American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Review

manufacturer: Fender date: 12/21/2013 category: Electric Guitars
Fender: American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster
The S-1 Switching and new samarium cobalt noiseless pickups make this guitar extremely versatile and give the player an endless array of pickup configurations and superior tones.
 Sound: 9.4
 Overall Impression: 9.6
 Reliability & Durability: 9.1
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9.1
 Features: 9.3
 Overall rating:
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 Users rating:
reviews (7) pictures (4) 7 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.8
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: DaveA, on november 09, 2012
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1555.5

Purchased from: Macari's, London

Features: 60th Anniversary badge (tiny) on back of headstock, serial number says it was made in 2005. Out of Corona California. 22 well finished, medium jumbo frets, rosewood fingerboard, abalone position markers, nice touch. Nicely figured chunk of Ash, good weight. I don't like light guitars. Played Les Pauls for years before this, hence the stoop. Well finished in aged cherry burst, thought it might look a little girly, but it works well, (just need a '59 LP Standard to match). Nice bridge, well balanced, top-end trem. unit. I changed the saddles for Graph Tech Ferraglide equivalents, but have just changed back, and have to report that sustain is better, tone brighter, and she's still a rock for tuning stability. Samarium Cobalt pickups. What can I say? Brilliant tone in every position, and nice to be able to roll off some treble on the bridge pickup (although, I must say that this pickup digs in really nicely with no load, and doesn't grate as much as some I've played). Started soloing on middle setting as well, and the neck pickup is just beautiful, as I said, great in every position. I'm not wild about the S1 alternative tones, (vol. control switch depressed), as they sound pretty compressed to my ears (although they have their uses, and will appeal to a lot of people). My major criticism of this guitar relates to the electrics, it tends to pop and crackle when switching between the 2 S1 options. I have considered having mine checked out by a qualified techie. Locking Sperzel machine heads are excellent, and tuners are smooth and true. Well cut nut, although why they factory string this guitar with 9's is beyond me! 10's or above please, 9's just sound weedy. I was expecting mine to turn up in a bog-standard Fender molded case, but it arrived in a nice retro job, which was nice! So, all in all, very well made, very playable guitar, and, although we tend to pay over the odds for American Strats in the UK, I don't feel in any way cheated, just sort out the electronics Fender (and I know I'm not the first to say this). Been playing pro and semi-pro for 30 years, all kinds of styles, and I would recommend this guitar (or rather my copy), to anyone. // 8

Sound: Plays just about anything well. Really comfortable neck, great for big bends. Also, very responsive volume and tone controls, crank the amp and roll off some volume and the sound is fabulous. Violining is a dream (if that's the bag you're into). I'm using it through a Mesa/Boogie Nomad 55, currently with no effects, although I have used a cry-baby and a chorus in the past. This guitar is quiet (apart from the switching pops mentioned above). I am in love with the SCN pickups. If you have a good valve amp this guitar will just knock you out, as everything you do on the guitar, every nuance, comes through perfectly. Very expressive. If you activate the S1 Switch you could probably funk yourself blind in no time at all. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: Came out of the box pretty well set up, although I had Macari's fit 10's before shipping it to me. I like to tinker, so a few minor adjustments made to action, trem unit etc: but basically playable out of the box. I've heard some bad reports regarding the finish on some of these guitars, but mine is fine (although getting the plastic cover off the pick guard always drives me nuts). // 9

Reliability & Durability: Built like a rock, it's a Strat for god's sake! Metal parts are chrome, had to file the rough edges off the pickup selector, but I won't hold it against them. Finish is very well applied, although it will get dinks and wear over time, I don't care. I use other guitars live, so it would never be out without a chaperone. // 9

