For as long as they have been around, Fender has never been one to rest on their laurels. They have continued to revamp their guitars for the modern era while staying true to the roots of their illustrious history – but that is precisely why we found the need to make this Fender Guitar Guide.
With so many series updates coming and going in Fender’s already impressive selection of instruments, we are truly spoiled for choice. But just how are they different? Do they justify their different price tags? Well, that’s where we come in!
Join us as we compare all of Fender’s current lineup of instruments. It’ll definitely help give you an idea of which guitar suits your playing needs best.
Introduced back in 2018, the Fender Player Series is created to be the next generation of budget-friendly instruments with the timeless quality of the Fender brand. Made in the Enseda facility in Mexico, these instruments are the ideal starting point for someone wanting a bonafide Fender decal on their guitar. Encapsulating the same timeless designs and iconic sounds of Fender’s legendary instruments, the Player Series goes beyond the call of duty by offering a whopping 21 different models that will suit almost any music style you’ll want to get into.
You’ll be able to pick from HSS, HSH, SSS, and Floyd Rose Stratocasters, HH and SS Telecaster, a Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Jaguar Bass, and fretless and five-string Jazz Basses. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your first guitar or find a road-worthy gigging instrument, you’ll definitely want to consider the Fender Player Series lineup.
Building on the foundations of the acclaimed Player series, Fender’s new Player Plus series introduces select changes and improvements that are sure to appeal to players who love a little more modern injection to their guitars.
Some select improvements include all-new high-powered noiseless electronics – pickups that output high octane tones without becoming muddy or muffled. In fact, these enhancements are further complemented by the expanded switching options and a treble-bleed circuit that you’ll find on the Player Plus.
Other major refinements include rolled fingerboard edges, active circuitry (for bass), a flatter 12-inch fretboard, HiMass bridge (for bass), and deluxe locking tuners. Throw in Fender’s Deluxe Gig Bag plus an assortment of new colours and you’ve got yourself a hell of a deal!
High performance and specs at an unbeatable price, the Player Plus Series is a welcome treat for the player who prioritises playability perks!
What’s the best way to get the vibes of a vintage Fender without spending a huge amount of dough? The Fender Vintera Series of course!
The replacement for Fender’s Classic Player range, Fender’s Vintera Series combines highly sought-after features of Pre-CBS instruments at accessible prices. Featuring 17 instruments, the Vintera series encompasses the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, Mustang, and Jazzmaster models within its extensive catalogue.
Expect specs and features like period-correct neck shapes, new pickups with decade-specific tones, and vintage-correct colours for the vintage aficionados out there. In addition, for almost every decade-correct model, there’s also a counterpart “modded” version that offers modern tweaks that is sure to appease contemporary players.
Made in America
Built in Fender’s Corona, California factory, Fender’s USA models are the gold standard for quality, tone and playability. Made with premium tonewoods, high-end hardware, and elite craftsmanship, Fender’s American guitars are sure to please even the most discerning players.
As the entry point to Fender’s upper echelon, the Fender American Performer Series puts USA-made Fender quality in the hands of working musicians.
Built upon the foundations of its predecessor – the American Special – the Fender American Performer Series refines its models with some noteworthy upgrades that strike the perfect balance between traditional design and modern practicality.
Featuring the all-new Yosemite pickups, Fender’s acclaimed Greasebucket tone circuit, some seriously potent hardware upgrades, and some eye-catching colours – these guitars and basses play extremely well and dare we say, give higher-end instruments a serious run for their money.
If there’s one thing that you can count on, it’s that guitarists love vintage guitars just as much as new ones. Perhaps even more. Considering that Fender practically pioneered the instrument, it seems only fitting that they established the American Vintage II series.
Comprised of 12 models spanning the breadth of 1951 to 1977, these year-specific guitars and basses reproduce nearly all the specs from their original predecessors. Despite the emphasis on period-correct details, the American Vintage II series also places a priority on practicality and playability. For example, the 1957 Stratocaster swaps out the 3-way switch for a 5-way switch.
One of the few concessions to modernity is the technology used to create them, ensuring identical builds across each model. Currently, each guitar in the series is equipped with the era-accurate 7.25” radius fretboard. It’s a rare feature in contemporary guitars – with a few exceptions existing in Custom Shop creations – that’s currently seeing a renaissance amongst current players.
Designed for musicians seeking exceptional playability, versatility, and performance – the Fender American Professional II guitars are solid workhorses for hobbyists and touring pros alike.
