Is the American Special Stratocaster the best Strat Fender makes right now?

Fender American Special Stratocaster in Surf Green

If I were in the market for an American Stratocaster right now, my choice would be the Fender American Special Stratocaster in Surf Green, for the following reasons:

  1. 6-screw bridge and not the dopey 2-point.
  2. Maple neck and fretboard
  3. Big CBS-style headstock
  4. Surf green

There are a few things however I don't like about it.

It has jumbo frets. I prefer medium-jumbo.

It has 2 string trees and I greatly prefer just a single tree for the 1 and 2 string, because with a second string tree it's pretty much guaranteed I'll be "kinking" the 3 string, as in the G string; I bend that string a lot.

It's a 22-fret. I prefer 21.

Are these things I could deal with concerning this Strat? Mostly.

I could deal with the 2 string trees and deal with the 22-fret. As for the jumbo-sized frets however, that I'm not sure of.

The last Fender Strat I had came with jumbo frets, and it's part of the reason I got rid of it.

Some players out there really like jumbo frets for the reason you can solo easier on them; that much is true. You might be a player that loves the big fret wire. If so, that's fine.

But for my playing style, they're a buzzy nightmare.

What I don't know is how much of a difference there is between American jumbo frets and non-American jumbo. They might be thicker or thinner or wider or skinner. I'm just not sure.

I've never had the opportunity to try an American Special Stratocaster because they're never around here in Tampa Bay Florida even in the high-traffic guitar stores I go to. If I wanted to try one, I'd have to buy one. Yeah, I'd get the 30-day satisfaction guarantee so I could return the thing if I wanted and get my money back. But the point is that I'd have to plunk down almost a grand just to try it.

I have tried a Fender Standard Stratocaster in Arctic White with maple fretboard, and I was really close to buying it. Really nice 21-fret neck, the 6-screw bridge I like, and smaller medium jumbo frets. Good stuff. But it had a small finish crack at the neck pocket, and I could see a noticeable space where the neck met the body (bad pocket fit), so that was a no-go.

Would I recommend the American Special Stratocaster?

Even though I haven't tried the Special, if you just have to have an American Fender guitar for whatever reason, yes I'd recommend it.

It's the only reasonably (and by that I mean barely reasonably) priced American Fender Strat out there, and the fact it comes in Surf Green is a rare find on any American Fender guitar. That alone makes it a good buy because it will be worth more later.

This particular guitar only comes in 3 colors. Surf Green, 2-Color Sunburst and Candy Apple Red. Surf and Sunburst are the best two. Candy Apple Red on a Strat... eh, not really.

I own a Jazzmaster in Candy Apple Red, and that color works well on that guitar. But I know it doesn't work on a Strat. CAR is a color that has metallic flake in it and makes a Strat look "plasticky". It is not the famous Fiesta Red, nor is it the darker non-metallic Dakota Red as can be seen on the Classic Series '65 Mustang.

If the American Special Strat was offered in Dakota Red, oh yeah, I'd tell you to snap that right up because that color with a maple neck and fretboard is great combo. But unfortunately CAR is the color and not Dakota.

Go with Surf or Sunburst. Both are good. But the Surf is obviously the more eye-catching because you never see it on Strats.

On a final note, the pickups in the Special are the Texas Special set. How do those sound? They'll be ridiculously bright (as in trebly) at first until you play the guitar for a while to break them in, as they do have alnico V magnets. It's nothing you can't handle as long as you know that up front.

Published 2014 Mar 20