Overall Impression: I play rock/country rock, and I bought an American Strat, nuff said? As mentioned above, I have been playing 30 years + and I consider this to be one of the best guitars that I've owned. I hardly ever use the S1 Switch as the Strat sounds are just perfect, a real Vintage feel and tone. Get one, you'll play better! Strats have always been value for money, I like Les Pauls, but my god do they cost, and they don't play any better than this. I use this guitar in conjunction with my '56 Goldtop reissue, and that's pretty much all I need, apart from the Gretsch Duo Jet, the '59 Standard, the SG Custom 3 pickup. // 9

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overall: 8.8
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: AthenasGhost, on november 09, 2012
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 0.79

Purchased from: Fender Store

Sound: This is an amazing sounding guitar, extremely versitile. It has suited every style of music that I play from jazz to metal. This pickup configurations on this guitar make it all the more versitile. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out what sound suits the style best. It can go from a warm sound to a very bright sound. I am currently using a Randall RG75 G2 series amplifier with this guitar, which suits it perfectly. Less for jazz, more for rock, but is still possible to get a nice warm tone out of with this guitar. This guitar has a slight hum on most settings when the volume settings reach nearly 7, but is not a problem when on lower volumes, and is not noticible with a band behind you. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: The action came from the factory pretty well. The action was a little high, but still extremely comfortable for the music I play. The pickups were adjusted exactly how the Fender manual told you to set them up to stock. Everything was properly routed on this guitar. Nothing was flawed on this guitar, except after about a month of playing one of the strap buttons comes loose fairly easily, but nothing a screwdriver can't fix. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This guitar will withstand Live playing, and has already, it is built like a rock. It is also very comfortable to play Live, and is not too heavy. The hardware definately seems like it will last, I have heard only good reviews on this guitar, which is why I bought it. The strap button by the neck is solid, the other one comes loose fairly easily. The finish seems extremely durable, and very thickly layered, although in the right angle you can see a lot of scratch marks from my pick. // 8

Overall Impression: This guitar has matched everything I've ever wanted in a guitar, it suits every style of music I have ever played, and with the different pickup configurations it continues to. I have been playing guitar for six years, since I was eight, I'm fourteen now. I own this Fender Strat, a Randall RG75 G2 Series amplifier, a Samick Greg Bennet Design acoustic, and a Marshall MXL 990 Condenser microphone. If it were stolen or lost, I would try my hardest to find it. If I couldn't I would probably buy another one, (It is insured) but I would also try other guitars in the stores. I love the tone it produces, I love just about everything about it, the slim neck, I could go on and on. I'm not a huge fan of the sunburst because just about every other Strat player has it. But it's alright. My favorite feature would definately have to be the slim neck. I had tried out quite a few electric guitars in store before this one, but then I tried this and fell in love with it. My dad also liked it so he got it for my for my birthday. I wish it had a Floyd Rose Tremelo, but there isn't a lot I can ask for this guitar. Oh yeah, this guitar's nut is also made from Bone. // 9

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overall: 8.8
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: Tomaz24, on november 09, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1354.2

Purchased from: Education Department

Features: I'm going to avoid getting into too many technical details about this guitar, because there are lots of reviews here already and if you're seriously thinking of spending this sort of cash, I'm sure you'll have the sense to read them all. The basics are as such; an Ash body, locking tuners, SCN pickups and it has S1 switching. The guitar comes with a hard case that shapes the body exactly, with a strap, some strap locks, a high quality but very short cable and a polishing kit. // 8

