The Fender American Elite Stratocaster was released in 2015 and replaced the venerable American Deluxe Stratocaster line. Built in Corona, California it features many new changes to the American Deluxe series. As is tradition for Fender’s top of the line Stratocaster it features many cutting edge features that players have asked for on the Stratocaster. Let’s explore some of the great features found on the American Elite Stratocaster.
Compound Radius Neck
The 2015-2019 American Elite Stratocaster has a compound radius neck that moves from a 9.5″-14″ radius from the bottom to the top of the neck. This is done for more comfortable chording at the lower frets and easier soloing with less “fretting out” on the higher frets. It makes the playing experience much more comfortable overall. The necks are available in both rosewood and maple. The neck also moves from a “C” shaped neck to a “D” shape as you move up the neck which also aids in comfort while chording or soloing. For a better explanation of neck shapes see our page on Stratocaster neck profiles.
The neck is bolted to the body and features a contoured shape at the body which should provide more comfort to your hand when playing high on the neck. It is touted as a new contoured shape but it looks like they just removed the extra contouring at the top that was on the American Deluxe series. I’m sure it’s cheaper to cut this contour but you’ll have to decide if this is really an improvement. You can take a look at the old American Deluxe neck contouring here: Contoured Heel Featured on American Deluxe Stratocaster
Double Action Truss Rod Wheel
Another new feature found on the 2015-2019 American Elite Stratocaster is the double action truss rod adjust wheel found at the base of the neck. No longer will you need to find that allen wrench to adjust your truss rod. Simply move the wheel with your thumb and you can easily do your truss rod adjustments.
4th Generation Noiseless Pickups
The Fender Elite Stratocaster also features new 4th generation Noiseless pickups. The greatest thing about these pickups is their noise-free nature when you’re not playing. Your amp stays quiet without the constant humming of a traditional single-coil pickup. They still sound nice and chimey yet a little more warm than a traditional Strat.
Soft Touch Control Knobs
Another new feature is the soft-touch volume and tone controls found on the Elite Stratocaster. They’re easy to grab hold of and make knob-contolled volume swells a breeze. I bet Jeff Beck would really love the feel of these new soft knobs.
The Elite Stratocaster also keeps the innovative S1-switching system with the switch cleverly hidden in the volume knob. This gives a total of 10 pickup combinations greatly increasing your palette of available sounds out of this guitar. You can see in the following diagram that the switching options are slightly different than the 2013 American Deluxe Stratocaster S1-Switching options.
New String Tree
Another change on the 2015-2019 American Elite Stratocaster is the new string tree on the headstock. It is a flatter, more elongated string tree which in my opinion just increases string friction during tremolo use. I much prefer the smaller, rounder string tree from the American Deluxe Statocaster. Luckily the low profile locking tuning knobs make it so there is need for only one string tree instead of two which increases tuning stability.
The Fender locking tuners were one of the best features on the old Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. Included on the Fender American Elite Stratocaster are locking tuners. So you can rest assured with increased tuning stability because of the locking tuners.
2-Point Synchronized Tremolo
In addition to the locking tuners, the 2-point knife edge synchronized tremolo also increases your tuning stability. The 2-point synchronized tremolo was previously found on the American Deluxe Stratocaster and it’s nice to have it included here.
The final thing I’d like to point out are the included strap locks on the Fender Elite Stratocaster. This is a simple system but it works extremely well for securing your strap to the body of the guitar. The last thing you want to have happen is your guitar falling off of your strap and hitting the floor.
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in production hot rodding from Fender then the 2015-2019 Fender American Elite Stratocaster is the guitar you’re looking for. Will it stand the test of time like the American Deluxe series did? Leave your opinions in the comments below.