The new American Deluxe Strat Plus guitar purports to be the next step in the evolution of the Stratocaster, aiming to provide three Stratocaster guitars in one with a design featuring interchangeable ‘personality cards’ that provide players with altered pickup and circuitry configurations.
The guitar itself features a maple neck with comfortable profile and satin finish, maple fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets, and three single-coil N3 pickups with five-way switching. The hardware also includes aged white control knobs, two-point synchronized tremolo bridge with bent steel saddles, staggered deluxe locking tuners and nickel-chrome hardware. The guitar is exceptionally finished. The neck is comfortable to address, the tuning spot on and the overall tone is crisp and responsive.
The additional technological advancement built in to this guitar is certainly interesting: the personality cards can be inserted into a recess at the rear of the body that alter the wiring configuration. Each guitar comes with three cards allowing players to adjust the tone and the way in which the pickups react with each other. The thing is, the cards are very reminiscent of the type of technology that was new in the late seventies or early eighties – very similar in fact to an Atari cartridge – albeit smaller. There’s something about this new addition of technology that seems to immediately date the guitar, making it feel like some long-lost experiment from days gone by rather than the cutting-edge new development intended. I can’t help but think that most guitarists would have a quick play with the cartridges (which do provide very subtle changes to the guitar’s tonality), find their favourite and leave it at that while the other cartridges sit in the included deluxe guitar case, most likely to be promptly forgotten about. However, guitarists that are into modifications in regards to pickups and wiring will most likely place a little more importance on this new feature.
Nevertheless it all ultimately comes down to playability and tone, regardless of trimmings or added technology, and based on those factors alone this series from Fender comes up trumps.
The Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus Stratocaster comes with a deluxe case for $3199.