Sound: I play a variety of music, in my band I primarily play funk with hints rock and ska whilst at home, I play a lot of typically Hendrix/SRV/Mayer stylized stuff as well as lots of jazz and blues. This guitar in my opinion suits them all, and I have to say, it's probably the most versatile guitar I've ever used, right up there with the Paul Reed Smith guitars. There are just so many different voices you can get out of that five way selector, not to mention when you start playing around with the tone knobs. The S1 switching, I'm not so hot about, it's a very nice extra, but it wasn't a selling point for me. I personally don't believe in humbuckers in strats, mainly because they just weren't built for them. The tone you get is pretty decent when your using it, but it has to be said; doesn't compare to a real Gibson Les Paul or whatever. The SCN pickups seem to be something that people either love or despise; and my theory is that it just depends on their styles. I can understand how a metal head, might not really dig them, because when you're shunting distortion and overdrive through them, you could probably do better. But for guitarists more focused on the cleaner styles, rock, blues, jazz and so on; they're an absolute dream, in my opinion at least. They're warm, clarified and creamy at the bridge and really hit that country twang when you bring in the bridge. What I will say about them, is that they're much quieter than most pickups, so expect to be boosting your volume if you get hold of this. If you're using a solid state amp, I can see how this could cause grievances with the pickups, as the higher the volume the worse the tone, but when you're using a tube amp (especially one that's great for cleans like my Hot Rod Deluxe) it's almost an advantage having to crank it slightly more to purify the tone further. If the amp gives a little, you get a lot, in other words. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: The action came balanced quite nicely. A little higher than I'm used to, but not outrageously high or anything. All the adjustments were obviously carefully made and the finish of everything was superb. This is where that extra couple of hundred you splash for the deluxe brand really begins to seem worth it, because everything came in immaculate condition. I only wish they didn't string with Fender Bullets. But that's a company issue that we can put aside. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I went looking for a great gigging guitar, and when I came across this, I found it. The Ash body is seriously light which make playing long sets and moving around on stage much easier. I feel so much more comfortable because there's so much less weight on my shoulders. The locking tuners are absolutely excellent and it makes me wonder how I ever managed without them. Now when I use bends, I can use them with the confidence that their not going to send me way out thus ruining the song. That level or assurance, I feel is very important. They also mean that if you snap a string on stage, you can be re-strung and ready to go in about 50 seconds. Now I don't bother bringing a backup! The quality of the build means it's very robust too. I decided that there's no point in spending all that money if I'm not going to get my money's worth. After all, why bother splashing out if you're just going obsess over every little knock or scratch it picks up? Fortunately however, despite my best efforts to be as careless as possible, it's still in excellent condition. It can take a knock or two, don't worry. Seems built to last too. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this guitar and it's the nicest thing I've ever owned. The tone you can get out of this baby is heavenly and I think it has to be up there as one of the best strats available at the moment. I got mine in the beautiful aged cherry sunburst finish with a rosewood fretboard, which looks incredible and it's a nice compromise between the really common darker sunburst finish and something a little more unique. Because I'm a music student, I was able to buy mine through the education department which meant I didn't have to pay VAT, so instead of 870 I paid something in the region of 700! Quite a steal. But honestly, I'd definitely have paid full price if I had to! In conclusion, this Strat has everything; the quality and the character, if you will. For a long time I was adamant I'd be getting a relic, but I soon realized they're only more expensive because they're collectors items. If you're really only looking for something fantastic sounding, charismatic, reliable and worthy of you're musical journey, look no further. // 9

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overall: 9.4
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: rageagainst64, on november 09, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1200

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: This is a Fender American Deluxe Strat. Made (in Corona, CA) of a nice piece of Ash, which gives this thing a nice weight. 22 medium sized frets on a rosewood fretboard. Abalone Dot fret markers (nice cosmetic touch). Aged plastic components. Mine has a 3-tone sunburst finish (brown to red to black). Synchronized tremolo bridge. 5-way pick selector. 3 single passive Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Pickups (ho, baby), new S-1 Switch in volume pot, fender/schaller locking tuners. comes with a very nice, very sturdy, hard shell case. // 10

