This is a guest post by Stephen Rose
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster — an iconic instrument in not only shape but also sound. Countless recordings tell the tale of this classic guitar played only by the most discerning musicians. The Fender Stratocaster was released in 1954 offering players a solid contour body guitar with three single coil pickups. This innovation took the world by storm and generations of players are still looking for its classic and timeless tones.
Fender has released 3 models celebrating the 60th anniversary Stratocaster: Classic Player, American Commemorative, and American Vintage. The Classic Player Strat comes in Desert Sand, has a soft V neck shape, gold anodized pickguard, gold hardware, a special engraved neckplate, and medallion on the back of the headstock. The American Commemorative and American Vintage series guitars are both U.S. made and have similar appointments to the Classic Player Strat. The American Commemorative Strat comes with a two color ash body, maple neck, modern C compound radius neck, specially designed 1954 pickups, gold hardware, pearloid tuning buttons, and the same neckplate and medallion as the Classic Player. The American Vintage series is the most accurate representation of a 1954 Strat you can buy without going through the Custom Shop. This guitar recreates the specs and even the paperwork of the instrument as if it were purchased in 1954. Fender will only be making 1,954 of these guitars, with the first 54 of these containing a special certificate and designation on the neckplate. The American Vintage Strat is far and away the crown jewel of the three 60th anniversary guitars being offered. In keeping with the original design, I wish this guitar came standard with the 3-position switch instead of the traditional 5. The 3-position switch is included should the player want to make the swap.
In keeping with Fender’s motto to create a guitar, “as new and different as tomorrow,” they have released the Fender American Deluxe Plus Stratocaster. Fender is known for finding ways of balancing its tradition and history with innovation, and this new addition is the epitome of that way of thinking. The American Deluxe Plus comes in both SSS and HSS configurations offering the player the ability to use interchangeable “personality cards” to further add to the tonal options of this fine instrument.
There is a slot in the back of the guitar that can support one of three solder-less cards with plug and play capability. Standard is the standard configuration and pickup sound, Cutter cuts the bass and treble, and Splitter splits the humbucker sound of the pickups. This is a highly innovative design by Fender and comes with some updated colors new to the American Deluxe series: Mystic 3 color sunburst, Mystic Ice Blue, and Mystic Black. These guitar feature Noiseless pickups, a modern C compound radius neck, a wallet for the personality cards, and a maple or rosewood neck depending on the version.
Fender has found a way to capture its timeless tone and history with their anniversary models, while pushing the envelope of innovation with its American Deluxe Plus guitar. They have now opened the door to numerous tonal possibilities with the advent of the personality cards, which afford players the ability to save time and the hassle of soldering, while expanding their ever-changing tonal palette.