Fender American Ultra Stratocaster: In-depth Review

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  November 5, 2022

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Are you looking for a top of the line Stratocaster? If so, you’ll want to check out the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster.

This guitar is loaded with features that set it apart from the competition.

The American Ultra guitar is designed for profession performance. It has a contoured heel for better access to the upper frets, as well as an ergonomic body shape that makes it more comfortable to play. The S-1 switch gives it a wider tonal range compared to other Fender Strat’s.

This guitar is dubbed as Fender’s most contemporary Strat, and it’s unique because of the S-1 switching system that gives you a wide range of tonal options.

It has a state-of-the-art bridge system. The Ultra Noiseless Vintage pickups provide clear, articulate sound while eliminating unwanted noise.

If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is the guitar for you.

Fender American Ultra Stratocaster buying guide

The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is one of the best premium electric guitars on the market.

A good Stratocaster should have a few key features:

  • Three single-coil pickups or humbucking pickups
  • Five-way pickup selector switch
  • Alder, ash, or basswood body
  • Maple neck
  • Rosewood or maple fretboard
  • C-shaped neck profile (some Fender American models have D-shaped necks) – The American Ultra has this modern D-shaped neck.

Body & tonewood

The American Ultra is made of either an alder or ash body, depending on what you choose.

Alder is an excellent tone wood that has a well-balanced sound. It produces clear highs and warm lows. Overall, the alder provides good resonance.

Ash also has a good balance of highs and lows, but it’s a bit brighter sounding than alder.

The Ultra has a contoured heel and an ergonomic body shape that makes it more comfortable to play.

But what makes it very special is that it has sculpted rear contours. This makes it the most ergonomic Stratocaster ever made, and it’s easier to reach the high frets.

Pickups

This guitar comes equipped with three Ultra Noiseless Vintage Stratocaster pickups.

These are Fender’s quietest pickups yet. They produce clear, articulate sound while eliminating unwanted noise.

The pickups are controlled by a five-way blade switch. This gives you a wide range of tonal options.

The middle position is great for clean tones. The neck and bridge positions are perfect for bluesy or rock tones. And the two outside positions are ideal for high-gain sounds.

Fender’s American Ultra is also available in an HSS version, so you can get the best of both worlds – a bright, snappy single-coil in the middle position and a beefy humbucker in the bridge position.

Bridge

The bridge is a two-point synchronized tremolo with bent steel saddles. This gives you better intonation and sustain.

The tremolo arm also has a locking mechanism that keeps it in place. This is a great feature if you like to use the whammy bar.

The American Ultra also has Fender’s new treble bleed circuit. This keeps your highs from being lost when you turn down the volume.

Neck

The American Ultra differs from the other Fender models, like the Standard Stratocaster, in that it has a D-shaped neck.

The neck is made of maple, and this gives it a bright sound.

The result is a well-rounded sound that can be adjusted with the five-way pickup selector switch.

Fretboard

There are two fretboard wood options for this guitar model: maple and rosewood.

Maple is a bright-sounding wood, while rosewood is darker.

In terms of sound, the rosewood will give you a warmer tone, whereas the maple will provide a brighter sound.

Both woods are excellent choices for the fretboard.

Hardware & tuners

It’s packed with high-end features, including a contoured heel for easy access to the upper frets and an ultra-modern bridge with a pop-in tremolo arm.

The hardware is among the best Fender makes. The locking tuners keep your guitar in tune, even when using the tremolo arm.

Ultra’s pickup covers come in cream pickup covers which looks stylish.

Why the American Ultra is the best premium Strat for professional players

The Ultra is quite a pricey guitar, coming in at about $2,000.

But it’s worth the investment if you’re a professional player who wants the best quality and performance in your Strat.

Why the American Ultra is the best premium Strat for professional players

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The Ultra is designed for players who want the best tone, looks, and comfort. It’s made with high-quality materials and has a modern design that makes it easier to play.

Plus, it comes with a wide range of tonal options thanks to the three Ultra Noiseless Vintage Stratocaster pickups.

Let’s look at the specs first, so you know what to expect.

Specs

  • type: solidbody
  • body wood: alder or ash
  • neck: maple
  • fretboard: maple or rosewood
  • pickups: 3 Ultra Noiseless Single-coil Pickups with S-1 Switch 
  • neck profile: D-shape
  • tremolo

The best features of this guitar are:

  • the top of the line high-quality hardware and components
  • the S-1 switch for a wider range of tonal options
  • the contoured heel for easy access to the upper frets
  • excellent sound and tonal range

The American Ultra Stratocaster has a lot going for it.

Construction and finish

The American Ultra is available in many unique finishes. Texas Tea is probably the most popular because of the all-black body color and gold scratchplate.

