The Fender American Standard Stratocaster is the epitome of the Stratocaster. The only American production Stratocaster higher on the American Made list is the American Deluxe Stratocaster. The American Standard Stratocaster is a serious, professional Stratocaster and it’s also the Strat that carries the most classic Stratocaster sound.
The American Standard Stratocaster has stayed very true to it’s Stratocaster roots and it doesn’t vary much from the original Stratocaster design by Leo Fender himself. Even though the design is quite close to the original Strat design there are some key upgrades on the American Standard Stratocaster that improve on the original Stratocaster design.
Most notable is the excellent two-point synchronized tremolo bridge unit. The two-point tremolo is much more stable than the classic 6-point tremolo. The two-point is mounted on two studs with knife-edge pivot points on the bridge itself. The design is very similar to the pivot point on a Floyd Rose bridge. The two-point synchronized tremolo is one of the reasons the American Standard Stratocaster stays in tune so well.
Another great feature on the American Standard Stratocaster is the staggered tuning machines. The tuners have staggered pole pieces so that the strings are held tightly across the nut. This eliminates the need for a second string tree to hold the strings into the nut. Having staggered tuners is another feature that improves on the original Strat design by helping keep the guitar in tune.
The neck on the American Standard Stratocaster has some very nice features as well. One thing I love about the neck on this guitar is the hand rolled fingerboard edges. This process takes the sharp angle off of the edges of the neck. This gives the neck a silky smooth feel on your hand when you play it and it makes it feel like a neck that’s been played on for years.
Fender is able to sell the American Standard Stratocaster at a lower price than the American Deluxe Stratocaster for a few different reasons. There are some features on the American Deluxe Strat you won’t find on the American Standard. There are also some cost cutting measures used on the American Standard Stratocaster. Fender puts a positive spin on some cost cutting measures present on the American Standard Strat but they’re still there to save the company cash.
The American Standard Stratocaster uses the traditional single coil pickups as opposed to the Noiseless Pickups found on the American Deluxe. The American single coil pickups are cheaper to produce but they also give you that classic single-coil bite and chime that are signatures of the Stratocaster sound. Along with that sound you get the notorious 60 cycle hum that comes with traditional single coil pickups.
Another feature you won’t find on the American Standard Stratocaster is the S1 switching system. It’s a shame because the S1 would really give the American Standard a lot of tonal options and some great hum-free settings with it’s single coil pickups. But, it’s cheaper to make them without the S1 Switching system. You also lose the locking tuners found on the American Deluxe Stratocaster.
One cost cutting measure that I personally don’t like are the bent steel bridge pieces used on the bridge. They look cheap and the feel cheap. I much prefer the solid blocks of metal used on the American Deluxe Stratocaster bridge. Also on the American Standard Strat bridge, Fender is using a copper alloy. They say it improves resonance but it feels like cost-cutting to me.
Another cost cutting measure is the use of a thinner finish undercoat. As you know, if you use less paint and primer, you spend less money on the finish. Even though this is a cost cutting measure I do believe that it could improve the sound of the guitar as it ages. As the body wood dries over time, the tone of a guitar generally improves. We’ll have to check on these guitars in few years and see how the finish is affecting the sound.
All in all, the American Standard Stratocaster is still a very sweet guitar. It’s got the classic Stratocaster sound and it comes in a ton of different colors and finish options. You have your choice of either Maple or Rosewood fretboards on the American Standard Strat. It’s really a great guitar even though it doesn’t have all the nice upgrades the American Deluxe Stratocaster has.