Guitar Center - 2018 Limited Edition Fender Stratocaster Elite HSS

orneryduck

Strat-Talk Member
Nov 28, 2022
61
FL
Seemed this post had a lot of attention back in the time these were announced, but I haven't seen much since then. They look beautiful and very unique in appearance/configuration from a normal Stratocaster. I can imagine that is polarizing for purists, but for someone with an appreciation of PRS and other similar guitars, it seems like a Stratocaster with an aggressive modern take. I think it was a good pick to start with an Elite since it already did many modern/controversal things to a classic strat (compound neck radius, inverted truss rod, noiseless pickups, HSS configuration, and the S-1/Push-push controls...)

I love the colorway - not sure how to feel about the truss rod or S-1/push-push configuration compared to the straight-forward stuff that's been around for nearly forever. I think the American Pro II HSS/Ultra, does a much better job on the control functions. Overall, all the Elite departure from tradition fits the character of the colorway and other details.

Original thread:

Trying to find more information about them but details are scarce, even from Fender.
The serial number lookup tool returns the usual alphabet soup and a model number, but the model number doesn't cross-reference to a detail sheet.

Model Number: 0170262760
LE = Limited Edition
AM = American
STRT = Stratocaster
ELITE = Elite
HSS = Humbucker / Single / Single configuration
QMT = Quilted Maple Top
MN = Maple Neck
AMM = Aqua Marine Metallic

-How many actually bought one of the LE Strats or Teles? How have you liked them?
-Were these really limited to only one of each per GC store, or did some get multiples?
-Are they considered Fender Special Runs?
 
Last edited:

Belexes

Strat-O-Master
Feb 7, 2019
842
Idaho
I saw them at the Boise GC. No rosewood/ebony, so just glanced at them.

They didn't sell them very quickly.
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,510
Kansas City
They are special runs for Guitar Center. Guitar Center set the number they ordered - it's certainly possible that they only ordered 1 of each model available for each store for that 2018 run.

They've done something like this with American Elites and now American Ultras every year since then - this year's version is the American Ultra maple top with an "umbra burst" color and ebony fingerboards - they have the Tele, HSS Strat, SSS Strat (pictured) and the P-bass:

L95546000001000-00-720x720.jpg


The previous version was called "denim"; there are still a few of them around (and they are $200 less than the new "umbra" models):

L84237000001000-00-720x720.jpg


EDIT: I just realized I didn't answer your question: These are pretty much just cosmetic changes from the "regular" model - adding the maple top, and since the American Elites were replaced by the American Ultras these limited editions get ebony fingerboards instead of the standard maple or rosewood.

The American Elites had a lot of things that were only on that model run - they replaced the 3rd generation of American Deluxe series at the start of 2016, and were replaced by the American Ultra series around October/November of 2019.

The American Elites were the only Fender-branded guitars to use that truss rod wheel - you'll find that on EVH Gear models, Charvel models and some Jacksons, and the necks were both a compound radius and a compound back shape that would transition from a C shape to a D shape as you move higher up the fingerboard. The body shape had a more rounded neck heel than what the American Deluxes had (that contoured heel is now used on American Professional II models) but not as aggressively contoured as the American Ultras. The electronics were Fender's N4 noiseless pickups, and it had similar S-1 switching as the 2nd and 3rd generation American Deluxes where the switch gives you 5 additional settings (the current S-1 switching on the SSS American Ultras just adds the neck and bridge pickups together in position 1 and gives you all 3 pickups on in position 2, and the S-1 on the HSS models just splits the humbucker).

Hope that helps.
 
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racerx819

Strat-Talker
Jul 3, 2020
280
Paradise
I had an Elite SSS. Not that color. Otherwise I thought it was modern, played well with low action. Thumb over stuff was not as good as say an AVRI or AO 7.25/9.5 radius.

If you like modern specs it’s a great option. Build quality was great.

Tone was quiet and maybe compressed or something

For sure not like my CS vinatage stuff sounds like.

When I think about it, the tone is modern Except I can’t describe that.
 

orneryduck

Strat-Talk Member
Nov 28, 2022
61
FL
I seem to enjoy noiseless more than most of the old guard -- it is hard to parse the hearsay from the truths about the noiseless. I get all sorts of 'they are compressed', 'dead midrange', and 'they just fail for no reason at all'. Possible it is all true but I can't speak intelligently to those as facts. I know I loved the Lace Golds in my last guitar, I'm a bloody casual though, and the little I've heard of N4's, they sound nice. The Shawbucker seems like a nice Humbucker, sadly no split by default and word is the Shawbucker is too weak to split for the single coil bridge sound.
 

415guitars

Strat-Talk Member
Sep 8, 2022
26
California
Bum
They are special runs for Guitar Center. Guitar Center set the number they ordered - it's certainly possible that they only ordered 1 of each model available for each store for that 2018 run.

