Fender Releases New Strat Model – American Special Stratocaster

American Special Stratocaster - Candy Apple Red
American Special Stratocaster – Candy Apple Red

For the 2010 model year Fender has released a new Stratocaster model, the American Special Stratocaster. As the name suggests, it is an American made Stratocaster which is why I’m talking about it here on Deluxe Guitar. I’m pretty excited about this new offering from Fender and very excited about the lower price point.

You can currently purchase an American Special Stratocaster from Musician’s Friend for $799.99. That’s the lowest price for a current production model American made Fender Stratocaster. I was pretty stoked when I heard that Fender was replacing the Highway 1 Stratocaster with the new American Special. The American Special has some nice, upgraded features not found on the Highway 1.

The Highway 1 Stratocaster had a thin coat of paint for a finish while the American Special Stratocaster has a fully finished and sealed paint job. On the downside, it’s only offered in two colors, Candy Apple Red and Two-Tone Sunburst. These are two of Fender’s most popular colors but I pine for the days of Surf Green, Daphne Blue and Fiesta Red on the American line of Stratocasters.

The American Special Stratocaster also comes with Texas Special Pickups and a new Greasebucket tone control. The Texas Special pickups are overwound and have a hotter output than standard single coil pickups. They are also wired with the middle pickup in a reverse-wind configuration so you get noise cancellation in positions 2 and 4 on the 5-way pickup selector. These are the same pickups used in the Stevie Ray signature guitar.

Another great feature of the American Special Stratocaster is the Greasebucket tone control. This tone control will roll of high frequencies without adding bass frequencies. This is good because standard tone controls on overwound pickups tend to get very boomy when the highs are rolled off.

There are a couple things I don’t like about the new American Special Stratocaster. I really hate the vintage style 6-point synchronized tremolo. I’ve never been able to keep a 6-point in tune very well. The American Deluxe Stratocaster has the silky smooth 2-point tremelo which is a much better tremolo. I wish they would have put it on the American Special Stratocaster. I also don’t like the bent steel bridge pieces that hold the strings at the tremolo. I much prefer the solid block steel bridge pieces found on the American Deluxe.

Another thing I really don’t like about the American Special Stratocaster package is the fact that you only get a padded gig-bag with your guitar. Gig bags are better than having no protection at all but they’re a poor substitute for a good hard case. Just remember that you should treat your guitar in a gig bag like it wasn’t in a gig bag at all.

Overall though, I’m very pleased with the new American Deluxe Stratocaster. It’s an excellent bargain for an American made Stratocaster. Kudos to Fender for bringing us a more affordable, quality instrument.

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