Sound: I play this guy through an Ibanez Tone-Blaster half stack. I also frequently use a Vox wah, MXR phaser, and Big Muff Russia. First of all, this guitar is tonally extremely versatile due to the great SCN pickups (which I prefer to any other Fender stock pickup and Lace Sensors) and the tone-changing S-1 Switch. The tone and volume knobs are very responsive, and greatly affect your tone, unlike some guitars I've tried. Although this isn't really a high gain guitar, the pickups give you little to no hum or buzz no matter how high you crank the gain, hence Samarium Cobalt noiseless. I play psychedelic, electric blues, classic rock, funk, jam band, and hard rock, but I dabble in many other genres. The Fender Deluxe fits all of them quite nicely. You can get those full, crisp, Vintage shimmering Strat tones with this guitar as soon as you play it. I look at the S-1 Switch as almost a "boost" Switch. It makes your tone noticeably fuller and warmer, which is great to have in any type of music. It adds many tonal options on this guitar. It could be used it as a solo boost I suppose. If you're looking for an artist of one of the above mentioned genre's specific tone, this guitar might be worth a look for you. With a bit of tweaking, I can easily get Hendrix tones, Clapton's "woman" tone, Frank Zappa's tone, Jimmy Page's tones, SRV's tone, and many others. If you're looking for Slash's or Angus Young's tone, I probably wouldn't settle for this guitar, as it takes a lot of messing around to get their tones. On a clean channel, this guitar is flawless. It can play some amazing clean blues and rock tones (BB King, Clapton's later days, the Doors, Phish, etc). This guitar responds to all of my effects nicely, especially my wah. You can play anything on this guitar, from sweet blues tunes, to fiery psychedelic, to funky-ass jam sessions. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: When I got this guitar, the pickups were set up very nicely. However, the bridge was a bit too high for me, so I added 2 more springs to the 3 it had in the back. I changed out the Fender Bullet. 10 gauge strings for Ernie Ball.11 Slinkys. I had to adjust the action to where I prefer it. As far as I could see, there were no flaws in the guitar's finish. The treble tone knob sticks when it's at 10, but in a way that makes me wonder if it's supposed to do so. The pickup selector does make a "click" when it's switched that's pretty noticeable when playing alone, but it's impossible to hear when backed by a band. This guitar has a snap-in whammy bar whole, but it came with a screw-in Standard whammy, which doesn't fit. I was a bit disappointed in this. But the biggest problem was that there were a few pieces of loose solder jangling around in the guitar's wiring and pickups cavities, so I had to unscrew a corner of the pickguard to shake them out. And of course, the plastic coating on the pickguard is always a pain in the ass to get off! // 8

Reliability & Durability: With this guitar, I've only played one Live show so far. and it performed perfectly. Everything on it seems like it's gonna last longer than I am. The strap buttons, while not perfect, get the job done pretty well. If you adjust your strap to be long, the top of your strap does tend to come off of it's button when you play this sitting down, but that's not too much of a problem, unless you forget about it! I never usually gig with a backup guitar, and this guitar only supports that decision. It's got that Fender rock-solid build to it. And the case it comes with seems incredibly sturdy. The guitar seems to be pretty generously coated with it's beautiful finish, so unless you really smash this thing, I think this'll last you a long, long, time. // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing for a few years now, and I consider myself intermediate to advanced level as a player. Like I said before, I play psychedelic, electric blues, classic rock, funk, jam band, and hard rock, but I dabble in many other genres. The Fender American Deluxe fits em all. I own a Washburn Idol that I never play, and a homemade Strat. And this Strat obviously beats em hands down. This guitar is unbelievably fun to just pick up and play. My favorite feature is definitely those sweet SCN pickups. They give you so much lovely tone! If this guitar was stolen, I would be very upset, and I definitely start saving up to buy another one. The American Deluxe is very easy on the eyes and ears. Be sure to check this one out, guys. // 10

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overall: 10
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: cfinch, on november 09, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Features: This guitar was made in 2007, and is a American Made Deluxe Ash Strat. 22 Jumbo frets. Neck isn't too thick or too thin. It's right there in the middle, which I love. I got the Tobacco Sunburst which seemed to me not to bright and not too dull. Also, the pictures does not do the beauty of this guitar justice, you need to see it in person to get the full effect. 5 way switch just like all other Strats. I have the older model which comes with SCN signle coil pickups, with S-1 switch built into the volume knob (push button). Locking Fender tuners. Nice hardshell case that holds guitar perfectly. // 10