They've done something like this with American Elites and now American Ultras every year since then - this year's version is the American Ultra maple top with an "umbra burst" color and ebony fingerboards - they have the Tele, HSS Strat, SSS Strat (pictured) and the P-bass:

L95546000001000-00-720x720.jpg


The previous version was called "denim"; there are still a few of them around (and they are $200 less than the new "umbra" models):

L84237000001000-00-720x720.jpg


EDIT: I just realized I didn't answer your question: These are pretty much just cosmetic changes from the "regular" model - adding the maple top, and since the American Elites were replaced by the American Ultras these limited editions get ebony fingerboards instead of the standard maple or rosewood.

The American Elites had a lot of things that were only on that model run - they replaced the 3rd generation of American Deluxe series at the start of 2016, and were replaced by the American Ultra series around October/November of 2019.

The American Elites were the only Fender-branded guitars to use that truss rod wheel - you'll find that on EVH Gear models, Charvel models and some Jacksons, and the necks were both a compound radius and a compound back shape that would transition from a C shape to a D shape as you move higher up the fingerboard. The body shape had a more rounded neck heel than what the American Deluxes had (that contoured heel is now used on American Professional II models) but not as aggressively contoured as the American Ultras. The electronics were Fender's N4 noiseless pickups, and it had similar S-1 switching as the 2nd and 3rd generation American Deluxes where the switch gives you 5 additional settings (the current S-1 switching on the SSS American Ultras just adds the neck and bridge pickups together in position 1 and gives you all 3 pickups on in position 2, and the S-1 on the HSS models just splits the humbucker).

Hope that helps.
Bummed that it’s streaked ebony now, the newer CME/Andertons FSRs are as well.
 

The Birdman

Strat-Talker
Apr 8, 2007
168
Dee-Troit Blues City
I own one of the 2018 Elite Strats. From what I saw, they were indeed limited to about one Strat and Tele per store. I bought the Strat at the store I frequent, and the Tele that store got actually had a STRAT neck put on it by mistake. It still sold.

That store did get another Strat, but I think it was sourced from another GC.

FSR? It was never called that per se, but I think you have to consider it that.
 

orneryduck

Strat-Talk Member
Nov 28, 2022
61
FL
A picture of my 2018 Elite, plus a picture of the GC promo materials from 2018 Black Friday.



View attachment 609528 View attachment 609529

I spoke to Fender and they did confirm that they ‘are a Fender Special Run commissioned by GC.’ - the representative was also able to confirm production numbers are within the small window if 350 to 360 total. Slightly more than some posts have mentioned but still very low numbers overall.

😍
Yours is absolutely gorgeous! I won’t lie, the biggest draw to them is the finishing.

How do you like the sound compared to say a standard SSS Strat?

I had Lace Golds in an SSS setup and liked them a lot. I’ve never had a (traditional) humbucker before though, so going that route may be strange, especially as I love the twang of a Strat bridge. I find the passing lane switch silly for my purpose as a home player - I’d rather have the ability to split the humbucker (and have one that sounds decent doing it).
 

The Birdman

Strat-Talker
Apr 8, 2007
168
Dee-Troit Blues City
I spoke to Fender and they did confirm that they ‘are a Fender Special Run commissioned by GC.’ - the representative was also able to confirm production numbers are within the small window if 350 to 360 total. Slightly more than some posts have mentioned but still very low numbers overall.

😍
Yours is absolutely gorgeous! I won’t lie, the biggest draw to them is the finishing.

How do you like the sound compared to say a standard SSS Strat?

I had Lace Golds in an SSS setup and liked them a lot. I’ve never had a (traditional) humbucker before though, so going that route may be strange, especially as I love the twang of a Strat bridge. I find the passing lane switch silly for my purpose as a home player - I’d rather have the ability to split the humbucker (and have one that sounds decent doing it).

I actually prefer SSS Strats. I have two other SSS Elite Strats, they work better for me. I will be honest and say the only reason I bought it was for the top. :)

It feels unbalanced to me with the humbucker and the two single coils. Although....if you depress the S1 switch with the pickup switch in position 4, it gives you the neck and middle pickups in series, which has its similarities to a 2 humbucker guitar in that mode.

The Passing Lane switch for me is worthless and I don't use it.
 

orneryduck

Strat-Talk Member
Nov 28, 2022
61
FL
I actually prefer SSS Strats. I have two other SSS Elite Strats, they work better for me. I will be honest and say the only reason I bought it was for the top. :)

It feels unbalanced to me with the humbucker and the two single coils. Although....if you depress the S1 switch with the pickup switch in position 4, it gives you the neck and middle pickups in series, which has its similarities to a 2 humbucker guitar in that mode.

The Passing Lane switch for me is worthless and I don't use it.

Maybe a loaded pickguard with SSS Gen4’s or even Fat 50’s is the best route, then keep the stock guard for swapback or resale?
 

The Birdman

Strat-Talker
Apr 8, 2007
168
Dee-Troit Blues City
Maybe a loaded pickguard with SSS Gen4’s or even Fat 50’s is the best route, then keep the stock guard for swapback or resale?
I actually have a loaded SSS pickguard with N3 pickups that I purchased with the thought of replacing the HSS setup, but I've not gotten to doing it. This is actually the only HSS guitar I own, and feel that it might prove to be useful at some point. Plus, it would make the guitar non-original.
 


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