Fender Player Series Stratocaster is keeping it classic with some contemporary updates.

Released in 2018,the newest version of the classic Stratocaster is made to replace the old Made in Mexico standards. The new models are bringing in all the power of the classic MIM Strat, but with a few untraditional updates.

First of the fun upgrades would be the new color line: Sonic Red, Tidepool, Sage Green Metallic, Polar White, Buttercream, Black, and 3-color Sunburst. Left-handed versions are available as well. The other visible updates are the addition of the 22nd fret, while the MIM Standard only carried 21. It’s not much, but just enough to rip into those higher notes. Lastly they have added an F stamp to the neck plate, giving the backside a little flare.

SPECS

  • Maple or Pau Ferro Fretboard
  • 22 Medium Jumbo size frets
  • Alder body
  • Modern C Shape Neck
  • Satin Urethane Finish on Neck with Gloss Urethane Headstock Face
  • 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles
  • Player Series Alnico 5 Strat ® Single-Coil
  • Priced at 674.99

CHANGES IN WIRING

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Sonic Red model. First, I ran it through my Fender Deluxe on the dirty channel, (I don’t mess with the clean channel anymore, I think all guitars could use a bit of dirt under their fingernails), with just enough gain to give it a little grit. The new to the MIM series Alnico 5 pick ups give a very clear and sharp tone on the neck pick up, while the right amount of depth and fullness to the bridge. I love the new design of the second tone knob wired to the bridge pick up. I enjoyed playing bright and grainy in its vibrant tone, while being able to dial it back just a hair. I feel it’s a whole new way of dialing in a MIM strat, since the MIM Standards only allowed tonal changes on the neck and middle pick up.

COMPARISONS TO THE MIM (MADE IN MEXICO) STANDARD SERIES

  • 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles VS
  • 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo

I’ve scoured the Internet researching the differences between two and 6-point bridges, and I’ve put together that it comes down to visual preferences. They both hold up great. I’ve heard that 2-point Vibrato Systems tend to be smoother in use and have less tuning issues, but at the same time I have read similar opinions about the 6-pointer. They both do the job; my opinion is the 2-point is less work. You can mod out the 2-point easier with fewer screws to worry about. The American Professional Series has been using the 2-point “tremolo” system for quite some time, so it’s nice to see it change over in the new MIM line.

Player Series Alnico 5 Strat ® Single-Coil vs Standard Single-Coil Strat®

Alnico is an acronym for aluminum, nickel and cobalt. These metals alloyed make up the magnets inside of the single coil pickups. These types of magnets were first used in Fender guitars as early as the 1940’s. Ceramic magnets took over in the 1960’s being more technically efficient, but created a harsher tone, low-end tone for the pick-ups. The old Mexican Standards Series used these ceramic magnets in the Standard Single-Coil Strat® being easier to come by, I.E.- cheaper to make. The new MIM Player Series has much in common with the American Series, but at less than half the price.

Alnico V (5) is the strongest magnet out of the three current options, Alnico II and Alnico III. More powerful in tone and response, it’s greater output makes it the best choice for a bright and punchy sound. The lower powered magnets are generally used on the vintage replicas, to soften the tone. The choice to use the Alnico 5 on this guitar really creates a sound as “straty” as you can get.

PRICED TO SHRED

With all these new updates making the new MIM Player Strat so similar to the American series, I think there are few reasons why you wouldn’t go for this one at that price. Though it doesn’t come with a gig bag, you can get yourself one with the money you are saving from not buying “American”.