Cost: $1999.99 new, find your own on Reverb.com
Huge thanks to Heather from Fender for sending this over for review!
Overview and Final Score: 9.5
The addition of the S1 switch adds a ton of versatility to the Ultra Stratocaster, as it cuts some of the highs on the 1 and 2 positions. You end up with a warm, more rounded tone that sounded great for rhythm sections or bluesy lead lines. The only complaint was that I felt a minor drop off in volume when switching between these two settings. Otherwise the Ultra Stratocaster went from blues to rock to country with ease and it was pretty inspiring to have those classic Strat tones in a more playable, comfortable package.
The tone and volume knobs were also super sensitive, providing another easy way to tweak tone here and there. I went from John Mayer’s tone to Buddy Holly sounds in no time. I feel like the real sweet spot on this Ultra Stratocaster is the classic Strat in-between sounds, the 2nd and 4th positions. Which for me is perfect because if I’m going to spend a lot of money on a premium Strat with “modern” features, I still want that classic Stratocaster tone, I’m not buying a Suhr or Ibanez for a reason.
As expected, the action and set up was perfect out of the box, which it should be at this price point. The guitar is also well balanced between the neck and body, and very comfortable thanks to the classic body contour. It’s just as comfortable and familiar as any classic Fender Strat, which should put some skeptics at ease. The neck is slim for a Strat and comfortable, both thanks to the satin finish and rounded fingerboard. As someone who plays with their thumb, access to the low E string was noticeably easier and more comfortable. It’s a lot of fun moving up and down the fretboard, and the Ultra Stratocaster makes you want to play it.
Finish & Construction: 10
The Red Plasma Burst finish was stunning and was a nice change up from the classic Strat colors I usually go for like Sunburst or Candy Apple Red. Better yet, the finish seemed really strong and they were absolutely no flaws evident on the guitar, indicating good quality control and fit. It’s hard to find any flaws on this guitar and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it out on the road.
The neck is incredibly comfortable, especially with that new neck contour making higher fret reach a bit easier on the hands and wrists. Tuning stability was superb as well, as the locking tuners and 2-point synchronized trem system work well together. Even after a whammy bar bends, the tuning didn’t seem to move much, it at all. In fact, the guitar came out of the box, after travelling cross country, in perfect tune. The included hard case is about as sturdy and protective as they come and certainly makes the $2000 price tag a bit more appealing.
At first glance, I wanted to give this a lower score in the value department because I usually find guitars in the $400-$700 range to be the best bang for your buck. But after playing this premium Strat, I think the Ultra Stratocaster is one of the few high priced guitars worth it. It’s definitely a perfect fit for players who can only afford to own one premium guitar. It’s incredibly versatile in terms of how many tones it can provide, plus it’s a classic guitar design and brand that you can rely on. It still may be a bit too overpriced, you have to pay for that Fender brand name, but it’s a hell of a guitar to play and I’m really not excited to give it back to Fender. Overall, Fender’s Ultra Stratocaster is worth the hype to me, don’t let the negative YouTubers and journalists tell you otherwise, this is a fantastic Strat!