Introducing The American Ultra Series | Fender

Messages
53
I can completely understand those who would have hoped for more with this. But the reason Fender goes with incremental tweaks probably has a lot to do with maintaining the fundamental look and character of their instruments. Most buy a Fender because they want a Fender, not a Superstrat or a shredder. And, as John Suhr has pointed out, features like SS frets just aren’t practical for the kinds of production numbers we’re talking about with a company that size. And that’s just one complaint. It wouldn’t be hard to go down most of the list and counter each objection. Colors? It’s all about what will sell the most units, not what a handful of guys on a forum wants. I’ve read Fender sells more black Strats than any other color, and it’s one of my least favorite choices, so there ya go. (I don’t know if that’s still the case but it was for decades).

I think the most legitimate complaint would be that you can buy something like a MIK Schecter with similar features for a quarter of the price. But the bottom line for many will be that it wouldn’t be a MIA Fender. Chances are there are a lot of Fender fans who will be glad to see some of these features on their favorite brand.

Who knows how well these will sell. Maybe they’ll flop. But I’m betting they’ll be at least a modest success. And maybe the feedback Fender gets will help inform the next incarnation.
The Ultra is the vanguard of the line. They try new things out and either discard them or incrementally tweak them with each new design. Think of it as you would the Corvette to the Chevrolet line. A lot of the ideas trickle down to the cheaper lines eventually.
 

Adelbatross

Member
Messages
288
Interesting - so that means we should be looking at a replacement for the American Professionals about this time next year (they came out in December 2016).
Going back to the article, he references specially some areas the company has improved on: “We've upped our game and upped our pace in product innovation. We cut our life cycle for products to four years as opposed to seven”. So I think I misinterpreted that. I think what he meant was specially the R&D on new guitars, so it will take 4 years for a new design to see the light of day as opposed to 7. My bad.

Here’s a link to the full article if you’re interested in having a read: https://reverb.com/news/interview-f...m_campaign=blog-andymooney&utm_content=guitar
 

John C

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,985
Going back to the article, he references specially some areas the company has improved on: “We've upped our game and upped our pace in product innovation. We cut our life cycle for products to four years as opposed to seven”. So I think I misinterpreted that. I think what he meant was specially the R&D on new guitars, so it will take 4 years for a new design to see the light of day as opposed to 7. My bad.

Here’s a link to the full article if you’re interested in having a read: https://reverb.com/news/interview-f...m_campaign=blog-andymooney&utm_content=guitar
I read through the article; it is hard to say if he's talking about the R&D time or the lifespan of the product itself. But it would explain the American Ultras hitting the streets roughly 4 years after the American Elites were released.
 

edward

Supporting Member
Messages
4,386
I think at new prices, these Ultras are out of hand. But at used street prices, they may be worth a go. Afterall, the specs still present themselves as a nice guit. So if the price is adjusted, why not. But new? ...there's no there, there!

Edward
 

Husky

Member
Messages
11,736
Life cycle usually means the effective life of the product until people drastically slow down buying that product. It takes them 2-3 years to R&D an electronics product and guitars are usually much easier and less time. 7 years R&D would be really silly for a guitar as is 4. But I’d think they want the product to validate a long life cycle otherwise things sound disposable and most people want to know their model instrument won’t get replaced. Remember that a lot of guys like me are doing their own design work and are doing other things in the shop as well. They have design teams working full time on new products.

10% of sales towards marketing? Wow that’s a lot of coin. Maybe Namm budget is in that but wow.

https://images.app.goo.gl/LRrFGVyuq6jUYFDMA
Definition of 'Product Life Cycle' Definition: Product life cycle (PLC) is the cycle through which every product goes through from introduction to withdrawal or eventual demise.

Going back to the article, he references specially some areas the company has improved on: “We've upped our game and upped our pace in product innovation. We cut our life cycle for products to four years as opposed to seven”. So I think I misinterpreted that. I think what he meant was specially the R&D on new guitars, so it will take 4 years for a new design to see the light of day as opposed to 7. My bad.

Here’s a link to the full article if you’re interested in having a read: https://reverb.com/news/interview-f...m_campaign=blog-andymooney&utm_content=guitar
 
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Messages
53
I think at new prices, these Ultras are out of hand. But at used street prices, they may be worth a go. Afterall, the specs still present themselves as a nice guit. So if the price is adjusted, why not. But new? ...there's no there, there!

Edward
Aren't they about the same price as the Elites?
 
Messages
750
Wow, kind of surprised at all the negativity in this thread

I'm in the market for a new tele and am trying to decide between a pro and an ultra. I used to have an american deluxe and the compound radius really made that guitar for me. Binding, tummy cut, and the S2 system were all big pluses to me as well. Obviously kind of leaning towards an ultra with all that in mind.
 
