Hello there, back again with another real, honest and long term review of Fender Standard Stratocasters which were made in Mexico back in 2013-2015. During my service in the musical instruments industry, I had countless chances to play, record and test these beautiful instruments.
In this particular review, I will be going through Fender Standard Stratocasters with maple fingerboard (SSS) and maple & rosewood fingerboard (HSS) options.
In my opinion, these guitars offered really high value for money in their era in terms of Stratocasters. The quality assurance and consistency were top notch! Even though these were a step-back model from American Standard and considered as a beginner guitar, every time we sold and tested, we did not notice any flaws! I should even confess that they were most of the times more consistent in terms of build quality in comparison to American Standards.
By the way, I have recently purchased a Fender American Standard with maple fingerboard (SSS) from this era and I am working on a full review of this instrument. So if you want to get notified when I have published it, please subscribe to my mail list so I can inform you 🙂
One thing I really about this era is that there was no problem regarding CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), this meant Fender and other companies were able to use a really nice grade of rosewood. The density, attack characteristics of the fingerboard material (for rosewood), the figures did not even feel cheap!
Fender Standard Stratocaster replaced by Fender Player Series!
These days, Fender Standard Stratocasters have been replaced by Fender Player Series which use Pau Ferro wood on the fingerboard rather than rosewood. In my opinion, fingerboard and neck material is one of the most essential parameters on an electric guitar overall sound and feel.
If you think about it, the fingerboard backed with the neck material is one of the two locations that your hands are in touch with the instrument. And if you think about your fretting hand is the only flesh of your body when you are playing your instrument, you should be able to understand the importance of this component in electric guitars.
This CITES era was really a challenging time for every guitar manufacturer since they had to come up with alternative woods that could help them get away with the limitations. However, I still miss pre-CITES era instruments, I strongly believe they had a much better value.
Let’s hear a beautiful Fender Standard Stratocaster – Candy Apple Red with SSS and maple fingerboard option here below first.
This was one of the first videos we ever recorded and you can tell by my very sloppy playing after a couple of years of staying away from guitar playing.
Again as in every electric guitar video in long format, we used a Marshall JVM205C valve amp and Shure SM57 microphone directly into an ancient thunderbolt audio interface, TC Electronic Impact Twin! 🙂 All settings on 3 different channels on the amp were set to noon as in other videos for a better comparison.
Here on the second video, I played a Fender Standard Stratocaster – Midnight Wine with HSS and maple fingerboard.
As you can hear from the videos, the HSS version offers a bit higher output since it features a humbucker pickup on the bridge which also affects the 2nd pickup position combining the bridge humbucker pickup with the middle position single pickup.
One thing I really loved about the maple fingerboard version is that it had way less lacquer than the American Standard versions had. It wasn’t satin or unfinished, however, it was way thinner and you could easily notice that just by looking at it.
In this next video, I played a Fender Standard Stratocaster – Midnight Wine with HSS and this time rosewood fingerboard.
Another thing I really miss about Fender’s approach in that era was the colour options! I must say I really dislike Fender’s choice these days. ut, of course, it is just a personal preference.
As I have mentioned already, I was a big fan of Fender Standard Strats of that era and really confused if I should go for an American Standard or just Standard with pickup upgrade. I’m saying this because the pickups were the only problem with this instrument. I never really liked how they sounded, they were pretty close sounding and not so very well responsive. But this would be pretty normal if you consider its price range.
What has changed so far with Fender’s Mexico made Stratocasters?
There are actually a couple of things that have changed with the new Fender Player Strats in comparison to Fender Standard Strats.
I just spent some time on this table, dived into Fender’s archives and came up with this comparison table. As you can easily see, the fingerboard material for Rosewood has been changed to Pau Ferro, the number of frets is now 22.
The pickups have changed as well as the controls (electronics) and pickup selector configuration on the HSS version.
Fender used some terms such as inner coil for the 2nd position on an HSS option, but instead of explaining it, I wanted to provide screenshots from the service manuals.
Last but not least, the tremolo has been changed to a 2 point one from a 6 point one.
Fender Standard Strat vs Fender Player Strat Comparison Table
|Body||Fender Standard Stratocaster||Fender Player Series Stratocaster|
|Body Finish||Gloss Polyester||Gloss Polyester|
|Neck Finish||Satin Finish on Back, Gloss Finish on Front||Satin Finish on Back, Gloss Finish on Front|
|Neck Shape||Modern "C"||Modern "C"|
|Scale Length||25.5" (648 mm)||25.5" (648 mm)|
|Fingerboard Material||Maple or Rosewood||Maple or Pau Ferro|
|Fingerboard Radius||9.5" (241 mm)||9.5" (241 mm)|
|Number Of Frets||21||22|
|Fret Size||Medium Jumbo||Medium Jumbo|
|Nut Material||Synthetic Bone||Synthetic Bone|
|Nut Width||1.650" (42 mm)||1.650" (42 mm)|
|Position Inlays||Black Dot on Maple, White Dot on Rosewood||Black Dot on Maple, White Dot on Pau Ferro|
|Pickups||Standard Single-Coil Strat or Standard Humbucker in the bridge||Player Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil or Player Series Alnico 2 Humbucker in the bridge|
|Controls||Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 2. (Middle Pickup)||Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck/Middle Pickups), Tone 2. (Bridge Pickup)|
|Switching - for HSS|
|Switching - for SSS||1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup, Position 3. Middle Pickup, Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup, Position 5. Neck Pickup||1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup, Position 3. Middle Pickup, Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup, Position 5. Neck Pickup|
|Bridge||6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo||2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles|
|Tuning Machines||Standard Cast/Sealed||Standard Cast/Sealed|
|Pickguard||3-Ply Parchment||3-Ply Parchment|
|Control Knobs||White Plastic||Parchment Plastic|
|Neck Plate||4-Bolt Standard||4-Bolt with "F" Logo|
|Strings||Fender® USA Bullets® 3250L, NPS, (.009-.042 Gauges)||Fender® USA 250L Nickel-Plated Steel (.009-.042 Gauges)|
According to these side by side specs, the vibe of the instrument is not that different than a previous version if you consider neck profile, body shape, scale length…etc So I strongly believe you would have a similar playing sensation with the Fender Player Stratocasters.
I hope it’s been an insightful article for you to compare how many changes have been made to Mexico made Strats. I would highly recommend you to check out HSS or SSS versions of Fender Player Strats at Thomann with other fingerboard options as well as bundled versions that feature a gig-bag with the guitar!
Thanks for your time and see you in the next article! 🙂