Sound: I've been playing around 13 years. Most of that was spent playing mostly Metallica and Ratt riffs and other 80's metal (hard rock to metal stuff). I grew up playing a cheap Ibanez, switched to a Schecter XXX series that took me into more Precision metal and rock, but had the humbucker coil splitter that introduced me to that top single coil tone, beautiful. I was already a well-rounded player by the time I got this guitar, but my "style" was (and still is) in the making. I had a Marshall JCM 2000 half stack that I played my Schecter through, but want a guitar to play at church that didn't have stripper ladies on the fret board, and I wanted another guitar. So to the point... My "style" instantly shifted from years of metal and rock, to smooth blues and hints of jazz when they set me up on this Strat and a full tube Marshall at the store... No lie, as soon as I held it and hit those first few clean strums and runs, I knew it was the one. So I currently use a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 100, and a Line 6 Flextone 2 with it. The only noise I know of is a click or pop when pushing the S-1 switch, which I think is commmon and doesn't really get in the way of anything. The tone that guitar can push is amazing. It's very versitile. It is a very pure sound. Through a tube amp you can hear every little nuance. The SCN pickups are a little on the low out put side but other than that they put out a very organic sound. Then you have the typical Strat sounds with the 5 way selector. I found that the S-1 switch muddies up the tone a little much for me "style" of playing. I'll admit though that one of the best tone that I found playing live with my Marshall was the bridge and middle pickup and the S-1 engaged. It took that country twang and beef it up to almost a classic rock feel. Great for strumming full sounding chords when the volume was rolled back to around 5 or 6, and then swelling that volume back up to 10 for full gain, it was PERFECT. I played on that setting almost every time I played because the tone was just perfect. But other than that I haven't really used the S-1 much. I may start though because I'm getting into jazz guitar and I'm really excited about finding some more tones that I didn't know were there... Which is an awesome in itself to be able to say. I don't know how this guitar does with a tube amp for metal/hard rock, but on my digital Line 6 Flextone 2, I could easily hash out some death metal riffs, and lines. It dosn't compare to a full on humbucker for metal, and the sustain isn't forever, so it is what it is. I actually put a Seymour Duncan hotrail in the bridge, but felt horrible about it and put the original back in. I can make this guitar scream... I can make a Charvel scream for longer but nonetheless this guitar can have some punch with the right settings. It's not a shredder though. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: This guitar was perfect cosmetically from the store. As far as the set up I can't remember. I have done so much tweaking to it I can't say. But it was good enough for me to fall in love with it so I guess it was good! I had to adjust the pickups to even the out put of them, which took like two minutes, no big deal. // 10

Reliability & Durability: That is one thing that truly amazed me about this guitar. I would play this thing for hours, jamming on it, riff after riff, solo after solo, song after song, and then realize I had not tuned it once. Then I would strum a big G chord and it was as in tune as it was when I started. No lie. But, if you mess with one string, you mess with them all. If you drop that top E to D, get ready to tune the other strings. That floating trem doesn't hold well with stuff like that. This guitar is built like a rock. I've played live with it ALOT. Sweated on it. Played the hell out of it. I mean straight up jammin... Not to mention the countless hours of practice time on my own... Finish is still good, no wear, pick guard, chrom, etc. Everythings seems to still be in good condition. I played with this guitar about 40 times without a back up. Seriously it's great. // 10

