an idea of how Cobra Blue really looks.

Telecaster in Mocha Burst
Again you’re not really gonna get a full appreciation of this colour until you see it reacting to an environment, but once you do you’ll fall in love.

Jazzmaster in Ultraburst
All the Jazzmasters look great in their respective colours but Ultraburst is like the perfect Fender three-colour sunburst.

Precision Bass in Aged Natural
Fender has added a slight tint to this finish so it looks like a natural bass that’s done some livin’, minus any kind of relic treatment.

Jazz Bass in Texas Tea
Another colour that looks different depending on the lighting and viewing angle. From a distance it might look black but once you move it around you’re gonna see all sorts of interesting shades coming at you.

Jazz Bass V in Plasma Red Burst
I mean… just look at it! Isn’t that just one of the finest-lookin’ Jazz Basses you’ve ever seen?

FENDER® LAUNCHES NEW AMERICAN ULTRA SERIES INTRODUCING STATE-OF-THE-ART ENGINEERING, ELECTRIC GUITAR DESIGN OF THE FUTURE

American Ultra Delivers Industry Firsts: The Only “Modern D” Neck For Guitar and Bass, New Body Contours and Ultra Noiseless™ Vintage and Hot Pickups For Enhanced Playability

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (November 5, 2019) — Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today announced the launch of the American Ultra Series, the most-advanced modern guitar from Fender. An evolution of American Elite – Fender’s premier electric series that launched in January 2016 – the Ultra Series boasts all-new modern features, state-of-the-art craftsmanship and nuanced design. Luxurious, sleek and cutting-edge, this series sets a new industry standard for precision, performance and feel with Ultra Noiseless pickups and Fender’s fastest-playing necks. Created for a wide range of today’s highly-skilled modern artists, session and working guitarists, this series also offers a new body design and contours – a pivotal moment in Fender history, decades since the last significant alteration to the iconic Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster body shapes.

Since 1946, Fender has embraced artist and player feedback as the core driver of its process, leading to decades of subtle yet crucial innovations. These thoughtful changes in design and technology can’t always be seen by the naked eye, but are meaningful to artists who crave products that evolve with the times. As younger players create new sounds, meld existing genres and push the limits of what a guitar can do, Fender products also continue to evolve.

“The American Ultra Series is our most advanced series of guitars and basses for discerning players who demand the ultimate playing experience in precision, performance and tone,” said Justin Norvell, EVP of Product at Fender. “Blending state-of-the-art engineering and nuanced design to provide a high-performance experience for today’s player, American Ultra is the next chapter in Fender’s legacy of cutting-edge innovation. American Ultra has truly been decades in the making and is a result of our tireless commitment to meet the needs of today’s working and touring guitar players looking for a modern feel and tone.”

Inspired by Fender’s never-ending pursuit to equip players with the best tools to create, record and perform music, American Ultra is Fender’s most advanced series of instruments – providing the ultimate in precision, performance and tone. The series answers the call from discerning players looking for modern advancements to help them create at the highest level. One of these elevated features is the all-new “Modern D” neck with a compound-radius fingerboard, smooth American Ultra satin back finish and extremely rolled edges. The result is a neck that’s slim and fast – yet ergonomic and comfortable – for blazing solos and easy comping without sacrificing tone and resonance. Other key features include:

New body contours: For next level comfort and playability, Fender redesigned the body contours of its most iconic models for the first time in decades. New back body curves offer hours of gigging comfort while a super-sculpted neck heel gives players unparalleled access to the upper register of the fingerboard, resulting in better accessibility and comfort. 

Noiseless pickups: American Ultra instruments feature two types of innovative new noiseless pickups: Ultra Noiseless™ Vintage pickups deliver authentic Fender single-coil sound – without hum. Ultra Noiseless™ Hot pickups offer modern performance and classic tone so you can launch your amp into overdrive. 

HiMass™ bridge: With lots of metal, lots of mass and a cool modern look, the HiMass bridge on American Ultra basses delivers serious sustain, precise intonation and rock-solid tuning stability. 

Double Tap Humbucker: The American Ultra HSS Strat features a brand-new Double Tap Humbucker with an overwound coil to ensure matched volume between pickups in coil split mode.

Redesigned preamp with active/passive switching: A redesigned preamp on American Ultra basses features three bands of active boost/cut for sweeter highs, focused mids and lots more usable bass. For a more traditional tone, the redesigned pickups can also be used in passive mode. 

New colours: American Ultra instruments are available in a variety of colours, including: Cobra Blue, Mocha Burst, Texas Tea, Arctic Pearl, Aged Natural, Plasma Red Burst and Ultraburst.

Advanced electronics: All American Ultra guitars feature a treble-bleed circuit to preserve high-end response at any volume – plus advanced wiring options that activate different high-performance features depending on the model.

Models include (Australian recommended retail prices): 

American Ultra Stratocaster® – $3,899.00

American Ultra Stratocaster® HSS – $3,899.00

American Ultra Telecaster® – $3,899.00

American Ultra Precision Bass® – $3,899.00

American Ultra Jazzmaster® – $4,099.00

American Ultra Jazz Bass® – $4,099.00

American Ultra Jazz Bass® V – $4,299.00

For detailed specs, additional information on new Fender products or to find a retail partner near you, visit www.Fender.com. Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender.

