Review: Fender American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Review: Fender American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster

Fender American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster
Words by Adam Buttigieg

Fender Music Australia | Price: $3,999

The last decade has seen an enormous surge in the appreciation of vintage electric guitars. Particularly those manufactured by Fender during their “golden era” between 1950 and 1965. These 15 years saw a huge shift within the world of pop and rock music, whose sound is still greatly echoed in the modern music of today.

A large part of this is thanks to Fender, whose renowned electric guitars were so widely used within the most popular music of the day. So, it is no surprise then to see Fender reissuing modern takes of these “golden era” guitars.

Read more gear reviews here.

The 1957 Fender Stratocaster is especially recognised by guitar enthusiasts as one of the best guitars ever made. By 1957, Fender had mastered the art of guitar manufacturing, as this was three years after the model was introduced. All the small aspects of the instrument were refined to create a perfect storm of sonic sweetness. Things such as the “V”-shaped neck and burnt amber finish had guitar players on the hook, and the craftsmanship of those working in Fenders’ Californian Factory was at an all time high as employees took great pride in their work.

Fender has released a multitude of ‘50s and ‘60s reissues and vintage-inspired models in the last few years and the American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster is one of them. Whether it’s the nostalgic sentiment for these instruments from musicians of old or the unwavering desire from younger players to feel what a 1957 Stratocaster felt like, something is for certain: Fender has brought out a beautiful dedication to its original predecessor.

Just like the revered craftsmanship of the original 1957 guitar, the American Vintage II Stratocaster is built seemingly flawlessly. The guitar is heavily crafted to the specifications of the original 1957 Stratocaster; with the body’s famous curves identical to that of the day. By 1957, the curves of the Fender Stratocaster were known to be at their peak and it is evident in this model and most definitely catches the eye.

The famous 1957 “V”-Shaped neck profile has also been replicated meticulously. It is a relatively thick neck but fits beautifully in the palm of your hand. It is comfortable to play whether you like your thumb behind the neck or over the top. Eric Clapton has stated that he has a love for the 1957 “V”-shaped neck and it is easy to see why. Its playability and comfort is evident upon first picking it up and striking your first few chords or bending some notes. 

The American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster comes in three stunning finishes; the classic 2-Colour Sunburst and Seafoam Green, both of which have alder bodies, as well as Vintage Blond with an ash body, with the unique flowing grain of ash evident behind the Vintage Blond nitrocellulose lacquer finish. The vintage-style tuners are an identical replica to the Kluson Deluxe tuners Fender used in 1957, just with Fender’s name on them. The control knobs are an aged-white colour with gold control labels that sit upon a simple white one-ply pickguard. The guitar comes loaded with three of Fender’s own Pure Vintage ’57 Single-Coil Strat pickups, and a Pure Vintage Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles and a chrome bridge cover.

Simply said, the American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster plays and sounds as good as it looks. The tone that emits from this guitar when plugged into a tube-style amp is one that guitarists the world over simply adore. In the bridge position, the sound is warm and well rounded, yet bold and wide in nature. Chords swell and the notes sustain beautifully, especially with a touch of reverb. The neck pickup is bold and pleasant on the ears on its own. On the opposite end, the bridge pickup soars and really pierces through with its mid and high range. The bridge pickup also sounds very wide and open, and feels as though every note can be heard with intent and clarity. There is a classic Fender rattle when playing with some force, which some players don’t like, but is equally adored by many others. This can be adjusted however with relative ease.

Fender American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster

The middle pickup is more rounded in comparison to the bridge pickup and not as spanky as the bridge pickup, but still retains that same dynamic grit. Those used to humbuckers or not familiar with the Stratocaster’s single coil pickups may not be used to the treble-y nature of the instrument, however this can be advantageous in genres such as blues, rock, funk, and country. 

Overall, the Pure Vintage ’57 Single-Coil Strat pickups respond well to dynamic playing, with softly picked notes sounding sweet and subtle with harder playing having its own grit and natural break up.

It is with little surprise that Fender has delved into the vintage reissue guitar market with many of their models in the last few years. The nostalgia-driven demand for vintage-style instruments from old players combined with the new found appreciation among the younger generation has driven Fender to meet guitarist’s desires worldwide. The Fender American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster is a true recreation of the original, with all the perks of modern playability. It is the closest thing to an original 1957 Stratocaster as you can get, with its feel and sound designed to be like its famous predecessor.

Head to Fender for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Fender Music Australia.