Messages
23,814
Wow, kind of surprised at all the negativity in this thread

I'm in the market for a new tele and am trying to decide between a pro and an ultra. I used to have an american deluxe and the compound radius really made that guitar for me. Binding, tummy cut, and the S2 system were all big pluses to me as well. Obviously kind of leaning towards an ultra with all that in mind.
FMIC pushed hard, to create a lot of excitement around the Elite when it came out. People put their money down, assuming really that FMIC would continue to support the product. You appear doing shows with the product; you lend your imprimatur to the product.

Then FMIC abruptly pulls the plug on the whole thing. Customers are made to look dumb. The product they paid so much for, is suddenly last week's shrimp. I mean, if you're trying to be a trend setter.

TGP is a sophisticated place. Everyone here, I hope, understands the new Ultra will not be garbage. It is a workmanlike product that may suit some folks perfectly. But I would say we're all entitled here to let FMIC know when we feel imposed upon. When guys on this board have FMIC's back, they're entitled to express frustration if they feel whipsawed by FMIC.

I don't think anyone is telling you "don't buy this, as it is junk". No, the message is, in a world of excellent choices, why this course of action?

In a world where people could probably gig various models of Squiers, I think FMIC has a duty to make the ownership experience for its higher end customers as close to perfect as possible.
 
Messages
750
FMIC pushed hard, to create a lot of excitement around the Elite when it came out. People put their money down, assuming really that FMIC would continue to support the product. You appear doing shows with the product; you lend your imprimatur to the product.

Then FMIC abruptly pulls the plug on the whole thing. Customers are made to look dumb. The product they paid so much for, is suddenly last week's shrimp. I mean, if you're trying to be a trend setter.

TGP is a sophisticated place. Everyone here, I hope, understands the new Ultra will not be garbage. It is a workmanlike product that may suit some folks perfectly. But I would say we're all entitled here to let FMIC know when we feel imposed upon. When guys on this board have FMIC's back, they're entitled to express frustration if they feel whipsawed by FMIC.

I don't think anyone is telling you "don't buy this, as it is junk". No, the message is, in a world of excellent choices, why this course of action?

In a world where people could probably gig various models of Squiers, I think FMIC has a duty to make the ownership experience for its higher end customers as close to perfect as possible.
I guess I'm just not really seeing how the replacement of a product line is a slap in the face to the owners of said product line :dunno And I certainly don't see how it would make customers look dumb

Two of my favorite guitars I've ever owned (Les Paul sig T, and american deluxe tele) were both discontinued within a year of me getting them, but I bought them because the specs and feel were what I was after, not any sort of prestige. Even so if it was about showing off the fact that they were discontinued would almost heighten that perhaps... makes it more special almsot to me

But obviously I just don't get it and I've always known I'm not on the same page as quite a few TGPers lol
 

qblue

Member
Messages
1,036
The OLD Ultra’s where brilliant guitars, it’s funny how the most advanced current production proper strat with anything “Leo” involved is The G&L Legacy/S500
I have a 91 Ultra! F fender!
Yeah I too have my 1990 Strat Ultra. While it has a modern C neck, it has a black ebony board. This is still my number one Strat, because it embodied a spirit of
the new FMIC, one that never again wanted bankruptcy, due to lack of attention to detail and QC. It was the best production line Strat, built with input from the fledgling custom shop at that time. Well this new leaner & meaner FMIC just wants you to pay more money for the Fender name and QC, which hasn't waned in the last 35 years.

The current SSS and HSS Ultra Strats are seriously different, to my ears. The HSS has higher output pickups by my listening, and still sounds like the discontinued Elite and my Lace sensor equipped 1990 Strat Ultra. The SSS Strat Ultra has lower output twangy pickups, a more old-school approach....similar to my 1970 Strat, but without the stupid noise. My old Strat Ultra HSS has a 5-way switch, but has a #3 position that uses both the bridge and neck pickups. While this Strat Ultra doesn't have a S-1 switch, it makes up for it with a 3-way toggle for SC/HB/SC switching of the Red Dually humbucker. This toggle makes the guitar into 2 types of SSS and an HSS guitar: but I still can't
activate all 3 pickups, like the new SSS Ultra. This leads me to suspect that the SSS has new pickups and the HSS is an Elite in a elevated price point.

I don't what all the fuss is about SS frets. Medium jumbo frets really hold up well, because they are medium in size, unlike those vintage versions in the 50's thru 70's, which do not. Fingerboards usually don't make much of a difference in sound, but in looks. I am a fan of rosewood and ebony, and the Strats I have reflect this. I am a fan of the wheel on the truss rod, because it requires little thought to fix. I'm always wondering where is my hex wrench or a screwdriver for neck tweaks. The lack of this feature is regressive.

AS for the contour changes, this is only new for Fender. This 'innovation' is something Gibson (LP DC), Ibanez, and others have brought to the table, but new for Fender.

