How do you improve on a seemingly perfect design? As long as you don’t mind seamlessly combining Fender’s deep history of strikingly iconic aesthetic with an aspiration to be the most forward moving music company on the planet, the new American Professional II Strats may do exactly that.
Leo Fender built the company on the back of listening to musicians and addressing their needs, and the American Professional II Series continues that trend. These Strats, the standard triple single-coil model and the HSS variant with a Vintage Mod II Double Tap Humbucker in the bridge, reflect Fender’s classic designs, contours and playability as well as their more recent, forward thinking ranges and designs.
The guitars feature a long list of somewhat standard and expected Fender specs, coupled with a list of modern changes to refine these Strats into some of the best playing guitars on the market, and for a very reasonable price for their build quality, electronics and forward thinking design. The American Professional are a top-tier range, designed for working musicians, but the American Professional II Series is giving those workers a promotion.
The first notable improvement from the original American Professional series is the “Super Natural” satin finish on the reverse of the neck, while the headstock retains that classic Fender look with a gloss urethane finish. The neck shape is a Deep “C”, which feels simultaneously slim enough for more contemporary players, but also comfortable for players more accustomed to classic or vintage Fender neck shapes. The “Super Natural” satin finish allows gliding around the 22 narrow-tall frets a dream, and the frets feel particularly good for bending leads and fretting big chords.
While being a fairly standard 25.5” scale length, the tension feels particularly good on these new Strats, partly thanks to the bone nut at one end and the two-point synchronised tremolo at the other. The new Vintage Mod II pickups are as chimey as you could want them to be, while also offering the refined and dynamic spank from Position 2 on the 5-Position blade that we’re all really after.
The new American Professional II Strats are alder-bodied, except for the Roasted Pine variant, and depending on your choice of colour, are available with Rosewood or Maple fretboards. The guitars are finished in gloss urethane which feels high-end and solid while allowing the wood to breathe and resonate. They’re weighted similarly to standard Strats, and feature a rounded heel at the neck joint for better access, as introduced in the American Elite, refined in American Ultra and now featured in the American Professional II range.
Both Strats feature a pushable tone knob for a high end roll off that really opens up more tone options than you have with familiar Strat wiring. The tone is pushed further by the cold-rolled steel block that anchors the tremolo which helps with sustain and the bright, bell-like chime that Strats are known for.
The American Professional II series overall is maybe their most on-brand move to date; continuous improvement melded with classic design and aesthetic. The American Professional series was a stellar success, but not content with simply that, the “II” series takes Fender’s success and has created an even more refined range of instruments with improved pickups and electronics, masterful designs and fantastic build quality. A comfortable neck shape finished in satin urethane, as well as well-finished frets, comfortable string tension and a well-balanced, designed and refined bridge for an amazing playing experience.
The American Professional II series overall is everything you’re used to, they’re the reason we come back to Fender, but they’re also pushing their own designs further so we can push our playing further. Take a note out of Fender’s playbook and push your own envelope.
Hits and Misses
Familiar Strat specifications with modern appointments
“Super Natural” finish feels great
Vibrant finishes might be a tad too much for some players