The Fender Stratocaster is a classic guitar. We all know what one looks like and appreciate its timeless, thoughtful design. Preferred by some of the greatest guitar players of all time, it is also known for its versatility.
No matter what the genre, the guitar still sounds brilliant. Then there is that figure. That gorgeous look that has graced stages since the birth of Rock ‘N’ Roll.
The original Fender Stratocaster was introduced in 1954 and since then guitars have advanced. Music has changed, technology too yet some things should just be kept how they are. Especially when they are that good to start with.
Thankfully, the Fender Player Stratocaster combines that vintage past with innovation. A great guitar is now even more beautiful and playable yet still comes with an unmatched tone.
Believe it or not, The Fender Standard Stratocaster has been upgraded. That was an impressive enough Fender and you could wonder where they could have gone from there.
If you were debating whether to go for a previous model and simply need a Fender in your arsenal of guitars, then the Player Stratocaster hits the mark.
Don’t worry, the Fender Player Stratocaster is still designed as you would expect. Little has changed since the original Strats which is part of the appeal. An alder wood body and a gloss polyester finish still shimmers on stage.
This is a vintage design that is quintessential Fender.
A one-size-fits-all neck shape is effortlessly comfortable with a modern C-shape. Made of maple or Pau Ferro, the ergonomic neck has a modern radius of 9.5 inches which should mean easy movement to various positions up and down the neck.
Not too thick, not too thin, and this should suit most players. Featuring just enough neck to hold onto, complex chords should not be a concern. It also looks superb with a satin urethane finish on the rear then a gloss urethane finish at the front.
Knowing what works, Fender has not changed much. That classic Fender styling remains in all its understated glory. From the overall shape to the comfortable neck and the finish itself.
There is a synthetic bone nut where the corners can be a bit sharp but aside from that this is a sleekly designed guitar.
- Alder Body with gloss finish; Flame Maple top
- One player Series humbucking Bridge pickup; two player Series single-coil Stratocaster middle and neck pickups
- “Modern C"-Shaped neck profile
- 9. 5"-Radius Fingerboard
- 2-Point tremolo Bridge with bent-steel saddles
We are happy to report that the Fender Play Stratocaster still looks like a Fender. A first glance confirms that and it simply looks stunning.
There is also an impressive range of colors to choose from if you wanted to stick to a particular scheme. Choose from Buttercream and Polar White to Sage Green Metallic, Sonic Red, Tidepool Blue, Three-Color Sunburst, and Black.
The choice of finish may also determine the color and wood of the fretboard. This includes Black, Three-Color Sunburst, and Polar White where you could get to choose which fretboard wood to go for.
However, with all the other colors that choice is gone and you will either get a maple or Pau Ferro fretboard. Whichever, they still look great but there will be players with a preference. There is a subtle difference too.
As a classic wood for the fretboard, maple can accentuate the high-end sound of the Fender. The Pau Ferro is not that much different but it is smoother and works more with the low-end and midrange sound.
One nice little feature is the ‘F’ stamped neck plate. We all know and appreciate that the guitar is a Fender yet simply having the Fender ‘F’ delivers that extra touch of authenticity.
Ah yes, most importantly the Fender Player Stratocaster still produces that classic Strat sound. Three single-coil Alnico V pickups result in a huge range of tones.
That’s always been a plus point for the Fender and that sonic versatility remains here. These pickups have been redesigned from those on the predecessor; The Standard, for a more traditional sound.
This one change is a telling one. If you hadn’t noticed, that is an upgrade from the ceramic magnets that were cheaper and offered a harsher sound.
These pickups have staggered poles in a triple-layer pickguard which has been adjusted for height and tilt. The bass sides have also been lowered for a more balanced response throughout the strings.
Even more versatility comes from a five-way blade switch. Allowing for various pickup combinations never seemed easier. You can go from bridge to neck to neck and middle, just the middle or middle plus bridge.
The Fender was the first guitar style to allow this and you can see why it works.
The bridge comes with a gentle traveler for less friction along the strings which shows how much they have kept the playing in mind. The guitar then has more sustain while remaining in tune impressively.
Whether you want some squeal from the pickups or tremolo when required, the bridge works well for both.
A two-point vibrato is a smooth operator, returning fluidly back to pitch. There is more, not one but two tone knobs that offer more control.
Tone 1 for the neck and middle pickups then tone 2 for the bridge pickup which is a feature unavailable on vintage models. More control from just a single modification.
As if you were wondering, the bridge pickup still sounds massive yet warm. Apply it for heavy metal and wait until you hear that growl. That control scheme also includes a master volume which you would expect.
Of course, the best way to evaluate the sound is to plug it in. Almost instantly, you can hear that recognizable Fender tone. There is a grainy feel to the neck pickup though still full-bodied.
Going down to the middle pickup introduces us to the star of the show; beautiful full body and singing harmonics. This should still sound impressive even when playing without a pick.
Then the bridge pick up which has a decent bite to it but is not too harsh. The Fender Player Stratocaster even comes with 22 medium jumbo frets. That’s right, an extra note for even higher solos.
Overall, this guitar offers solid intonation and remains musical going all the way through the neck. That’s from practising all sorts of playing.
Deep tones that clang on the neck pickup, a heavy slam on the bridge, or some nifty chiming from the middle/bridge and neck/middle combinations. Try it on rock, country, heavy metal, and even pop.
Try it out with some fuzz and distortion pedals where the sound still rings as true as you would expect.
Playing the Fender Player Stratocaster should be a joy. You can slide your finger and thumb from the top to the bottom and find no sharp edges. That is expert craftsmanship from these Mexican-made guitars.
The neck is the main feature for comfort and you can almost feel it disappear when you put the guitar on. That means hours of effortless playing whether standing up or sitting down.
Mainly down to the neck and the chrome finish, this guitar has a svelte, holdable feel.
The Fender Player Stratocaster has great playability. There. We said it. The neck helps yet from a single note you can feel and hear the essence of a Strat. That spring from a bolt-on that comes from a well-constructed fingerboard.
Arguably, this feels even more of a Strat than its predecessor.
For someone wanting to own their first Fender Strat or their first electric guitar then this may be the one. The Fender Player Stratocaster still has all the hallmarks of a Fender yet with added design modifications.
There is the bell-like high end, great intonation yet an even better feel from that neck. A 9.5-inch radius neck is wide enough but not too wide with articulate yet authentic pickups.
The gloss finish also means that maintenance should be as easy as the playing. Without changing much, one tidy modification is adding a tone control for the bridge pickup.
You will likely never realize that such a feature could make such a difference. Another fret means an even more extended range. Then there is the simple touch of an ‘F’ stamped neck plate.
This is a guitar with the features to truly excel your playing without it looking like that much effort. The intonation is ever-present, even when thrown through distortion the guitar sound is still as you would expect.
The new and improved features are there to let you express yourself so find out what works for you.
Fender knows what it’s doing and knows what works for guitarists. Yes, there are modern additions yet you should expect a guitar to roll with the times.
An additional fret and another tone control are both welcome modifications that you can play with. They may even take your playing up a level. This should be your main guitar due to its versatility and all-round great design.
The Fender Player Stratocaster is also a great guitar to learn with as it offers so much variety of playing. Reliable yet still a high-class performer, this is a worthwhile start to make or another guitar to add. Just don’t be tempted to smash it.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.