Every few years, Fender revamps its flagship models with a new series. 2020 sees the guitar giant unveil its new American Professional II series, featuring all your old favourites with a mix of vintage styling and modern appointments. But have these new instruments got what it takes to be on your list of must-haves? Let’s find out!
Fender American Professional II
Fender’s new American Professional II replaces its previous American Professional range. This comes as no surprise to us, as the company had been slowly been removing those older models from its site for a while now. The new range includes Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Precision Bass, and Jazz Bass models in various formats, including a smattering of left handed versions. It’s the typical refresh of USA built models we see every 3-5 years from the brand.
Models include an HSS Strat, 5-string and fretless Jazz and P-Basses, and Telecaster Deluxe models. Noticeable omissions are the HH Stratocaster of the previous American Professional range, and Jaguar models.
Fender has kept some of the best parts of the previous American Professional range, including the Deep C neck profiles, but updated elsewhere with enhanced hardware and design aspects. New features include a cold rolled steel sustain block for the Stratocaster models, Roasted Pine bodies on select models, a new asymmetrical bevelled neck plate, the new Jazzmaster Panorama Tremolo and Pop-in Arm (which is billed as being smoother to use), and a new Telecaster Top Loader/String-Through bridge plate.
All models get the new Super Natural neck finishes and rolled fingerboard edges, plus a contoured neck heel to match that bevelled neck plate which makes for much better upper fret access. Other minor updates include new string trees and strap button designs.
V-Mod II pickups and wiring
Pickups now include the new V-Mod II single-coil pickups, or the Double Tap humbuckers where appropriate, and a few nifty wiring options across the various models. For example, you get a Push/Push option that coil-splits on the HSS Strat models, or adds the neck pickup to switch position 1 on SSS Strat models.
On the new Jazzmaster model you get a slide switch that puts the guitar in series mode and the vintage “wheels” are volume and tone. The Push/Push tone knob here taps the bridge to a more vintage output, as it is hotter in normal mode.
I was a bit disappointed to see the new V-Mod II Double Tap humbuckers instead of the CuNiFe Wide Range pickups on the Deluxe models. Especially since Fender is making the original pickups once more and everyone I know wants them in their guitars. So I think that was a missed opportunity here.
Finishes are all gloss urethane and now include Dark Night, Miami Blue, Mercury, Roasted Pine, Olympic White, 3 Tone Sunburst, Black, Butterscotch Blonde, Sienna Sunburst (on Roasted Pine), and Mystic Surf Green. You also have both maple and rosewood fretboard options, depending on the colour scheme you opt for. As mentioned earlier, the necks have a matte Super Natural finish, and the ones with maple fingerboards are matte on the rear of the neck, with gloss on the fingerboard and headstock front.
Each of the new American Professional II range comes in a deluxe moulded Fender hard case included in the price.
It certainly is an update, though I’m not sure it’s the one players are looking for, as some of the hardware choices and pickup combinations aren’t exactly game changing. Rather than a new string tree, I would have preferred to see staggered locking tuners, for example.
Has Fender succeeded in balancing vintage tones and modern appointments? If you want a good quality, American made guitar for gigging and recording, then on paper, these models fit that bill perfectly. But if you prefer a classic Strat or Tele, you will probably want to look elsewhere, as these updates are a (slight) departure from that proven formula.
Is the new American Professional II for you?
If you want the looks and feel of a classic Fender guitar, but also modern playability and some new sounds that go beyond the classic tones of these instruments, then you will probably enjoy this new range. But if you’re looking for something as close as possible to the golden years of Fender, then you may be disappointed. You can read all the full specifications for these new Fender American Professional II models over on Fender’s main site.
Want an in-depth look at one of the new models? Check out my review of the new American Professional II Stratocaster here.
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