Familiar styling taken to the next level


TA-ratings-98

The Fender American Performer Stratocaster is the replacement for the Fender American Special. The American Special has been around for awhile, but Fender thought it was time for an update and a better price point for their American made guitar lineup.

The Fender American Performer Stratocaster is just one of the guitars in the American Performer Series of guitars. The model names haven’t changed only the hardware and sound. Models in the American Performer Series include the Jazzmaster, Mustang, Telecaster HMM, Stratocaster, Stratocaster HSS, Mustang Bass, Precision Bass, and Jazzmaster Bass.

Before we jump into the Fender American Performer Stratocaster review, let me make it perfectly clear that I am in no way a professional guitar player. However, I have been playing for over 30-years in bands and on church worship teams. Guitar playing is a hobby that I love, and when Fender asked if I’d be interested in taking this for a spin, well, I wasn’t going to refuse. So let’s get on with the Fender American Performer Stratocaster review.

Specifications

The Fender American Performer Series Stratocaster has the following features and specifications:

  • Alder body
  • Three Yosemite single-coil Stratocaster pickups; RW/RP middle pickup
  • Push-pull pot activates neck pickup; Greasebucket tone circuitry
  • “Modern C”-shaped neck with 9.5”-radius fingerboard; 22 jumbo frets
  • ClassicGear tuning machines; silver ‘70s logo
  • Jumbo frets
  • Satin-finished neck

What’s In The Box

  • Fender American Series Stratocaster
  • Fender soft travel gig bag
  • Tremolo bar
  • Tools
  • Documentation and manuals

Video Review


Guitar category at GuitarCenter.com

Design

What can you say about the design of the Fender American Series Stratocaster? It’s a Stratocaster. That’s it. The same Stratocaster body that we’ve known and loved since 1954. There may have been some subtle changes over the years but mostly the body is the same shape it has always been.

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The new American Performer Series is replacing the American Special Series, and they have six new colors for this relaunch. You can get this guitar in White, Aubergine, Honeyburst, Penny, Satin Surf Green, and Satin Lake Placid Blue. Our Stratocaster came in the Satin Lake Placid Blue which, I admit, I didn’t like the looks of in photos.

That being said, once the guitar arrived and I opened the box, that satin blue really looked amazing. Photos do not do it justice, and I was very pleased with the paint on this guitar. The guitar does come with a soft gig bag but at this price, I wish they would have included a semi-hard shell case.

The newly designed Yosemite pickups are mostly internal changes as the exterior of the pickups are classic Strat-style. The tuning hardware is Kluson-style 18:1 drop-in replacements which give the vintage look with a modern gear ratio.

The pickguard is classic Stratocaster so not much to see there. Overall, this a classic Stratocaster design which should make most people happy while others might have wanted some sort of change. I am on the happy side of the equation.

Fender American Performer Stratocaster

Out of Box Setup

Out of the box the Fender American Performer Series Stratocaster is set up perfectly. At least my review unit was. It was in perfect tune and the action was spot on. I didn’t feel like I would have to take this to a guitar tech to lower the action or perform any major set up to it.

Everything functioned perfectly, no issues with the pots cracking or the jack input cutting out. Overall, this Fender was taken care of and set up properly before it left the factory.

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Sound

In a word, wonderful. The sound is amazing. The new Yosemite pickups combined with the double-tap humbucker feature really deliver an amazing tone.

I had no issues with the pickups or pots on this guitar and everything functioned as it should. Plugged into a pedal board you can really get a lot more tonality out of it and the drive felt good.

Playability is also top notch, it just feels natural and sits natural. As I mentioned earlier, the action was spot on. The neck is silky smooth and the frets feel perfect.

Overall, the sound is clean, warm, and the ability to tap into a humbucker from single coil without losing tonality is really awesome.

Price/Value

Fender is trying to bring the price point of its American made guitars down a bit and the American Performer Series Stratocaster is just over a grand at US$1099.99. That’s really a fair price for what you get here. I compared this with my US$999.99 PRS Custom 24 and it’s right there on par with that.

Wrap Up

If you’re looking to get into an American made guitar without busting your wallet too badly, the Fender American Performer Series Stratocaster is really a great choice.

While you can get other Fender Stratocasters for less, the cheaper Mexican made ones tend to have less attention to detail and the hardware is less reliable. I would highly suggest saving up for this guitar if you’re set on a Stratocaster and don’t settle for the others. While US$1099.99 is not cheap, it is attainable by saving for a few months to a year.

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The Fender American Performer Series Stratocaster is highly recommended for just about anyone.

*We received a review unit of the Fender American Series Stratocaster for the purposes of this review.

Fender American Performer Stratocaster

US$1099.99

Nailed it

  • Classic Strat design
  • Premium materials used throughout
  • Out of the box it was in tune and balanced
  • Build quality was spot on
  • Action was near perfect
  • Sounds amazing with the new Yosemite pickups
  • Double-Tap Humbucker option

Needs work

  • Peeling the plastic off the pickguard is a pain in the butt
  • For the price, they could have include a semi hard shell case and not just a cheap gig bag



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