Being a guitarist in a live band, I’m constantly asked “What guitar do you play?”. The truth is I have a modest guitar collection of about 12 guitars so I play a lot of different guitars. But there is one particular model that stands out above the rest. That is my beloved Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. I actually have two American Deluxe Strats and A Jeff Beck Signature Strat that is very similar to an American Deluxe Stratocaster. The two I’d like to talk about today are my 2004 50th Anniversary American Deluxe Stratocaster and my 2005 American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster. They are both very similar to each other and incredible guitars.
I got the 50th Anniversary American Deluxe Stratocaster when it was released in 2004 because I had always wanted a collectible guitar and I love the Stratocaster. My Jeff Beck Signature Strat had been serving me well for about 9 years and I was looking for another good guitar. The reason I got the American Deluxe version rather than the American Standard version was because I absolutely love the feature set that is on the American Deluxe Stratocaster.
I am not a traditionalist when it comes to electric guitars. I love cutting edge innovations and the 2004 and beyond versions of the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster are loaded with Fenders latest Strat innovations. The most notable being the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless (SCN) pickup and the S-1 pickup switching system. I ended up buying the 2005 American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster to use as my main stage guitar since I fell so in love with playing the 50thAnniversary Strat but didn’t want to wear the anniversary Strat out using it onstage.
I play a lot of high gain sounds with both of my bands and having a noiseless pickup is crucial to having an enjoyable live sound. I have other guitars with traditional single coil pickups in them and they are very good for certain situations but not as an all-around stage guitar primarily because of the nasty hum that comes with them. I wanted my American Deluxe to be my main onstage guitar so the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups really fit the bill. Do they sound like a traditional single coil pickup? I would say they sound similar to a traditional single coil but they are not identical sounding. I still get that famous Stratocaster twang out of them when I want it because the American Deluxe Strats have a no-load tone control on the bridge pickup. What this does is allow you to switch off the tone control and have a direct wired pickup-to-output sound from the guitar. It’s extremely bright and that’s the closest I can get to actual traditional single coil sound. The SCN pickups in general have a slightly darker sound than traditional singles but I like the way they sound and I love the uniqueness of the sound. I definitely don’t want to sound like everyone else and the SCN pickups really help me in that area. As for their ability to cancel hum, they’re just as quiet as the humbuckers on my Gibson Les Paul Custom. Fantastically quiet for a single coil pickup and they still have a ton of output.
The second huge advantage of the American Deluxe Stratocaster is the revolutionary S-1 switching system. This is a simple push button in the middle of the master volume knob that when pressed gives you several different pickup combinations as well as new serial and parallel pickup wiring options. The S-1 switching system is used together with the traditional 5-way pickup selector that has been used on the Strat for years now. The tonal options that this switching system opens up is unprecedented on a factory produced guitar. Strat modifiers have been doing this sort of thing for years but now you can get it straight from Fender with full warranty support. I use every pickup combination over the course of a 4-hour gig. The tonal variations are pronounced and very useful. The sounds can be similar to a humbucker or single coil but in the end, they are unique to this guitar. I personally love the fact that the instrument is breaking new ground in the tone department. With the SCN pickups and the S-1 Switching sytem I can get pretty much any sound I want. When I use these guitars with my Fender Cyber-Twin SE amplifier the sounds I can produce are virtually unlimited.
There are several other features I love about the American Deluxe Stratocaster. I love the rolled edges and glassy smooth fretwork on the edges of the neck. My fingers never get sore from bumping up and down the edges of the neck. On my 50th Anniversary Strat I have the C-Shaped neck and on my American Deluxe Ash StratI have the V-Shaped neck. I personally prefer the feel of the C-Shaped neck but there really isn’t a ton of difference between the two. They both fit the hand very well and each have the rolled edges and super-smooth fretwork. I also love the new contoured heel where the neck joins the guitar body. It fits the palm of my hand extremely well when I’m playing on the upper frets.
Another thing I really love about the American Deluxe is the two-point synchronized tremolo. This tremolo works very well and combined with the staggered, locking tuners the guitar stays in tune amazingly well. The staggered tuners make it possible to use only one string-tree and that reduces string drag. The locking tuners make changing the strings on the Strat a breeze so I change them more often than I do on my double-locking tremelo guitars. Another thing about the bridge which is a big advantage over the American Standard is the fact that the American Deluxe uses solid steel bridge pieces under the strings. I much prefer these bridge pieces to the American Standards bent steel plates it uses for bridge pieces. I always use Big Bends Nut Sauce guitar lubricant in the string slots, on the string tree, on the bridge pieces and the two pivot points of the tremelo and my guitar never goes out of tune unless I really abuse it.
As I mentioned before, I have the 50th Anniversary American Deluxe Stratocaster and the American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster. The only differences between these two guitars is the body wood and the shape of the neck. The 50th Anniversary Strat has an Alder body which is the most common wood for a Stratocaster. The Ash Strat has a a body made of Ash wood. I can’t hear a huge tonal difference between the two. Some people say that Ash gives you a brighter sound but I personally can’t tell. The biggest difference between the two is the visual aspect of the wood grain itself. The Ash Strat has a much more prominent and varied wood grain than the Alder Strat. I love the look of the ash wood grain. My Cherry Sunburst is semi-transparent so you can see this beautiful ash wood grain. I love to look at the guitar and recommend Ash simply for the visual aspect. Both of the guitars look incredible with the 50th Anniversary Strat having the gold hardware and the Ash Strat having the beautiful wood grain.
You really can’t go wrong owning the Fender American Delxue Stratocatster. It’s the top of the Stratocaster model lineup for good reason. It really is the best and I wouldn’t change a thing about mine. If I could choose only one guitar to have, it would be the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster especially when teamed up with my Fender Cyber-Twin SE amplifier. Make sure you check out my post of Carl Verhheyen discussing the Fender Stratocaster.
[phpbay]American Deluxe Stratocaster, 10[/phpbay]