Review: The Fender American Original ’50s Fender Stratocaster
Lauren K Newman
She Shreds Staff
The Fender American Original pays close attention to classic specs, while adding a few but wise upgrades to these mastery models.
Fender’s AmericanOriginal series picks up where the American Vintage series left off, diving deeper into the electric and cosmetic design of the classics they’re based on. From the bone nut to the Fender branded Kluson tuners, this AmericanOriginal ‘50sStratocaster is nearly a 100% remake of the original. This combination of period correct appointments with a few modern upgrades helps create a classic yet unique electric guitar that is aesthetically satisfying and endlessly playable.
At A Glance
Upgrades distinguishing the American Original
Tone potentiometers for neck and bridge pickups rather than the classic design of neck and middle pickups
The 21 “vintage tall” frets which are narrow like the originals they’re based on, now with increased fret height helps with preventing fretting out during intense string bends and cross string soloing
The 9.5” radius and soft “V” neck profile make for easy chording and soloing
5-way pickup switch instead of 3-way
Two-piece alder body rather than the period correct one-piece ash body
Introducing the 5-Way Pickup Selector
Leaving the ’50s era three-way pickup selector switch in the dust in favor of the five-way pickup selector switch. This upgrade along with fretboard radius (from 7.5” to 9.5”) are a few of the thoughtful upgrades that increase the playability of this classic standard. Working with all the classic appointments of nitrocellulose lacquer finished maple neck and fretboard and a bone nut for evenly distributed string tension, this reissue is much like the original.
What did I use?
I played this Stratocaster through a Fender Blues Junior 15 W tube combo amplifier. Running with a clean signal I noticed the depth and fat tone of the neck pickup.
Switching to the bridge pickup, there were bright, and springy tones achieved. The middle pickup provided harmonically rich high and low mids in abundance. I then dime’d the channel volume and the high, mid, and low tone potentiometers, put the master volume at about four, and in every pickup selection configuration this guitar blasted out beautifully harmonically rich notes and tone. Chords were rich, clean and full; solos were clear and articulate with the best balance between sprightly snap and sparkle and wooly heft and burl. These pickups have a mid range voicing which is great for chording and soloing.
Finally, I connected a fuzz pedal between the guitar and the amplifier, and holy cow, these pickups sing! The neck position pickup provided an almost humbucker like sound when fed through the fuzz pedal into the amp. Big, beefy, burly chord tones and rich, resonant sustain were achieved. With the tone potentiometers now routed to neck and bridge pickups (rather than classic design of middle and neck pickups), it’s even easier to sculpt and control the guitars tone right at your fingertips.
The Extra’s Everyone Should Know
The combination of the light nitrocellulose lacquer finish on the body, (which increases the resonant properties of the body tonewood), the bone nut, and the three spring tremolo help the sound and soul of this guitar to resonate, breathe and sing from searing sweet highs to tough and snug lows.
Employing the soft “V” neck profile with the upgrade to 9.5” (from original 7.5”) radius fretboard with vintage tall frets makes this otherwise thick and clunky neck profile immediately more playable. I was able to transition seamlessly from barre chords to ‘cowboy chords’ to sweep picking, bends, and legato phrasing with ease and without fretting out.
From the upgraded electronics to the classic nitrocellulose lacquer finish, the Fender AmericanOriginal ‘50sStratocaster is an incredibly playable and beautiful guitar. At and MSRP of $1,949.99 this reissue is pricey but worth every penny. With finish choices of two tone burst, Aztec gold or vintage white (with ash body rather than two piece alder) you’ll find the look you like with the tone to match. Each guitar comes with a tweed wrap hard shell case which features a large accessory compartment. In the compartment you’ll find a certificate of authenticity, a finish upkeep guide, whammy bar and bridge cover, Allen wrenches for saddle and truss rod adjustments, Fender sticker and mini product catalog.