Review: Fender Player Plus Stratocaster HSS

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Review: Fender Player Plus Stratocaster HSS

Fender Player Plus Stratocaster HSS in 3-colour sunburst
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Fender Player Plus Stratocaster HSS | Fender Australia | RRP: AU$1,749

Fender’s Player Plus series is one of the biggest announcements of the year. With a huge campaign featuring some of the biggest up-and-coming names in rock, funk and pop, the Fender Player Plus Stratocaster and the series of electric guitars and basses not only re-defines Fender’s most accessible range, but it reminds us what Fender is here to do: listen to artists, revise their own designs, and push players, instruments and the industry forward.

Building on the wildly successful Player Series, which has filled guitar racks, nailed tones on records and fulfilled dreams since 2018, the Player Plus series aims to build on not only the Ensenada factory’s staple, but on Californian made guitars such as the American Professional and American Ultra series that have reigned supreme over the last few years.

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The Player Plus Series as a whole features new Telecasters, Jazz and Precision Basses and Stratocasters, available in a wild array of colours and finishes from the eclectic Belair Blue and Tequila Sunrise to the classic 3-Tone Sunburst reviewed here. This Strat features a maple neck and fretboard, vintage styled mint pickguard and Player Plus Humbucking pickup in the bridge, with poles styled similarly to Fender’s famed wide range humbucking pickup.

Wide Range Humbucker

A humbucker in a Strat is an increasingly common occurrence, but they’re not always as highly spec’d as the Player Plus Humbucking that is featured on a few different models across the Player Plus range. The combination of Player Plus Noiseless single coils in the neck and middle position with a humbucker in the bridge, make for a wide range of available tones, and a guitar more tuned for modern rock with the ‘oomph’ that just can’t be mustered from a single coil in the bridge position.

Straight out of the included deluxe gig bag, the Player Plus Stratocaster HSS was set up well, featuring a comfortable Modern “C” neck shape and 12” radius across the 22 medium jumbo frets. The finishing on the frets themselves makes for an easy play, and the satin urethane neck that is borrowed from Fender’s American ranges serves as a comfortable and modern feeling neck. The maple of the neck itself is dark and suits the vintage finish, making for a cohesive look for a guitar with a lot of modern additions under the hood.

While the mint guard and wide range humbucking make for that traditional vintage look, the addition of a push/pull tone pot to split the coils of the humbucker make for a more modern wiring, ironically to offer a more traditional single coil Strat tone from the bridge; a vintage but modern design that helps push Fender’s design focus forward. What’s more, the Player Plus Series as a whole takes everything we love about the Player Series and adds to it.

Player Plus

Starting at the headstock, the Player Plus guitars generally feature locking tuners across the board, a subtle but welcome addition to retain classic looks, but with modern tuning stability for all players. The Fender spaghetti style logo on the headstock is printed in metallic foil, a tip of the hat to the classy design of the American Ultra ranges. While those models that include humbuckers can buck that 60-cycle hum just fine, the addition of Player Plus Noiseless pickups found throughout the Player Plus instruments is another welcome addition.

While not being strictly humbuckers, Noiseless pickups assist to make noisy single coils quieter without sacrificing the tone of single coil pickups. The Modern “C” neck shape is common across many ranges of Fenders, but nestles nicely between thicker “U” shaped and super modern super-Strat style neck shapes. The Player Plus includes a deluxe gig bag and accessories to set-up your new Strat to your exacting specs.

Head to toe, the Player Plus Stratocaster HSS is a solid-bodied electric with a 25.5” scale length and 12” fretboard radius. Two Player Plus Noiseless single coil pickups handle neck and middle position duties, while a Player Plus Humbucking defines your bridge position. These are all controlled by a 5-Position blade and a push/pull Tone pot. Deluxe sealed locking tuners and 2-Point Tremolo with individual saddles handle tuning stability at their respective ends of the guitar, while the bolt-on neck design and alder body/gloss polyester body combo offer just enough resonance.

The Player Plus Stratocaster HSS is just one example of the forward-thinking design, build and construction that Fender has prided themselves on re-defining for over 70 years. What Fender also aims to do is offer their most forward thinking designs at every price point. The Player Plus definitely sits itself in mid-tier pricing, but doesn’t lack in specifications, build quality or modern design. If you’ve been watching Fender for the last few years, the Player Plus Series is the amalgamation of all of it, and at an unbelievable price.

Fender have melded their forward thinking and modern electronics with classically-styled good looks and tried & true pickups, neck shape and pickup switching. The Player Plus is simultaneously classic and traditional but entirely versatile and modern in one fell swoop. Your new guitar will arrive well set-up out of the factory and arrive safe in a new bag, and will inspire everything you want in a Fender, but also everything you didn’t know you needed.

Head to Fender’s website for more information on the Player Plus Stratocaster HSS.