Sam checks out the awesome new Fender American Ultra Telecaster!
The American Ultra series is joining the American Original and Professional guitars, as the latest addition to the Fender USA range, manufactured in Corona California, and just like the Elite series guitars that they’re replacing, they offer a few of the more advanced, none traditional features designed for the modern player who needs the ultimate in precision, performance and tone.
As with most Fender Telecasters, the body of the guitar is made from Alder or Ash, depending on the finish, but to improve playing comfort, the rear of the body features a belly contour similar to what you’d find on a Stratocaster, and the addition of tapered contouring around the neck joint, which significantly improves playability and ease of access when playing at the highest frets.
These performance based upgrades extend to the bolt on Maple neck which features Fender’s unique modern D profile. With its smooth satin finish, it’s quite slim and very comfortable to play, but still retains that kinda rounded feel that you’d expect to find on a Fender.
Fitted to the neck is either a Maple or Rosewood fingerboard, as opposed to the Ebony boards that were found on the previous Elite series guitars. The fingerboards are fitted with 22 Medium Jumbo frets and the edges or the boards have been rolled off slightly, which really improves comfort and helps reduce playing fatigue.
Now whereas most Tele’s feature a 9.5 inch fingerboard radius, or a more rounded 7.25 inches on vintage models, the American Ultra has a more modern compound radius, going from a slightly less rounded 10 inches at the nut to a much flatter 14 inch radius at the higher frets, so overall, the neck feels really fast, accurate and effortless to play.
Hardware-wise, in keeping with the modern, performance based design of the American Ultra, there’s a 6 saddle, string thru body bridge, allowing for more accurate intonation adjustment when compared to a standard 3 saddle bridge, and the saddles are made from chromed brass to improve tone. Up on the headstock there’s a set of deluxe locking tuners, making restringing quick and easy, a bone nut is fitted for maximum string vibration transfer, and Fender have gone back to putting the truss rod adjuster up at the headstock end again, as opposed to at the heel of the neck like on the old Elite guitars.
In terms of electronics, the guitars are fitted with a pair of Fender Ultra Noiseless Telecaster pickups, delivering classic tele tones with loads of clarity and bite, but without any of the electrical hum or buzzing that you might get from standard single coils, and these run through a 3-way switch, volume and 2 tone controls. To offer another tonal option, it also features Fenders S1 switching system, allowing you to combine the neck and bridge pickup in series as opposed to in parralel, which is effectively like turning the pickups in a single humbucker, something that you can’t do on a traditional tele.
Cosmetically, there’s a wide range of new gloss polyurethane finishes to choose from including this really cool looking mocha burst. There’s binding around the body, vintage looking pick guards and aged control knobs, and when you combine that with the Gold Fender logo, pearloid dot inlays and darker tinted necks and headstocks , you could say that the American Ultra is arguably a more traditional, stylish looking guitar, when compared to the previous American Elite model, which personally I think I prefer.Finally, as you’d expect, the guitar comes supplied with a premium quality, heavy duty Fender moulded case to keep it safe when you’re not playing it.