Overall Impression: I play metal, rock, blues, jazz, etc... This guitar with the help of some digital fx will pump out some hard core riffs and solos, but it is no shredder or scream machine. It's absolutely perfection when it comes to the other styles like jazz and blues, and I mean even rock.. It's no wimpy guitar. That setting- middle and bridge pickup/S-1 switch activated playing through my Marshall was one of the best clean (with volume rolled off to like 6) and then heavier lead when rolled back up... I can't even explain the dynamic I was using when going from a soft verse and then rolling that volume back up for the gain to go in to a bigger chorus. It's was absolutely beautiful. I've been playing for 13 years. I've owned Ibanez, Schecter, Taylors, etc... I actually didn't know what I was buying at the time of my purchase. I knew it was an American Made Strat. That's all I cared about. Turns out I got a guitar than has become priceless to me and more that I would have imagined I had the time of purchase. I played Paul Reed Smiths, Les Pauls, etc... I had a three thousand dollars on my credit card and I was going in their ready to max it out... I played the best ones I could find, believe me, and I walked out of their totally satisfied with this one. I could be vain and say that I wish I could play more metal with it, but that would be stupid. It's a Strat. I may one day abandon the S-1 switch and get me a preloaded EMG HSS pickguard maybe to get a little more versatility on that end of the tonal universe. But as of now I'm fully satisfied. One more thing. Call me and idiot, I deserve it. I actually went to trade this guitar in about a week ago at Sam Ash for an Ibanez SV. I thought that I was making the right move in getting a guitar that could play metal and the be able to split the top humbucker to get that single coil sound. IT WAS NOT THE SAME. I was gonna have to trade in my Marshall only to break even with what little money they gave me for the trade on this Strat. I took the Ibanez back, and wound up giving them 93$ to get this Strat back. Moral of the story, believe me when I say it's worth it. I gave it away and I almost cried. But I got it back, so I'm good. // 10

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overall: 10
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 09, 2012
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1

Purchased from: Jim's Music, Irvine, CA

Features: These guitars have been produced recently and will most likely remain in production for a long time. It's a beautiful ash body with a maple neck and classic Strat styling. They come in only 2 or 3 colors, but you can't go wrong with any of them. Mine is an aged cherry sunburst. Red on the edges and transparent in the middle. It is has 22 classic style frets, 2 single coil pickups, a humbucker, and a 5-way selector. This combo makes it possible to be shredding your favorite licks all night, and then turning it over to play crystal clear bluesy tones. It is an extremely well built, durable, beautiful, versatile, fun and easy to play guitar. It also came equipped with a sturdy hardshell Fender case, leather Fender strap, 10 foot instrument cable, and a whammy bar. // 10

Sound: Personally, I play just about all kinds of music. I like being able to Switch a channel and start playing along to my favorite metal licks, and flicking it back and playing it like an acoustic. Speaking of acoustic, this guitar has a beautiful tone and sound off the amp. Just playing it in a quiet room is awesome. The ash body tends to dry out the longer the owner has it, so the tone only improves with time. I have a 100 watt Marshall MG that fits perfect with this guitar. Although, the amazing versatility of the pickup arrangment and 5 way selector makes it easily adaptable to almost any amp setup. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: When I bought the guitar, it was perfectly tuned, no scratches, dings, or smudges. It appeared freshly polished. The staff at Jim's Music in Irvine, CA take great care of all the products they sell, and have informative, amazing salespeople who offer more than enough service. The guitar was perfectly setup the first time I played it in the store. I quickly got used to the 5-way selector, normally playing a 3-way. // 10

Reliability & Durability: When I got this guitar home, I played it for several hours. When I was done, I put it back in the case. The next morning, I got it out again for another 3 hours - no difference from when I strummed the first chord. I don't gig, because I'm not in a band. I do have jamming buddies though, and we play a lot. It can handle everything. This guitar is extremely durable. It would probably take Pete Townsend quite a while to bust up this axe. // 10

Overall Impression: I have been playing for a couple years, and started with an Ibanez acoustic dreadnought style guitar. I had lots of fun learning, but it was time for an electric. I play all kinds of music, everything from licks inspired from Iron Maiden and The Darkness to sharp crisp blues tones from Sublime and ZZ Top. If I starting gigging later in life, I would buy another one of these guitars to have as a solo guitar or something. Two is always better than one. // 10

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overall: 9.4
American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster Reviewed by: DJ Dunzie, on december 21, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 1699

