Saturday, August 13, 2016

Elitist (Fender content)

Greetings, Fender benders. As at January 2016, Fender retired the American Deluxe series. The American Elite range took over with some refinements & these instruments are now available at Swee Lee for your considerations. I managed to test drive the rosewood fretboard version as seen above but of the sunburst variety, unlike the blue finish you see here.

Fit/ finish
The Elite models represent the manufacturer's top of the line contemporary offerings. These are modern Strats, as current as they are, with no vintage take on any features. The instrument is truly representative of its elite status with superb QC through & through. The ribcage contour is a little deeper this time round (almost touching the back plate & stretches to the cutaway) & this only promotes playing comfort with no compromise to the overall instrument mass. Kudos to Fender for moving the truss rod adjustment to the body end as well, this wheel type makes life easier for tinkerers out there & there will be tinkerers. Top marks for Fender here, absolute value-for-money American model for your consideration.

Tone/ Playability
Be informed that the pickups in this range are now the latest noiseless single coils Fender has to offer. They are called the 4th Generation Noiseless (ha!) & maintained the quiet performance of their predecessors. Vintage buffs wouldn't be too thrilled with these contemporary performers because they don't twang as much as the standard single coils. This is the obvious tradeoff when you stack single coils to buck the hum. Yes, you still get that slicing treble response but not as much twangy goodness, best manifested by Jeff Beck. Keeping this in mind, the pickups are admirable performers with the S1 switch engaged. This is where you get to hear boosted single coil tones reaching an almost full humbucking potential. 

The neck profile is awesome particularly to shred dweebs. The C contour flattens out towards the upper frets, to a D carve, something an Ibanez proponent is familiar with, without the lack of meat. I did some finger style & shred stuff in good measures (despite being despicable at both) so it goes to show how contemporary this Strat is. 

Top marks to the 2-point bridge for being very responsive to whammy actions of the subtle & vigorous applications & the synthetic nut- it worked, was well cut, it deserves to be there.

It's a forward move by Fender & it was done well. The Strat purists would question the need for an S1 switching option since it very much displaces the instrument in terms of tone authenticity. For this consideration, I'd say to these purists- look elsewhere since the Strat range is a varied one. Even for non-purists, that less than twangy affair for all things Strat is a bit much to deal with but tone-wise, you still get a very Strat-y affair. The only issue here & it's pretty much personal, is price. There are many Strat-type guitars out there with outstanding QC & kickass tone listing for very much lesser than this Elite but that Fender label there commands a much higher resale value in the after-market. Something for you to think about before parting with cash.

Rating: 75%

Fender: American Elite Stratocaster
Availability: Swee Lee Co.
List: $2,899

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