Other popular models include the new takes on sunburst, including the Mocha and Plasma burst, which are brown and red versions.

But for those looking for a traditional and classic color, you can go for Arctic Pearl, Cobra Blue, or the retro-inspired tortoiseshell scratchplates of the Ultraburst.

The color designs give the Strat a vintage 1950s vibe, which many players love.

Playability

The contoured heel on the American Ultra makes it extremely comfortable to play. This is the perfect choice for players who love to shred and do advanced soloing.

The neck profile is D-shaped, which provides a fast and smooth playing experience.

The action is low, and the pickups provide a rich, articulate sound with no unwanted noise.

What players really like is the quick access to all the frets. The modern neck profile makes it easy to reach all the notes, even those at the highest end of the fretboard.

Here’s something to note: compared to cheaper Strats, the Ultra has a treble bleed circuit. This helps maintain a constant tone, even if you turn down the volume.

Hardware & pickups

The push button positioned in the center of the volume knob is another minor detail that you should take note of.

This performs the same function as the push-pull tone pot on the American Performer series.

You can get the Ultra in HSS or SSS configuration. The HSS model has an Ultra Noiseless humbucker in the bridge position and a pair of single-coils in the neck and middle positions.

These pickups are our favorite feature of the Ultra, as they offer a rich, saturated tone for rock and blues while the noise reduction keeps things clean.

So, on SSS models, it splits the Double Tap humbucker into single-coil mode, while on HSS variations, it adds the neck pickup to whichever pickup is currently selected.

As a result, you’re able to get Gretsch guitar-style tones. This is great news if you prefer Gretsch’s twangy sound but still want a true Fender Strat.

The Fender Ultra pickup covers are specially designed to reduce hum, so you get rich, clean sounds even when playing plugged in.

They also come in a neutral cream color, which gives the guitar a classic and timeless look.

Locking tuners at the top of the instrument prevent the annoying slippage, which causes the guitar to go out of tune.

Even after using the whammy bar intensely, the Ultra maintains its tuning quite well.

The guitar also has some extra circuitry because the push button is set in the instrument’s volume knob.

This gives you even more control over your tone, allowing you to change between different pickup settings quickly and easily.

Sound

The S-1 switch is the star of the show with this guitar because it adds a lot of tonal options.

The Ultra Noiseless pickups provide an excellent clean sound, but with the S-1 switch engaged, you can unleash a powerful and aggressive tone.

The classic Fender pickups give you a wide range of tonal options, from warm and punchy to bright and cutting.

At the same time, this guitar has excellent sustain and resonance thanks to the solid alder or ash body.

The Ultra is also perfect for lead playing, with great sustain and note definition, even in high-gain settings.

This guitar is excellent for both studio use and gigging. When you have to rock out in a loud venue, there’s no annoying buzzing and hum.

Some people find the sound isn’t soulful enough and prefer something with a bit more warmth.

But if you want a Strat that can handle any style, from rock and blues to pop and funk, the Ultra is an excellent choice.

With these particular pickups, the guitar has better top-end attack compared to the cheaper Fender Stratocasters.

Overall, the sound is clear, with excellent definition and note separation.

Check out the Fender American Ultra here

What others say

These guitars are getting overwhelmingly positive reviews from players.

The Fender quality is truly visible in the construction of the American Ultra Stratocaster. Here’s what a player who has tried most brands has to say on Amazon:

“I’ve owned almost every type/brand/year of guitar you can imagine, from Ibanez, Gibson, PRS, Fender, Schecter, ESP, Jackson, Washburn, Dean, Charvel and more; but if you’re like me, none has ever felt as good in the hands as an American Fender Strat.”

Another players notes that the guitar “is a breeze to play” because of the “tonal quality and ease on the fretboard.”

According to expertreviews.co.uk:

“Fans of Clapton or Knopfler may prefer to seek out a warmer, more soulful variant – or consider switching out the pickups after purchase.”

They say you might be able to get a warmer sound with the Fender Player Stratocaster.

Most reviewers agree that the American Ultra is not a beginner’s guitar because it’s pricey, so it’s best for intermediate and experienced players who know the value of quality and tone.

This is the kind of guitar you can rock out with on stage in front of thousands of fans!

Who is the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster not for?

The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster isn’t for beginners or casual players who are looking for a cheap, entry-level guitar.

This electric guitar is just too good for that!

With its premium features and excellent tone, the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is for serious guitarists who want to rock out with a high-quality instrument.

If you’re looking for a guitar that can handle any style, from rock and blues to pop and funk, in the recording studio as well as on stage, then it’s for you.

If you prefer a soulful Mark Knopfler or Eric Clapton-style sound, you might want to get another guitar, but for other players, the American Ultra Strat is a top choice. So check it out today!

