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Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by aviamsi, Nov 5, 2019.
Seem nice to me. 'Course, I got mine.
And where are the pics?
In the sense I don't need another (Strat):
Nice playing!! and a beautiful Strat indeed.
Thanks ! Here you go .
Very nice. I like the color combo.
Hello Strat Community,
I thought I would share my quest and desire to have a a new #1 gigging Guitar and place my 93 American Strat as a backup. I am sharing the journey I undertook starting with an American Pro and transcending to an Ultra HSS w/Maple Neck in Arctic Pearl and a review of both guitars.
I initially was in search for a primary replacement/backup for my 93 American Standard Strat. I gig in 2 bands in addition to may day job and have recognized that the core tone and sound I have has it's roots in a strat although I do own and play a Gibson LP, Casino, Vairiax and Gretsch and have owned other electrics such as SGs, double necks and other LPs as a reference.
AMERICAN PRO REVIEW:
My first option was the American Pro, the price point and positioning of the guitar is an excellent fit for my intended goal.
Outstanding fit and finish, no imperfections.
Feel/finish: Satin Silky smooth, have an affinity towards maple. Beautifully finished. LOVE the "buttery" feel of the neck..
Carve: Comfortable although a bit more shoulder than I prefer. Coming from a 93 Strat, I always enjoy slimmer necks. Just personal preference. The neck is very functional for me and I enjoyed it, just wish it was a but thinner. I can adapt, I have a 59 style LP neck, JTV-69 unique neck and others. I was seeking a feel ideally more similar to my 91...
Frets: The tall narrow frets for me with over 3 decades of playing had me continuously having to remember to switch my playing style and touch. Not a significant factor and I am sure with time it would get better as it was... I also found myself having to remember to really back off on my touch when sliding up and down the fretboard...again I am sure in time there would be no concerns. I do enjoy the ability to bend so easy with the narrow frets. Between the combo of the neck and frets, it makes sense to have the type of carve, just a recognized adjustment of playing style.
Pickups: The Vintage Mods sound very, very good. Compared to my 91, much lower output so I had to change my patch output(s) and boost dbs a bit. I also noticed that the sweet spot for me was around #7/8 on the volume knob to obtain the breakup and tone for me. I play at the edge of break up with tube amps and hit the amp with gain for overdrive.
Color: Olympic White with Maple Neck - One of my all time favorites, classy, great combo. One of the favorite features about this model for me!
Weight: I only mention this because this strat was about the heaviest I have ever owned.. close to 8.5lbs..very close to my Traditional non weight LP (9lbs). After 3 sets and doing sound for the band also, the extra lb for me is felt and one of the primary reason(s) why the LP has never been my axe all night. Just an interesting observation. I tried an Ash American Pro in SB and loved the almost full lb weight difference. I stayed with the White Olympic SSS as I favored the color over weight..
SUMMARY OF THE AMERICAN PRO:
I wanted to make the right choice as the goal was to have the new Strat become my #1 gigging axe.. Overall I LOVE the American Pro, it's a beautiful upper level Strat from Fender that is a real working "Pro" style guitar. When the Ultra came out, between the neck and jumbo frets which I am much more used to as a player, I ordered one with the notion of possible trading it in for the American Pro....
So, I ordered and received an Ultra Arctic Pearl HSS with Maple FB. Here is my review of the Ultra..
Outstanding fit and finish, no imperfections.
Carve: Once I picked it up, I knew this neck was much better for me vs the American Pro. The shoulder is smaller and the neck is overall thinner. The compound radius of the FB works very well also for chording closer to the nut and speed on the higher frets.
Accessibility: Interesting observation, I never thought that the traditional "style" cuts at the heel got in my way. Now that there is easier access, I am finding that I am starting to explore and use the upper fret areas more now that the slight "wall" has been shortened if that make sense! Cool form form factor with the cuts nonetheless.
Frets: Jumbo frets just work for me..No adjustment or need to remember to adjust my touch. For me this is very welcomed as old habits are hard to break. One could argue that adjusting style and "not" digging too much in the fretboard would be a benefit. I was actually producing sharp notes on the pro, not with the Ultra neck.. No right or wrong here, for me, the Ultra neck jumbo frets combined with neck is a perfect fit with no adjustment of playing style needed.
