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Fender Stratocaster Ultra (opinions?)

exodus

Member
Messages
1,826
I remember as a kid I'd see ads for the Fender Strat Ultra... flamed maple top, cool looking electronics, ebony board, roller nut, locking straps, Schaller tuners, bi-flex truss rod, etc. Seemed like THE strat at the time. Really pretty. Of course, all that was before I joined TGP (by a few decades). ;)

For nostalgia sake, I took a look on ebay for Strat Ultras and was frankly shocked to see that these things are in the $2k range.

Is there a following for these guitars? Just curious what people think of them.
 

TastyBeverage

Member
Messages
102
Restringing one as we speak! I have a '92 ultra I bought used in 1996. It was my only guitar in high school and I thought it was amaaaaaaaazing.

Didn't love the lace sensor pickups as time wore on so swapped them out for frailin single coils 5 or so years ago. Just recently dropped a humbucker in the bridge and wired up split electronics so I could still quack. Overall it's alw darker than your average strat but I dig that. Its a great guitar!



 

Guitar Josh

Resident Curmudgeon
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
18,802
I love the Plus and Plus Deluxe but never could find an Ultra worth keeping. Most I've played are very heavy and I never really cared for the faux "humbucker" and always kept it in single coil mode in the bridge. Pretty tops but nothing to write home about in the tone department. I must prefer the Plus Deluxe if you are looking for a hot rodded strat.
 

Lt Dak

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,008
I love the Plus and Plus Deluxe but never could find an Ultra worth keeping. Most I've played are very heavy and I never really cared for the faux "humbucker" and always kept it in single coil mode in the bridge. Pretty tops but nothing to write home about in the tone department. I must prefer the Plus Deluxe if you are looking for a hot rodded strat.
I bought one from a collector. It was on great condition, save the refret I had to do. Gorgeous guitar that i didn't really bond with for some of the above reasons. If they were 1k, I'd pick up another. 2k is steep to me

Pluses, on the other hand, I absolutely love. I have 2.
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,502
Imho, the ebony boards, maple veneer tops and heavy weight made them very bright, yet thin sounding.... I used to sell them..
 

corn husk bag

Member
Messages
4,244
I have Plusses and Ultras, each guitar is great on its own merits. I will say this, I love the ebony neck on the Ultras!

Steve
 

Texsunburst59

Member
Messages
4,911
Never run into an older Fender Strat Ultra.

I do however have 3 Fender '90 Strat Plus's that are amazing.

They are some of my most versatile guitars

Great guitars for sure.
 
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misterg71

The premier Hack Guitarist
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,546
I had one back in '96, I believe it was a '92 model. From what I remember, it was a pretty versatile guitar. It had the Lace Sensor pickups which seemed to be unpopular, people would say they were "sterile" sounding. The bridge featured two Red Lace Sensors that were put in a 1 above 1 below fashion, making look like a full size HB. The Red models were supposed to be a High output Humbucker sound, so it was like 2 HB's in the bridge. The mini toggle switch allowed the bridge pickup(s) to be used together or you could select either one separately. I do remember I didn't care for the sound of the 2 bridge pups used together. I bought mine at Elderly Instruments, and at the time it sold for $650. It was in mint condition (as it was only 4 years old), and fairly interesting. No way I'd pony-up 2k for one. The Floyd Rose Classic Strat was a better high performance Strat option. I still have the original pickguard from the Ultra.
 

johnnyb128

Member
Messages
1,351
I had one back in '96, I believe it was a '92 model. From what I remember, it was a pretty versatile guitar. It had the Lace Sensor pickups which seemed to be unpopular, people would say they were "sterile" sounding. The bridge featured two Red Lace Sensors that were put in a 1 above 1 below fashion, making look like a full size HB. The Red models were supposed to be a High output Humbucker sound, so it was like 2 HB's in the bridge. The mini toggle switch allowed the bridge pickup(s) to be used together or you could select either one separately. I do remember I didn't care for the sound of the 2 bridge pups used together. I bought mine at Elderly Instruments, and at the time it sold for $650. It was in mint condition (as it was only 4 years old), and fairly interesting. No way I'd pony-up 2k for one. The Floyd Rose Classic Strat was a better high performance Strat option. I still have the original pickguard from the Ultra.
I have a '90 Plus that had Lace pickups and I remember the general consensus in the mid 90s was they sucked (sterile like you said). If you check around now, even in this very forum, there's a lot of love for them, like they're magic pickups, spoken about with much reverence. I still think they don't sound good and replaced them last year with Areas. It is funny how popular opinion shifts over time.

OP, all I can say is that my Plus is a fantastic guitar so I'd be surprised if the Ultra isn't as well.
 

John Hurtt

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
18,794
I had a "blueburst" Ultra. Loved the ebony board, but the transparent blue maple turned to an ugly green color.
 

tealsixtysix

Member
Messages
634
Current prices aren't a surprise, IMO. They're comparable (in terms of features) to a new American Elite Strat, but with nicer ebony than Fender can get now and (often) prettier finishes. I'm a fan.

If and when I run across a nice clean Ultra Strat in Firestorm that isn't ridiculous money, I'll give it a home.
 

skydog

Member
Messages
12,300
I always felt the Ultras and Plusses were the best looking Strats; best sounding, not so much.
 

Guitar Josh

Resident Curmudgeon
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
18,802
Current prices aren't a surprise, IMO. They're comparable (in terms of features) to a new American Elite Strat, but with nicer ebony than Fender can get now and (often) prettier finishes. I'm a fan.

If and when I run across a nice clean Ultra Strat in Firestorm that isn't ridiculous money, I'll give it a home.
I think I saw one at Ben's Ye Old When Pigs Fly Emporium and Haberdashery :D
 

exodus

Member
Messages
1,826
Are the necks basically the contour of an American Standard? My recollection is that they (Standards) get kind of flat (rather than a "C" shape) around the 12th fret.
 

Lt Dak

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,008
Are the necks basically the contour of an American Standard? My recollection is that they (Standards) get kind of flat (rather than a "C" shape) around the 12th fret.
I've played about a dozen over the years, and the necks vary. Generally, they are a C. I have one 89 that is a medium C, and another that is almost a soft v. The ultra I sold was a little flatter. I've played a few that had more substantial fat necks.

I feel like the earlier pluses and ultras varied more and later in the run was more consistent.
 

jape

Member
Messages
996
If people are willing to pay $2K+ for these, somebody thinks they are pretty great. I wouldn't pay that much for one. I had a Strat Plus & would love to have another someday, but the price would need to be lower than the current market prices.

I think the issue with the Plus & Ultras has always been the Lace Sensor pickups. If you buy one of these expecting them to sound like a 'normal' Strat, you will probably be disappointed. Luckily, there are thousands of options to get that sound.

If you buy one of these knowing that the pickups are unique you'll most likely be happier. I think the lace sensors work better for higher gain sounds - think Bob Mould or the Radiohead guys. Wasn't Clapton using his Lace Sensor model when he was playing Soldano's with a bit more gain? I can't remember.

I say if you have one - raise those pickups way up right next to the strings & crank the gain! :) If you want to sound like Mark Knopfler on Sultans of Swing, keep a 2nd 'standard' Strat for that sound.
 

Matt L

Member
Messages
11,503
This was one of my dream guitars when I was a kid. It was the fanciest, most exotic Strat I'd seen.
 




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