As for things I like, the Jazzmaster Ultra is as close to a homerun in baseball, that Fender has produced. To me keeping the rhythm circuit, opting to change a few things about it to modernize the instrument, makes sense. The S1 is used to change the middle switch position from parallel to series, is all you really need. To me this sounds like a Strat and a Baja Tele with even more choices. The bound neck is really nice, but it needs a 22nd Fret, if someone were to ask me! These are the first noiseless pickups made for the Jazzmaster.

I also like the Tele Ultra with the bound body to be just plain sexy. The jury is still out on the bridge pickup. IMHO, a Tele has to have a basic bridge pickup, with a tone control, that allows you to obtain an infinite number of sounds. The neck pickup sounds delicious to me.

I think I will enjoy the D shaped neck. The bigger shoulders will satisfy my need for more girth, hopefully more than the cramp inducing modern C neck I've endured for nearly 30 years on the 1990 Strat Ultra that I have.
 

valvestate

Member
Messages
2,044
I hope they release additional colors to choose from. So far only the Cobra Blue is enticing but I already have that similar MIJ color.

If they can release like Shell Pink, Daphne Blue, Surf Green or other vintage colors that will be PERFECT!!
 

John C

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,985
Yeah I too have my 1990 Strat Ultra. While it has a modern C neck, it has a black ebony board. This is still my number one Strat, because it embodied a spirit of
the new FMIC, one that never again wanted bankruptcy, due to lack of attention to detail and QC. It was the best production line Strat, built with input from the fledgling custom shop at that time. Well this new leaner & meaner FMIC just wants you to pay more money for the Fender name and QC, which hasn't waned in the last 35 years.

The current SSS and HSS Ultra Strats are seriously different, to my ears. The HSS has higher output pickups by my listening, and still sounds like the discontinued Elite and my Lace sensor equipped 1990 Strat Ultra. The SSS Strat Ultra has lower output twangy pickups, a more old-school approach....similar to my 1970 Strat, but without the stupid noise. My old Strat Ultra HSS has a 5-way switch, but has a #3 position that uses both the bridge and neck pickups. While this Strat Ultra doesn't have a S-1 switch, it makes up for it with a 3-way toggle for SC/HB/SC switching of the Red Dually humbucker. This toggle makes the guitar into 2 types of SSS and an HSS guitar: but I still can't
activate all 3 pickups, like the new SSS Ultra. This leads me to suspect that the SSS has new pickups and the HSS is an Elite in a elevated price point.

I don't what all the fuss is about SS frets. Medium jumbo frets really hold up well, because they are medium in size, unlike those vintage versions in the 50's thru 70's, which do not. Fingerboards usually don't make much of a difference in sound, but in looks. I am a fan of rosewood and ebony, and the Strats I have reflect this. I am a fan of the wheel on the truss rod, because it requires little thought to fix. I'm always wondering where is my hex wrench or a screwdriver for neck tweaks. The lack of this feature is regressive.

AS for the contour changes, this is only new for Fender. This 'innovation' is something Gibson (LP DC), Ibanez, and others have brought to the table, but new for Fender.

As for things I like, the Jazzmaster Ultra is as close to a homerun in baseball, that Fender has produced. To me keeping the rhythm circuit, opting to change a few things about it to modernize the instrument, makes sense. The S1 is used to change the middle switch position from parallel to series, is all you really need. To me this sounds like a Strat and a Baja Tele with even more choices. The bound neck is really nice, but it needs a 22nd Fret, if someone were to ask me! These are the first noiseless pickups made for the Jazzmaster.

I also like the Tele Ultra with the bound body to be just plain sexy. The jury is still out on the bridge pickup. IMHO, a Tele has to have a basic bridge pickup, with a tone control, that allows you to obtain an infinite number of sounds. The neck pickup sounds delicious to me.

I think I will enjoy the D shaped neck. The bigger shoulders will satisfy my need for more girth, hopefully more than the cramp inducing modern C neck I've endured for nearly 30 years on the 1990 Strat Ultra that I have.
Hard to pick some of this out because the font color changed, but per the specs you are correct that the HSS American Ultra has different pickups than the SSS American Ultra - the Fender webpage on the HSS version specifically says "Ultra Noiseless Hot Strat" single coils while the SSS says "Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat" pickups. So yes, the singles are hotter to run with the humbucker. Fender did this back on the original American Deluxes of 1998 - the SSS model had 2 vintage-output Noiseless pickups and a slightly hotter one in the bridge; they used 2 of the bridge Noiseless pickups as the neck/middle of the HSS because they were using their old DH1 humbucker which was pretty much a Distortion/JB level pickup.
 

Peppy

Member
Messages
6,816
I seem to be in the minority here, but I find the ‘mocha burst’ to be very handsome...then again, I’ve always loved the Antigua burst strats from the late 70s, so my opinion may not be valid
Your opinion is valid. When I saw the mocha burst on line I was not enamored. Just played one (Tele) at my local shop and it looks much nicer in person. To me it would look better with less of a tint on the maple board. But again, the actual burst looks cool in person.
 




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