Neck Tint: Wow, its like it already faded to my 91, very cool! It seems to work with my color combo.. I am Indifferent to having no tint or not as long as it is not to "orangey" for me...
Headstock Logo: The Gold is classy cool, I think having a black outline would have made it stand out more.. seems to get lost in the headstock, beautiful nonetheless.
HSS Arctic Pearl with Maple Neck: This a color to be seen in person, it is amazingly beautiful. I have a fondness for white guitars in general. The HSS versions of strats typically throw me off visually by having the one pu really stand out (not in a good way for me). This color combo with brownish pickguard blends the "darker" coil of the HB and when combined with the Maple neck, I really Love this color combo for the HSS model.
Hot Noiseless SC: I really like the extra db boost very much and it is quite compelling that the pickups seem very similar in dbs to my 93 strat. This works for me very well as I like to get some bottom end "funk" and feel most notably when I am playing rhythm. This is my first guitar with noiseless pickups, I simply love them. Great for venues with some odd power even with the best of my ability to mitigate with power conditioners, etc., these noiseless really come in handy with very little notice to me of tone degradation and with some slight boost of treble. they sound excellent. Yes, I know, once the song starts unless really quiet in some parts, probably don't hear the hum much. Point here for me is that if Fender can produce a quiet pu, with little to no tone loss, I will take it... GREAT job FENDER!!
HSS: WOW! the double tap is amazing. I have had this feature before on an American SG. The big game changer is that there is little to no volume loss when "tapping" and the SC in tap mode sounds REALY good! And with the HB, for me, this could be the best of all words for diversity in terms of the HB and SC fans. I love my Gibson LP and can really tell the tone difference on some songs in the setlist where I need that fat HB sound.. Unfortunately, my fellow bandmates and the audience rarely notices. With the HB in this model, it has such a great fat tone, the LP will stay at home as this now is the most diverse traditional (my Variax is more diverse but in a different category and not traditional as it is a modeling guitar) style electric I own now.
S1 Switch: Simple and functional. I have tried the previous versions and I am a fan that simpler is better when gigging live. Many times I am also doing sound while playing, singing, and remembering the 35 plus songs in a night, remembering the multiple sounds/patches, etc., reducing complexity is a big plus and I applaud Fender for returning to some basics here.
Weight: 7.7lbs. I feel the difference and although the weights of both the Pro and Ultra vary a bit, this reduction for my current Ultra is both noticeable and very welcomed to me.
ULTRA REVIEW/OVERALL SUMMARY:
I really enjoyed the American Pro and for me, the Ultra is a much better fit in terms of playability for my style and the HSS provides me outstanding diversity and will allow me to take one less guitar to a show now. So for all the American Pro fans out there that are very happy, this review should support what you already know and not is not intended for you to sway away from this model, I have much love the American Pro. For me, I Love the Ultra a bit more, it's just a better fit for me and offers the playability I desire and is one beautiful guitar that seems to be a great blend of modern features while holding true to the core DNA of a Strat. I am typically an SSS strat person and only owned a HSS briefly, it will be interesting to see if there are some new HSS player/owners out there as a result of this model. Thanks Fender for delivering a guitar that has taken the #1 seat, a tall order after 30 years. It seemed that no matter what I purchased and played in the past, American LPs & SGs, Double necks, Gretsch, I always came back to the 93 American Strat until now...this HSS has taken the #1 seat..
I hope this review helps some of you in your decision making.
Agree. The heel wheel eliminates the potential for stripping the head of the truss rod or removing/loosening the neck. It wasn't what I'd call "modern," though. 60s Teisco guitars and other cheapies had a similar heel wheel adjuster. The Fender version was much improved.
I played one recently. I liked the feel of the variable radius neck. Tone was good, but I still love my 04 American Standard and am not willing to part with $2K for a new guitar.
