One of the legendary changes that Leo Fender made to the Fender Stratocaster is the addition of body contouring. Body contouring is that nice scooped out section of the guitars body that fits against your hip or ribs. Having body contouring makes the Stratocaster hang comfortably against your body and eliminates the sharp edges found on such guitars as the Les Paul. It makes the Stratocaster a much more comfortable instrument to play.
The latest series of the American Deluxe Stratocaster features a new area of body contouring where the new compound radius neck joins to the body of the guitar. This part of the guitar is called the heel and it’s a block of wood that is used to help hold the bolts in place that attach the neck to the body of the guitar. The heel on older Strats has been a sharp edged square of wood. Well not on the new American Deluxe Series Stratocaster. They feature a new beveled neck heel instead of the sharp edges that were used on previous Strats.
The beveled or contoured neck heel has the lower corner of the wood block shaved down and rounded to perfectly fit your hand. The metal mounting plate that holds the screws to the body is also rounded to fit the neck heel. This new neck heel literally sits perfectly in the palm of your hand when you slide your hand on top of it to reach the upper fret ranges. I’ve never played on a guitar that has such an easy playing neck heel area. Some glued-in neck guitars such as the ES-335 have a nice smooth rounded neck heel and although the new strats aren’t quite that streamlined they are more streamlined than ever before.
The new contoured heel on the American Series Stratocaster is an excellent improvement that you never knew you needed until you’ve played it. Every time I play in those upper fret ranges I appreciate how smooth and efficient the new beveled neck heel is. It’s another improvement that you have to take into consideration when making your purchase of a brand new Fender American Stratocaster.