Built upon the foundations of its first iteration, Fender utilised player feedback and collaborated with various artists to improve its guitars for an encore performance. Developing an instrument that strikes the perfect balance between traditional design and modern practicality.
Maintaining much that made the original American Professional lineup so popular, the American Professional II range sees upgrades in the neck carve (Deep “C” with rolled fingerboard edges), materials (Roasted Pine is now an option for bodies), pickups (V-Mod II pickups), and so many other aspects – making it some of the best guitars we’ve seen in this price point.
The highest-specced model from Fender’s production line, the Fender American Ultra is Fender’s most advanced series of electric guitars and basses. These instruments are heavily-engineered guitars that cover lots of sonic territory while providing unmatched performance.
Sporting forward-thinking electronics and hardware appointments like the Ultra Noiseless Pickups, S-1 Switching, and Deluxe Locking Tuners on their guitars and Active/Passive Electronics, a 3-Band EQ and HiMass Bridges their basses – these instruments represent the ultimate Fender instrument in terms of versatility and playability
In addition to ergonomic construction tweaks and welcome playability modifications, the Fender American Ultra Series is undoubtedly the one for you if you demand ultimate precision and uncompromising tone from your instruments.
One of the latest series to be launched by the Californian company, the American Ultra Luxe is the new top dog in the Fender catalogue.
Consisting of four distinct Strat and Tele models, these instruments share many similarities with their predecessors but with a few notable changes. The most apparent feature is undoubtedly the introduction of stainless steel frets – a first from Fender. These frets are advantageous in many ways, being that they are virtually impervious to fret wear and are a godsend for silky smooth bends.
The neck profile of the American Ultra Luxe has also been revamped. Instead of the modern D of the Ultra, the Ultra Luxe sports a unique and fuller Augmented “D” neck profile. This, combined with meticulously rolled fingerboard edges and a tapered neck heel are the recipe for endless playing comfort with effortless access to the highest register.
Amongst the many specs that see a return from the Ultra include the 10”-14” compound-radius fingerboard, Ultra Noiseless Vintage electronics, sculpted rear body contours, sealed locking tuning machines, chrome hardware, and a TUSQ nut. A versatile, state-of-the-art instrument – this novel series will undoubtedly inspire you to push your playing to new heights!
Also known as the ‘have your cake and eat it too’ design, Acoustasonic guitars are seamless blends of acoustic and electric components. Introduced in 2019, these are fairly recent additions to the Fender family. You’ll find iterations of them in both the Player and American lines, making them highly accessible for both beginners and established musicians.
As a rule, Acoustasonics are built around Fishman acoustic engines and a noiseless pickup system that allows for instant switching between acoustic and electric tones. Their hollow bodies are ‘Tranverse’ braced, which not only provides an organic level of resonance, but also makes them feel more like electric guitars.
Overall, Fender Acoustasonics are wholly versatile, able to dial into tones that range from pristine acoustic to foot-stomping aggression easily. The Player has a trio of voice pairs, and you can get up to 10 voicings with the American, so it’s just a matter of choosing the guitar that works for your style
Experimentation and innovation are what Parallel Universe instruments are all about. It’s where Fender sends some of its most iconic models to be “blended”, for the lack of a better term. Launched in 2018, the limited-edition collection includes marvels like the Strat Tele Hybrid, Jaguar Strat, and Meteora amongst its menagerie of guitars and basses.
As Fender puts it, the Parallel Universe series was designed to explore unconventional takes on familiar shapes. That doesn’t mean that choices are limited to your usual suspects, however. Fender also uses this opportunity to reference models that might not be too familiar to the general public.
Safe to say, if you’re a player that values out-of-the-box thinking, this is probably where you’ll find a Fender to match.
Ever wanted to emulate the sounds and style of your favourite guitarist? Chances are you’ll be needing a signature instrument, which is where the Artist series comes in. Fender collaborates with some of the most diverse and dynamic players in the industry to build their dream guitar. Basically, everyone who’s anyone gets a feature here. So, expect to find Strats, Teles, and a whole bunch of shapes depending on each artist’s distinctive requirements.
The current roster of signature artists capably shows off how versatile Fender guitars and basses are. Comprising icons from a wide variety of genres, you’ll see models tied to Slipknot’s Jim Root, Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Eric Johnson. It’s not all old-school however, as newer designs like the MonoNeon Bass and Kingfish Deluxe Tele will prove. Either way, this collection is one that fans won’t want to miss out on.
Although they often fly under the radar in non-Asian countries, Fender Japan collections have been around since the early 80s. In fact, it may come as a surprise to know that all Fender guitars were once produced exclusively in Japan for a brief period of time.