Played an Ultra Strat in mocha burst last week. Much better looking in person than online photos show. Very striking color. The neck is definitely the biggest difference with this guitar. I liked it better than I thought I would. Modern for sure, but very easy to play. The rolled edges feel great. Like the darker tint too. Pickups sounds better than the last generation of noiseless on the Elite. Brighter sounding. I live in a small town and our guitar store has already sold all 4 of the Ultra Strats they got in along with a couple of Teles. The most well known local session guy here just traded a Nash in on an HSS Ultra Strat. I'm going to ask him how he likes it when I get a chance. He's been a full time professional guitarist for 30 years and is an unbelievable musician. If he likes it, that's a pretty big endorsement in my mind. All of my Strats have modern C necks and a 9.5 radius. If I bought another Strat anytime soon, it'd probably be an Ultra. Just to have something different if nothing else.
Thanks for sharing, I am curious to hear the feedback from your friend that is a working pro. I agree with your assessment of the neck coming from a Modern C, seemed to be a much easier transition for me when compared the American Pro.
You could probably say the same about all the people who complained about the robot auto-tuners Gibson added to their guitars a few years ago. I'd think those auto-tuners could actually be useful in some situations. But no, people just don't like new ideas sometimes..
I thought the heel rod adjustment in the Elite looked a little weird, but I could see how it would be easier to adjust the neck rod with that.
I liked the Strat Plus/Ultra in the late 80s - 90s though. If I wanted one of those though, I'd probably buy a used one of those. I liked the Lace Sensors and the roller nut on those too.
I'm often interested in new things and innovations with Strats. I don't really like the "okay boomer" thing that's going around though.. Different people have different ideas; we should respect that other people have ideas that are different from our own.
Talked to my buddy who's a professional session and performing guitarist about the HSS Ultra Strat he recently got. Used it for a couple of recording sessions and live shows. He said he really liked it. The neck was the thing he praised the most. Easy to play and very comfortable. He said the pickups were good but a little fuller sounding since they're hotter than the single coils on the SSS. Not really vintage sounding but he could still get good Strat sounds out of them. Overall he was happy with the guitar and plans to keep using it. So this just reinforces what a lot of people already believed about the Ultra. Great guitar for anyone who plays professionally and needs versatility. Very similar to a Suhr in that regard.
Right, but the phrase is generally used to knock down outdated ideas.
Nosy Neighbor: Don't go out today without a coat, you'll catch a cold!
Teen: OK Boomer
Guy at bar: You can't legalize Pot. Then half of everybody in federal prison would suddenly be out on the streets!!!
Teen: OK Boomer
Thanksgiving Uncle: Why should we lower our coal pollution emissions when other countries are creating all the pollution???
Grad Student: OK Boomer
With the local GC closing it's even further to try new gear for me. Sad.
I played an Ultra Stratocaster yesterday, thought the guitar sounded and played very nice. It'll be awhile before I can afford one, but time does fly at my 'OK Boomer' age ...
The most interesting feature, to me, is the heel joint/cutaway sculpting on the back of the guitar; very ergonomic, and should attract players who've come along playing 'improved' superstrats made by the various boutique outfits.
But more than anything else, the Ultra seems to be Fender's response to the PRS Silver Sky. I think I prefer the Ultra, though; more modern fretboard, and noiseless pickups.
I don't think so. Not at all actually. These are vastly different guitars as you've already indicated. The Silver Sky is, for all intents and purposes, a "vintage-esque" instrument with 7.25" radius, small frets, low output single coil pickups...just with a modern appeal (Tesla paint colors) and certain cosmetic liberties (e.g. vintage locking tuners and the lower bout cutout). The Ultra is definitely modern spec'd with a 10"-14" compound radius, medium jumbo frets, more aggressive cutouts, noiseless pickups that are on the hotter side, etc.
The Ultra is a slightly, and i mean very slightly, modified version of the model it replaced, the Elite, and the Elite was in production prior to the Silver Sky (2016 vs 2018).
I was thinking mainly of the altered body shape, re the heel and cutaways ... the PRS lost me with the single coils and tiny fretboard radius.