Purchased from: LA Music

Features: My American Deluxe Stratocaster is the 2012 Sienna Sunburst Ash SSS model, with rosewood neck. It replaces a 2012 Sienna Sunburst Ash HSS American Standard in my arsenal. The Deluxe has fairly well known specs, including locking Deluxe F logo machine tuners, a compound radius neck (9.5" to 14") with 22 Medium Jumbo frets and 4-bolt micro-tilt adjustability, bi-flex truss rod, a premium ash body with a bevelled heel, noiseless N3 single coils, 2 point synch Deluxe tremolo, an innovative S1 switch, hand rolled fret edges, aged white controls and covers and 3-ply mint guard, Schaller strap locks, and loads more. Honestly, this is about as spec-loaded a Strat as you can get these days. Not vintage specs, but while I appreciate the nice vintage stuff too, this is a player's guitar in every way, with all the most modern features you can throw on a Strat. // 10

Sound: So, for starters, I've heard a few complaints over the years about Fender's noiseless pickups in past, and my own experience was with (1) the noiseless pickups in the Deluxe Player Strat MIM, and (2) an older generation of noiseless singles in early 2000's Deluxes. I have played the hot noiseless pickups in the Beck artist Strat and really enjoyed them. But these pickups - the N3's in the current American Deluxe - suit me PERFECTLY. Great single-coil Strat chime and clarity, without the dull, lifeless feeling I got from the ones in the cheaper Deluxe Player and older AD's. Great attack, traditional Strat quack and good sustain. I love them. They work MUCH better with my dirt pedals than the Fat 50's CS jobs in the American Standards. And the S1 switch that I find near-useless for my tastes on my American Deluxe Tele? I love it on the Strat. Particularly in positions 2 and 4 which I use a lot, the S1 gives me a quick tone change that I use a lot. Extremely useful on the Strat, and for a guitar that already excels at being versatile, the tonal options are near-limitless now. Quiet when you don't want it to be noisy, but articulate and traditional Strat tone when you want it. Just an all around great guitar sound. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: I own 5 American made Fenders at this point, and based on my experience my standards are now very high. I've never had anything but a thoroughly rewarding guitar experience with any of my American Fenders, and for the most part this one was no exception. However, I'm going to dock a point because there was a very small finish blemish in the underside of the guitar down low near the bottom horn where you could only ever see it under close scrutiny. I found it. Extremely minor, but again, impossible now to call fit and finish "perfect." It appears that the final finish coat just ran a barely visible amount in this area. The dealer knocked a few bucks off the guitar which helped me ignore it. Otherwise, just one outstanding guitar. Fret edges buttery smooth, electronics and controls smooth and flawless, nice weight, incredible finish, and the tuners, bridge, saddles, and compound radius neck are all nothing short of incredible. I'll never notice the slight blemish in the surface finish when playing, especially when the rest of the guitar is just so perfect. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I've never had an American Fender let me down in any way. I expect no different here. I always have a backup at hand, based more on the fact that I have other US Fenders I like to mix in, but this guitar is clearly now my number one. Strap locks standard is a great touch, as I added them to my US Standards. Based on the quality of this build, along with the durability of components and construction I've come to know and expect, have to rate this really high. The only caveat is the S1 switch is a bit of an unknown to me... unsure how many "switches" these are rated for. // 9

Overall Impression: We play everything from classic guitar rock, to modern country, to mellower blues, to '60s rock and roll, and just about anything in between. This guitar could do our entire gig without question, on the same amp and effects board. Versatility is a definite strong point. The guitar is beautiful to look at, even nicer to play, and the tones it creates do everything from heavy to mellow very well. All in all, the best guitar I've owned, and I have owned some I really loved. I'm now looking for a 2nd one to save some wear on this one. While US Standards are great, the compound radius neck is a feature that grew on me so fast I now want it on my future guitars. Add in the noiseless N3's which surprised me, the locking tuners, the strap locks, the improvements in the bridge and saddles (to my tastes) and you start to see why the Deluxes cost a little more, and why it's hard for me to not justify the price difference. Color me one very happy owner. // 10

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