While the American Standard Stratocaster has come to be seen as a benchmark for quality, some players are looking for that little bit extra.
The American Deluxe Strat, at $400 more than the Standard, offers improved playability, locking tuners, noiseless pickups and S-1 tone switching. We'll look at the differences individually further down the page.
See the table below for a summary...
Although the main components and materials are the same, the differences lie in the more specialist hardware and electronics...
|Model||American Deluxe||American Standard|
|Weight||3.5 kg / 7 lbs 13 oz||3.6 kg / 7lbs 14 oz|
|Tuners||Deluxe Staggered (Locking)||Fender Standard Cast Staggered|
|Nut Material||Synthetic Bone|
|Fingerboard||Rosewood or Maple|
|Fingerboard Radius||9.5-14" Compound Radius||9.5"|
Black Dot (Maple)
|Pickups||Noiseless N3 Single Coil x3
with S-1 Switch
|Custom Shop Fat '50s Single Coil x3|
|Bridge||2-Point Deluxe Synchronized Tremolo with Pop-In Arm||Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles|
|American Deluxe||American Standard|
The Deluxe is technically an "optimised Standard Strat", with more than merely cosmetic differences.
Tuning stability has never been considered an issue with the American Standard. Nevertheless Fender have opted to install locking tuners on the Deluxe, giving the aggressive strummers/pickers and extreme dive-bombers that extra reassurance.
On the subject of whammy action, the tremolo arm is "pop-in" on the Deluxe, compared to the more traditional screw-in arm on the Standard. For what it's worth, the Standard does retain the vintage, "bent" saddles unlike the Deluxe.
Many players have found the Deluxe's compound radius neck more comfortable to play than the standard uniform radius necks.
Compound radius basically means the neck gets larger and flatter towards the body end, with a smaller, rounder profile at the nut.
The result is easier chording at the lower frets, easier bending higher up and overall a more consistent string height, meaning less adaptation of fingering required as you move across the neck. It's a form of compensation for how your fret work is required to change from one end of the neck to the other. So it should be an overall smoother experience.
If comfort and consistency is a priority for you, then the compound radius neck alone may make the Deluxe worth the extra money.
Another key difference lies in the pickups, with the Deluxe housing Noiseless N3 single coils.
If you've ever played single coils on stage or on a recording, you'll be familiar with the often overbearing hum they can emit, especially under gain/distortion. The N3's are exceptionally quiet, meaning less reliance on a noise gate, which can suck tone.
Furthermore, an array of additional tones can be attained from the Deluxe through its S-1 switch feature. Similar to the coil tapping feature you see on many humbucking models, simply press down the top of the volume knob for more tonal options from your 5-way pickup switch.
Switched on, you'll be able to dial in fatter, more humbucker-like tones - great for heavier styles. But words can't do justice what your own experimentation will yield.
The S-1 switch further re-affirms the Strat as one of (if not) the most versatile guitars available.▲ Compare Sound
For those who can afford the American Standard, paying an extra $400 to get the additional features of the Deluxe is not unreasonable.
These features - the more comfortable neck, greater tuning stability, noiseless pickups and sonic tonal possibilities atypical of a single coil Strat - are genuinely useful to the professional musician and represent a richer, more playable and wholly modernised incarnation of this classic guitar.
It's no wonder that we've found the Deluxe to be the highest rated Strat available new today.