American Ultra vs older American Elite

The new American Ultra is a serious upgrade in terms of quality over the older American Elite guitar.

The Ultra is lighter, with an improved neck design that offers a faster and more comfortable playing experience.

The pickups are also much better, with the Ultra Noiseless humbucker providing a rich, full sound that’s perfect for rock and blues.

The Ultra goes further with a redesigned cutaway body contour at the back in addition to retaining the former Elite series’ curved neckplate that was created to make it simpler to reach the uppermost frets.

The Deep C shape of the American Professional or the Modern C used on the Player and Performer models is considerably different from the Elite’s distinctive Modern D neck profile.

American Ultra vs Fender Player Stratocaster

These two Fender Strats are both great! However, there’s a noticeable tonal difference, and both guitars look a bit different.

The Player has a C-shaped neck whereas the American Ultra has a D-shaped neck, making it easier to play for some players.

In my review of the Fender Player Stratocaster, I discussed that this is a great option if you’re looking for a warm, bluesy sound that’s not too bright. It has a Floyd Rose bridge, so it’s also ideal for rock and heavy metal.

However, if you want a guitar with a more powerful and cutting tone that still has excellent note separation and definition, then the American Ultra is for you.

And finally, I have to mention the considerable price difference between the two guitars.

While the Player Strat is a great option for beginners and casual players, the American Ultra is suited to experienced, dedicated players who are willing to spend the extra buck on a high-quality instrument.

American Ultra vs Fender Professional II Series

The Professional II Series is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable Fender guitar that still offers great tone and quality.

But most players agree the American Ultra just sounds better.

Unlike the Pro II series guitars, the Ultra series guitars include locking tuners and noiseless pickups.

The Ultra Series also has a contoured body, which makes it more comfortable to play and easier to access the upper frets.

In contrast to the American Professional II series instruments, which feature a deep C neck, the Fender American Ultra series instruments have a narrower modern D neck with a flatter fingerboard radius.

So, if you prefer a slim profile and fast action, then the Ultra series is the better option for you.

FAQs

What makes the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster so special?

The American Ultra is a high-quality electric guitar that features premium quality materials and components, including locking tuners and Noiseless humbucker pickups.

The S-1 switch makes it stand out from other Fender Stratocaster electric guitars, giving you a range of tones to choose from and allowing you to create unique sounds for your music.

And finally, the contoured body makes playing the Ultra more comfortable and gives you access to the uppermost frets more easily.

When was the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster first launched?

The American Ultra Stratocaster was first launched in 2018, and it has quickly become one of Fender’s most popular electric guitars.

It was designed to replace the Elite Series guitars, which have been discontinued.

Many musicians and guitar players have praised the superior quality of the American Ultra series and its ability to deliver excellent sound.

Overall, it’s considered one of the best Fender Stratocasters on the market today.

Are there any other Fender electric guitars that compare to the American Ultra?

There are a few other Fender electric guitar models that are similar to the American Ultra, including the Professional II Series, Player Series, and Performer Series.

However, each of these guitars offers its own unique features, tonal qualities, and playing styles.

Ultimately, the best way to choose between them is to try them out for yourself and see which one feels and sounds the best to you.

What’s the difference between the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster and Telecaster?

The main difference between these two models is the pickup configuration. The Telecaster has two single-coil pickups, while the Ultra has three Noiseless single-coil pickups.

Another key difference is that the Telecaster features a more traditional bolt-on neck, while the Ultra features a modern set-neck design.

This gives the Telecaster a thicker and warmer tone compared to the Ultra.

Both guitars have a D-shaped neck, but the Telecaster is generally considered to be the more versatile guitar of the two.

It’s a great Jazzy guitar or country guitar, while the Ultra is better suited to a hard rock or heavy metal style of play.

So, ultimately, it depends on your musical preferences and playing style as to which one is the best choice for you.

If you’re looking for versatility, then the Telecaster might be the better option. But if you want a more modern tone and cutting-edge features, then the Ultra is the better choice.

Final thoughts

Overall, the Fender American Ultra is one of the best electric Stratocaster guitars on the market today.

If you’re looking for a high-quality instrument that delivers excellent tone and features premium components, then this is the guitar for you.

However, be prepared to pay a higher price than you might be used to, as the American Ultra is designed for experienced players who are serious about their music.

If you’re going to rock out on stage, you’ll be glad you chose the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster because of the noiseless pickups and S-1 switch, which gives you an incredible range of tones and sounds to choose from.

Whether you’re playing hard rock, heavy metal, blues, country, or jazz, this guitar can do it all. So why not give it a try today?

Looking for a stratocaster that’s better for beginners, or well suited for playing metal? Check out my complete top 10 of the best stratocasters available

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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