# # #

ABOUT FENDER MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS CORPORATION:

Since 1946, Fender has revolutionized music and culture as one of the world’s leading musical instrument manufacturers, marketers and distributors. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) – whose portfolio of brands includes Fender®, Squier®, Gretsch® guitars, Jackson®, EVH® and Charvel® – follows a player-centric approach to crafting the highest-quality instruments and digital experiences across genres. Since 2015, Fender’s digital arm has introduced a new ecosystem of products and interactive experiences to accompany players at every stage of their musical journey. This includes innovative apps and learning platforms designed to complement Fender guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals, accessories and pro-audio gear, and inspire players through an immersive musical experience. FMIC is dedicated to unlocking the power of musical expression for all players, from beginners to history-making legends.

Fender George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster. Whoa.

One of my all-time favourite guitars is George Harrison’s famous rosewood Fender Telecaster – y’know, the one he played on the roof of Apple headquarters on January 30, 1969 in those spectacular green pants? Well the Fender Custom Shop is offering a reproduction of this iconic guitar right down to the finest detail. Wider nut? Yep. Two-piece rosewood neck? Uh huh. Logo over the finish instead of under it? You got it. And get this: Abigail “Abby” Ybarra came out of retirement to wind the pickups. The only thing it doesn’t include is those pants.

fender

My Tele

Telecaster

This sexy beast is my Telecaster with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound for Tele pickups. Oh the things this guitar has seen. For example…

My dad and I put it together out of bits and pieces when I was 14.

Got the pickups for my 15th birthday.

For my final year at university this was the only guitar I brought with me, and I gave myself a rule that for a year I would basically play just this guitar with heavy strings, high action and no pick (unless I was working on stuff like “Eugene’s Trick Bag” for hours on end). I would take it to blues jams and just let what would happen happen. That year was huge for my musical development. One of the guitar players in the house band would call out the names of various guitarists and I’d have to imitate them for a few bars, until he called another name. I’d have to go from S.R.V to Jeff Beck to Frank Zappa to EVH to Satriani.

I’ve used it in a funk band, I’ve tuned it to Open C to play Ocean Machine songs, I’ve played it in front of 6,000 people alongside a DJ, and in smoky pubs where I’ve played slide on it using a beer bottle.

And we have lots of years of adventures left in us.

Tele

Fender Expands American Standard Series

Fender American Standard Series

Hello baby.

PRESS RELEASE: Fender is proud to expand its popular American Standard series. The series, which debuted in 1986, has become the proverbial heart of the Fender brand, fusing the best of classic and contemporary features. “The Fender American Standard series is the core of the Fender lineup, the place where we combine our 60-plus years of history with modern innovations in a perfect blend of the best of yesterday and today,” said Justin Norvell, vice president of marketing at Fender. “They are handcrafted American originals, and the choice of professionals worldwide. These seven new models provide musicians with an even greater tonal palette, making the American Standard a great choice no matter what features or sounds a player is seeking. With the American Standard series, we make art in our instruments, so musicians can make their art with them in their music.” Read More …

A Bunch O’ New Fenders

fender-tele-triple-classic-player-black-2

Aah, is there anything sweeter than seeing an email in my inbox about a bunch of new Fender models? Well, maybe that day I brought home my Fender American Vintage ’62 Strat Reissue or perhaps my Squier Bass VI. But in terms of guitar-geek excitement level, there’s something primal about the Fender logo that still makes me giddy after all these years. Today they’ve announced some new Limited Edition American Standard Series guitars, new Classic Player Series models and a Special Edition Blacktop Series guitar, as well as some pretty dang sweet Custom Shop stuff. Here’s the press release: Read More …

INTERVIEW: Shihad’s Jon Toogood

Shihad FVEYShihad worship at the altar of The Riff. Few bands this side of AC/DC have managed a knack for instantly identifiable, eminently air-guitarable riffs. But although they’ve enjoyed a consistent career of killer albums and shows, new album FVEY stands above their immense catalog as The One That Will Probably Move Them Up A Notch. Produced by Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman, this album encapsulates everything everyone has always loved about Shihad – the riffs, the song craft, the energetic performance, the melody, the thought-provoking lyrics. But there’s something more happening on this one. I caught up with vocalist/guitarist/riffmeister Jon Toogood to talk about it.

First thing we all want to know is ‘Where the hell do these riffs come from?’

Okay, we’ve been experimenting with this tuning which is basically standard E with the bottom string dropped to a bass-register A. So you’re doing the A, an octave A, and then the rest of the guitar is tuned normally. And it’s quite hard to play because the low string is really floppy but once you get used to it it makes this wall of sound. You get a decent amp and turn it up loud, and then you play with a great bass player like Karl and a great guitar player like Phil, and when you all play in unison and are in tune it sounds like Satan’s bass player. Read More …