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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink American Professional Stratocaster

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Please forgive me if this has been covered in another thread. I searched for a review of this guitar here but couldn't find one so I thought I would share some of my thoughts. Since Fender has discontinued the American Standard, the American Professional is the new "standard" in the American Fender line.

I just picked up a brand new 2017 American Professional Stratocaster in Sonic Grey. The only other Stratocaster that I own is a 2012 American Standard with the Fat 50s pickups so this review will be a comparison of these two models.

I decided to go with a Rosewood fingerboard because I had read a review that the V-Mod pickups are really hot. The Professional comes with three Tim Shaw-designed V-Mod single-coil pickups. Each pickup is "voiced" in accordance with it's position on the body. So far, I am really digging these pickups. They do seem hotter than the Fat 50s. It seems like I have a lot more versatility in tone with these pickups. At first I wasn't too sure about these pickups because with the Fat 50s a lot of the time I would just max out the tone knob at 10 and just go. The V-Mod pickups can be almost too harsh and "ice-picky" when maxed out and playing hard. But pulling the tone knob back a quarter turn takes that out and they start to sound more like Fat 50s. Maxed out, they sound great with gentle picking and strumming. But if you are tremelo picking, they get really in your face. (note: when I say ice-picky, I am referring to how people sometimes describe Jazzmaster tone but there may be a better way of describing it.)

All 5 pickup positions sound wonderful on this guitar. Some Strats can sound almost muddy sounding (which some folks might like) when in the neck position. These V-Mod pickups, with their voicing tuned in to their respective position on the guitar, really make each position sound different but really nice. Between the voicing of each pickup and the tone control, I think this may be an even more versatile guitar than the American Standard.

The Professional also has a "Deep C" neck profile. It's contoured to be thinner near the head stock and a more traditional C shape near the body. The difference as you move up and down the neck is very difficult to feel. It's very subtle. It is a nice feeling neck, though. I'm mentioning the neck profile mostly because a lot of the reviews that are out there already kind of make this out to be a big deal. Honestly, if you didn't know about it, I doubt you would detect it just by picking it up and playing it. It's very subtle so this shouldn't be something that affects your decision to try one out one way or the other.

One upgrade that I definitely like is the pop-in tremolo arm. It now pops into the trem like a Jazzmaster or Jaguar tremolo arm. No more little springs to lose.

They now come with a bone nut and a treble bleed circuit in the volume pot. The case is really nice.

I have it set up with flat wound .11s. The play-ability is on par with the American Standard. I'll need to gig with it a few times before I can give an opinion of how well it performs on stage compared to the American Standard.

Overall, I am very happy with this guitar so far. As of right now, the best way I can describe it is that it feels and sounds a lot like an American Standard but with a little more versatility in tone control.


The Out of Limits

Last edited: Oct 11, 2017 11:59:11

Very nice, Kevin! Thanks for the review. That guitar looks blue, not gray in the photo! Still beautiful, though.

I haven't tried one of the Professional series Strats yet, but I did own a Strat with tall/thin frets, and found them difficult to adjust to. I guess that's not an issue for you?

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No, these frets are somewhat similar to the frets on my Hallmark Custom 60. That has been my main surf guitar for the last few months so that's not been a problem. My biggest gripe about the Custom 60 neck is that the strings are closer together than on a Fender/Martin so sometimes fingering certain chords up the neck can be a pain for my sausage fingers.

Another thing I should probably clarify is that I just got this guitar 2 a couple days ago so these are initial impressions. I haven't even had a chance to plug it into my main rig yet (Gomez Surfer and 1x15 tone ring cab with an Eminence Commonwealth). I've been playing it at bedroom levels through a little Blues Jr. I'm fairly confident that some of the "harshness" and "ice-picky" qualities I mention above won't be an issue through my main rig. The Blues Jr, at low level, has a lot of treble and thinness that is probably the main culprit. After I have an opportunity to play it tomorrow night over at our drummer's house, I'll provide a little more feedback.

Another thing, I just put brand new flat wound .11s on it. Round wounds tend to sound better when new and lose some of their luster as they age. I find that flat wounds sound better and open up the more you play them. So some of the "harshness" of the treble on the dimed out bridge pickup is probably due to the strings in combination with the small amp at low levels.

It's definitely hotter and has more high end treble than my American Standard, though, even on the Blues Jr. A quarter turn on the tone knob makes it sound a lot like the Fat 50s, though.

And yes, even in person, it definitely has a bluish quality to the color. I dig it.

The Out of Limits

Last edited: Oct 12, 2017 08:33:35

I played this guitar last night at practice. Compared to my other guitars that I've played with The Out of Limits (American Standard Strat, AVRI 65 Jazzmaster, Hallmark Custom 60), this guitar has the hottest pickups. They are very clean and transparent. They are bright, but that "ice-picky" quality I described above was not there when I played through the Gomez Surfer. I think that was more of an issue of new strings and the small amp at low levels.

The other guitarist in my band said that this is the cleanest sounding guitar that I have ever played. He really seemed to like it. I certainly didn't have any problem cutting through the mix when I played leads. It's also the most versatile guitar of the four I have played with The Out of Limits.

Overall, I think this is a great guitar. It feels great to play and it sounds really good. The pickups are really hot but not noisy. It plays well with pedals. The guitar can still cut through the mix even with a lot of fuzz or distortion.

The Out of Limits are not a traditional sounding surf band, so I will let others make the call on whether or not they think this guitar is a surfer (but it's a Strat so of course it will). It gives me everything I want for what we do, though. I am very happy with this purchase.

The Out of Limits

Last edited: Oct 13, 2017 09:24:45

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