Having said that, the Fender Japan runs are still major contenders, Most of their instruments do not align with the familiar ranges seen in US and Mexican-made lines, which makes them exciting prospects. You’ll see a variety of different body shapes, hardware, and finishes across series like the Hybrid II or the JV (Japanese Vintage) Modified.
All-in-all, there are many reasons to pick a Fender Made in Japan model. For starters, they’re a good midpoint between Mexican and US-made guitars in terms of price. And since their quality is they’re also exclusive enough to feel like one-of-a-kind purchases.
What if I want even more?
This is where the Fender Custom Shop comes in. The crème de la crème of the Fender Guitar Guide, the Fender Custom Shop is where you should be if you plan to get an extraordinary instrument.
Here is where you’ll find eye-watering, one-of-a-kind instruments crafted by Fender’s prestigious Master Builders, to the exquisite team-built recreations of sought-after models from the early 60s. Fender Custom Shop instruments can be found off the walls of Swee Lee, and can also be fitted out in your dream specifications the way you’d commission a bespoke suit.
|Series||Guitar Options||Bass Options||Price||Notable Features|
|Player Series||Duo-Sonic, Lead, Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, and Mustang||Jazz, Precision, Jaguar, and Mustang||From $1,008.34 to $1,699||Satin-finished necks, revamped & improved pickups, new finishes, two-point tremolos (Stratocasters) and 22-Frets (Guitars)|
|Player Plus||Stratocaster and Telecaster||Jazz and Precision||From $1,249 to $1,799||Alder bodies, satin modern “C” maple necks, locking tuners, expanded electronics, treble-bleed circuit, 22 medium jumbo frets|
|Acoustasonic||Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster||NA||From $1,749 to $4,799||Acoustic engine, resonant and hollow body, Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS), Noiseless pickups, Acoustasonic Enhancer|
|Vintera||Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, and Mustang||Jazz, Precision, and Mustang||From $1,319.20 to $1,999||Recreated vintage pickups sets, period-correct neck profiles, vintage colours, and modern electronics or modifications (Modified Versions)|
|American Performer||Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, and Mustang||Jazz, Precision, and Mustang||From $1,664.41 to $2,199||Most affordable American-made Fenders, new Yosemite single-coil pickups, enhanced electronics, and vintage-style hardware|
|American Professional II||Stratocaster, Telecaster,andJazzmaster||Jazz and Precision||From $2,179 to $2,499||All-new V-Mod II pickups, treble-bleed circuit, rolled fingerboard edges, and a new sculpted heel|
|American Ultra||Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster||Jazz and Precision||From $2,899 to $3,499||Super-sculpted neck heel, locking tuning machines, Ultra-Noiseless pickups, treble-bleed circuit, redesigned preamp with active/passive switching (bass), and HiMass bridge (bass)|
|American Ultra Luxe||Stratocaster and Telecaster||NA||From $3,599 to $3,899||Stainless steel medium-jumbo frets, compound-radius fingerboard, Super-sculpted neck heel, locking tuning machines, Ultra Noiseless pickups, augmented “D”-shaped neck with Ultra satin finish|
|American Original||Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, and Jazzmaster||Jazz and Precision||From $2,799 to $3,200||Historic neck profiles, vintage tall frets with modern radiuses, period-correct pickups and hardware, and gorgeous lacquer finishes|
|Parallel Universe||Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Hybrids||NA||From $1,311.14 to $3,632.64||Hybrid guitars that combine characteristics from different Fender models and lines|
|Artist||Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, and Jaguar||Jazz and Precision||From $1,679 to $3,599||Signature guitars built to the specs of Fender artists. May either be repros of existing instruments or customs that suit their needs.|
|Japan||Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, and Jaguar||Jazz and Precision||From $1,109.27 to $4,999||High-quality made-in-Japan instruments that diverge from the usual offerings made by Fender USA. Expect atypical hardware, body shapes, and other design cues.|
|Fender American Vintage II||Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster||Jazz and Precision||From $2,999 to $3,499||Built with period-accurate bodies, necks and hardware, premium finishes and meticulously voiced, year-specific pickups, each instrument captures the essence of authentic Fenders from their specific era|
Thanks for taking the time to look at our Fender Guitar Guide – we do hope that it has made your guitar buying decision a lot clearer. If you’d like to take your time and browse through our catalogue of Fender instruments, you can do so at our website!
Stay tuned to the Swee Lee Blog for product highlights from the new shipment of Fender products that will be coming in soon.
Read more: Why You Should Buy a Custom Shop Guitar