For a first-time buyer, a guitar purchase can be an all-around intimidating experience. As a return buyer, however, that confusion manifests itself in different ways. “Do I want to expand my collection?” “Am I just looking for another ‘knock-around’ axe?” “Am I looking to upgrade?” And as much as you stare at 100 feet of in-store slat-wall and pour over player forums, ultimately your decision will boil down to one thing: Is that instrument going to be personal to you? The American Standard series of guitars and basses is often where that conversation starts. With all the classic Fender styling you love, ample romping ground for mods and a bevy of player-friendly upgrades, they’re premier personality guitars and basses for any player, allowing you to express your own style and voice with ease.
Still not convinced? There’s plenty of reasons that American Standard instruments persevere as sound solutions for any demanding player in search of stage- and studio-worthy instruments, but here are five to make that decision that much easier.
1. IT’S PERSONAL TO US, TOO.
Since we introduced the original American Standard in 1986, it’s been just as reflective of our personality as it has been for its legions of followers. Were we reinventing ourselves? Saluting our humble origins? At the time, we were simply building a better mousetrap. Ever the advocate of consistency, Leo Fender never believed in changing a good thing, and American Standard embodies those beliefs to this day. Our philosophy is simple: Hone the best Fender features but evolve and refine as the musical landscape requires. The desire to keep innovating is inherently a special part of the Fender legacy. To us, American Standard not only embodied what a Fender guitar is, but continues to set example for what an electric guitar should be as we continue to stay true to its core yet enhance its feature set for the modern player.
2. BUDDY HOLLY PLAYED ONE. SO DID JIMI HENDRIX.
Naysayers might object that the American Standard series was introduced decades after Holly’s Stratocaster debut on the The Ed Sullivan Show or Hendrix’ fiery display at the Monterey Pop Festival. However, the idea of a “quintessential” Fender guitar is an idea that existed long before the introduction of the American Standard series at the 1986 NAMM Show. Even with its modern-day armaments, the American Standard instrument is in form and function directly inspired by the production models Holly and Hendrix played in their day. Were they to have walked into a music store in the early ’50s or mid ’60s, the production model Fender guitars on the wall were, in essence, the “standards” of that time. The American Standard is instilled with 60 years of artist feedback, but also epitomizes the longstanding ideal of “the one”—the go-to professional-grade guitar that has clearly stood the test of time throughout multiple genres and eras.
3. THE COLLECTION IS EXPANDING.
Fortunately, in recent years, the American Standard collection has taken on several new incarnations, expanding the breadth of the line and offering plenty of new options for players. Take for example, the American Standard HSS Shawbucker Stratocaster, which offers a newly designed humbucking bridge pickup created by esteemed designer Tim Shaw alongside a duo of model-standard Custom Shop single-coil pickups at the neck and bridge. A pair of models flanked with seismic-sounding humbucking pickups offers tons of throaty tone in the form of the American Standard Stratocaster HH, and American Standard Telecaster HH. Longtime Fender bassists in search of something new can revel in the sleek shape and flexible controls of the American Standard Dimension Bass V.
4. THAT NECK.
While Fender’s intent was to keep the American Standard relatively unchanged, it’s safe to say there were ample refinements made to cater to the changing playing styles that emerged as music evolved. Among some of the most evident are those made to the neck of the instrument—now constructed from two pieces of wood to enhance stability during any performance. Capping that rock-solid maple is a 9.5” radius fingerboard—a flatter design created to accommodate more demanding playing techniques such as bending and searing leads. In true artisan fashion, the edges of the fingerboard are hand-rolled for optimal playing comfort, adorned with hand-seated frets for optimal fretting-hand feel. Plus, the headstock on recent American Standard Strat® models sport enhancements as well—a set of staggered Fender tuning machines for a greater string angle that improves performance and helps eliminate buzz.
5. THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR HANDMADE.
More than 100: That’s how many steps are invested in every American Standard instrument, all of which are made fresh daily at our Corona, Calif., factory. Features and tone aside, there’s simply no denying the love, attentiveness and passion invested in every single aspect of an American Standard instrument. The expressive flexibility of that two-point American Standard Stratocaster tremolo bridge? It’s a direct result of meticulous hand shaping and polishing. The resonance of a smooth alder or ash body, set off by a glistening polyurethane finish? Each one was dutifully applied with care so as to ensure each one embodies pure Fender feel and tone. Your American Standard instrument is an investment for life because we’re invested in its creation every step of the way—and that’s what truly matters.