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.
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 A little while back the American Deluxe series was reimagined as the Elite but now that line has been replaced by what I can only describe after a media preview participated in last week as the ultimate iteration of high-end Fender guitars for the modern player.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.
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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.