FENDER AMERICAN STANDARD STRATOCASTER WITH ROSEWOOD FINGERBOARD
This is a superior sounding guitar.
The Bottom Line:
This is one of the best versions of the Stratocaster that Fender has ever produced.
FENDER AMERICAN STANDARD STRATOCASTER WITH ROSEWOOD FINGERBOARD
There is probably no more recognizable body shape for an electric guitar than the iconic Fender Stratocaster. I have owned a Fender American Standard Stratocaster with a Rosewood Fingerboard for a number of years, and I am very happy with it. However, Fender has made some significant upgrades and improvements to the new Fender American Standard Stratocaster which make it even more desirable to a person such as myself. Read on and see if you feel like the new Fender American Standard Stratocaster with a Rosewood Fingerboard sounds like a guitar that you would like to audition the next time you are visiting your local musical instrument store.
I should start off by mentioning that I did a side by side comparison of a Fender American Standard Stratocaster with an Alder Body and a Rosewood Fingerboard and a Fender American Standard Stratocaster with an Ash Body and a Maple Fingerboard. Although these guitars are both American Standard Stratocasters, these guitars sound very different, and this is attributable to the different construction materials that are used between the two different guitars. I would recommend that any potential buyer do a side by side comparison of these two different types of Fender American Standard Stratocaster before making a decision to purchase one over the other because the difference in sound is quite significant, at least to my ear. I shall in this review limit myself to a discussion of the Fender American Standard Stratocaster with an Alder body and a Rosewood fingerboard. The guitar that I was playing had a 3-Color Sunburst Finish. While most of the line of Fender American Standard Stratocasters have a list price of $1299.99 and sell for a discounted price of about $999.99, the 3-Color Sunburst model I was playing sports a list price of $1399.99, and it sells for a discounted price of $1049.99.
The Fender Stratocaster has been around for a very long time, and it is probably older than most of the people who are reading this review, as it debuted in 1954. The earliest Stratocasters were made with an Ash body, but Fender switched over to using Alder sometime in 1956. Over the years Fender has also made some Stratocasters with body woods that were Poplar, Koa, Basswood, and even Mahogany. Using different tonewoods for the same model guitar will result in a different sounding guitar even if all of the other components that make up the guitar are the same. The Fender American Standard Stratocaster that I am reviewing today has an Alder body. Alder is a wood that has tight pores, hard rings, and a somewhat rigid or stiff texture. The result is that a guitar with an Alder body has accentuated lows, especially as compared to a Stratocaster made with a Basswood body. In addition to a good tight low end, Alder also has good highs and it is especially resonant in the lower midrange, and has a reasonably good sustain, and it yields a full sound across the entire tonal spectrum of an electric guitar. It has a bit less bite and lesser accentuation of the highs than does a Stratocaster with an Ash body. The undercoating on this guitar is also thinner, which results in greater resonance of the body.
The neck on the Fender American Stratocaster is made of hard Maple, and this model has a fingerboard that is made of Rosewood. Maple is a good choice for the neck of a guitar because it is a very strong hard wood, and it can deal well with the tension that a set of guitar strings puts on it. Maple also gives a guitar a bright and crisp tone and is excellent for transmitting the energy of vibrating strings to the rest of the guitar. Maple has a tight low end, a strong upper midrange, and very bright and precise highs. A Rosewood fingerboard is also an important contributor to the overall sound of this guitar. A Maple fingerboard on a Stratocaster will yield a very bright sound, which some players do not like because they feel that it is too "thin." A Rosewood fingerboard on the other hand is much richer and warmer in sound. Rosewood is a very heavy wood, that is rich in natural oils, and it has excellent sustain. It adds a complexity to the low end, and has very strong mids. This serves to enrich and darken the tone, while still adding a bit of sparkle to the top. I hope that after reading about the way different tone woods can affect the sound of a guitar, that the reader will get a bit of a flavor for the sound of this particular guitar, and it will assist in the decision making process which it comes to making a potential purchase.
While we are on the subject of the neck of the Fender American Standard Stratocaster, I should like to elaborate a bit further. The neck has 22 Medium Jumbo frets, and there is no problem playing even the very highest notes on the neck due to the very generous Stratocaster double cutaway. The neck has a satin finish on the back and a buffed finger board. In doing a side by side comparison with an American Standard Stratocaster with a Maple neck which has a gloss finish on the front, I can safely vouch that the Rosewood fingerboard is easier to play on and easier to dig into when bending notes.
The bridge on the new Fender American Standard Stratocaster has a higher mass and is made of steel which Fender refers to as being a "tone fusion" design. The steel saddles that the strings sit on have a longer area for the strings to rest on. This means less tension on the part of the string that rests on the saddle, which also means less likelihood of string breakage during frantic episodes of string bending during a solo. The design of the saddles, in conjunction with the higher mass bridge, means that more of the energy of the vibrating strings is transferred to the body of the guitar, and the sustain is also improved as a result.
The electronics on any guitar are obviously a very important factor in defining the tone and the overall sound of an instrument, and the new Fender American Series Stratocaster is no exception. The Fender American Standard Stratocaster has 3 hot single coil pickups. I emphasize that these pickups really are quite powerful, and they were able to beautifully overdrive the Fender Deluxe Reverb I was playing without the necessity of any overdrive pedal or the like. This guitar also has what Fender refers to as a Delta-tone no load circuit. As part of the Delta-tone system, the bridge pickup has a very high output and a special no-load tone control for the middle and bridge pickups. O.K., so what does this mean? When the tone control is being turned up, there is a detent right before reaching 10. When the tone control is clicked to 10, it is as if the tone control was cut completely out of the circuit, and it bypasses any filtration, so all that is being heard is the natural tone of the pickup. This results in a very wicked and biting tone, especially for the bridge pickup.
O.K., so how does the Fender American Standard Stratocaster with an Alder Body and Rosewood Fingerboard sound? It sounds simply great. It has a bit more warmth to the overall sound than does a similar model with a Maple Fingerboard and an Ash body, and I definitely felt that the Rosewood neck was quicker, easier to play on, and was much more amenable to a style of playing that emphasized string bending during solos. The sustain on this guitar was also remarkable. I have a 10 year old Stratocaster now with a Rosewood neck, and I like this new American Standard Stratocaster so much that I am seriously considering trading it in and getting this new American Standard Stratocaster with a Rosewood Fingerboard. That says a lot.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will please excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.