Replacing the high-end models of their American Elite series from 2016 (RIP), the American Ultra series sees Fender eschew the vintage mould to offer designs which reflect the wants and needs of the contemporary guitarist. Justin Norvell, Fender’s Executive Vice-President of Product, celebrated the new series in a statement released today – “The American Ultra Series is our most advanced series of guitars and basses for discerning players who demand the ultimate playing experience in precision, performance and tone. Blending state-of-the-art engineering and nuanced design to provide a high-performance experience for today’s player, American Ultra is the next chapter in Fender’s legacy of cutting-edge innovation. American Ultra has truly been decades in the making and is a result of our tireless commitment to meet the needs of today’s working and touring guitar players looking for a modern feel and tone.”
These new models include tweaks to bolster both their performance and playability in the studio and onstage, including satin-smoothed necks with new D neck profiles and compound radius fretboards, sculpted four-bolt necks, noiseless pickups and treble-bleed circuits. Other notable modifications include updated body contours, side-mounted input jacks and a new position for the truss rod, which is now at the back of the headstock – it’s the little things that matter. Without much further ado, let’s dive on into the new series.
First up, there’s the American Ultra Stratocaster, combining all the best aspects of the Stratocaster design with Fender’s new modern appointments. The most notable change here is the new compound radius 10-14″ fretboard and Modern D neck profile, as well as the ‘Ultra Satin’ finish on the neck for a slick playing experience. There’s also options to choose between an ash or alder body and a maple or rosewood fretboard, and all models feature new locking tuners, a bone nut and an updated foil Fender headstock logo.
In the pickups department, the American Ultra Stratocaster features three Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat pickups with a five-way selector switch and S-1 switching on the master volume to combine pickups for enhanced tone voicings. There’s also a wide range of new finishes to explore here, including Aged Natural and Plasma Red Burst for the ash models and Ultraburst, Arctic Pearl, Mocha Burst, Texas Tea and Cobra Blue finishes for those who are sticking with alder. The American Ultra Stratocaster is also available in a HSS model with a new Double Tap humbucker in the bridge position.
The new American Ultra Telecaster features similar appointments to the aforementioned Stratocaster, with Ultra Noiseless Vintage pickups with S-1 switching, a six-saddle bridge similar to the American Elite series and updated body contours, which we’re sure will make a lot of Tele players very, very happy. Like the Stratocaster, the American Ultra Telecaster is available in a range of finishes, wood types and pickguard colours (one-play black, three-ply mint, three-play white, three-ply white pearl and silver anodized) – so much variety!
For those who like it jazzy – or not so jazzy in this case – the American Ultra Jazzmaster puts an incredibly modern spin on the offset classic, adding radical contours and electronics to appeal to modern musicians. The guitar’s infamous switching system is complemented with S-1 Switching on the master volume knob for series/parallel functionality, as well as two tone pots for bridge and neck pickups. Like other American Ultra models, this one’s available with both ash or alder bodies and maple or rosewood fingerboards, with finishes including Cobra Blue, Ultraburst, Plasma Red Burst or Mocha Burst.
In the bass department, the American Ultra Series is comprised of three models: the Precision Bass, Jazz Bass and Jazz Bass V. The American Ultra Precision Bass is fitted with a Modern D neck profile and features brand new lightweight vintage tuners, as well as new body contours, a satin neck finish and a high-gloss headstock. These new basses feature a newly designed HiMass bridge to assist in tuning stability and sustain, which is a bit of a god-send given the amount of bassists who tend to switch their bridge out for aftermarket parts. For pickups, you’ll find a split-coil Ultra P Bass pickup in the middle position and an Ultra Jazz in the bridge, which can be tweaked via an active/passive preamp with a three-band EQ. There’s also a choice of four finish types depending on what body wood you choose: Arctic Pearl and Mocha Burst finishes for the alder models and Aged Natural and Plasma Red Burst finishes for ash players.
Finally, there’s the two Jazz Basses, which both feature similar neck profiles, body contours and hardware updates to the P-Bass mentioned above. These new American Ultra models also boast block fretboard inlays, which are either white or black pearloid depending on whether you’ve got a rosewood or maple fretboard. What’s really exciting here, however, is how sophisticated these new electronics are: in addition to the Ultra Noiseless Vintage Jazz Bass pickups, you’ve got a master volume, pan pot to select pickups, three-band boost/cut EQ and a toggle-switch to flick between active and passive circuits.
The four string American Ultra Jazz Bass shares the same wood and finish combinations as the P-Bass, while the five-string model boasts Mocha Burst, Ultraburst, Aged Natural, Plasma Red Burst and Arctic Pearl colours.
Head to the Fender website to find out more about the series today.