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Rich buys a 2012 Fender Modern Player Stratocaster HSS (with extra info)

Fender Modern Player Stratocaster HSS

For the second time in my life, I have bought a Fender guitar. Okay, well that's not entirely accurate. The first true Fender Stratocaster I ever owned was bought for me by my father in 1993 USA Standard for an 18th birthday present. I still own that guitar but it has a busted neck that needs replacement. However the new guitar I just purchased, the 2012 Fender Modern Player Stratocaster HSS, I bought myself today.

The MP HSS is the lowest-cost Fender-branded Stratocaster that currently exists. It is "Crafted in China", meaning it's a China-made guitar. Being it is part of the Modern Player series, it is distinctively different compared to a normal Strat concerning the way it operates.

Here's a video I made about this guitar:

And here's the stuff I didn't mention or didn't mention well enough:

Being this is the lowest-priced Fender Strat, it's inexpensive. In fact, it's even less expensive than some upper-end Squier guitars. I did not pay anywhere near full price for this because I traded in my acoustic guitar for it being that I never played it, and the fact the Modern Player Strat just dropped in price by 25 bucks on top of the steep discount most retailers are giving the guitar now.

My guess is that Fender is having a hard time selling China-made Fender-branded guitars. For some reason people think "China" means "junk". That's not the case here.

I've read in a few places that people think this guitar is nothing more than an upper-end Squier with a Fender label on it. I don't agree with this for several reasons:

  1. There is no Strat in Squier's lineup that comes anywhere close to the features the Modern Player offers.
  2. The frets are perfect. No sharp edges, no surprises.
  3. Proper Strat profile and not the "slim" version.
  4. Proper Fender details everywhere from truss rod hole to neck bolt plate.
  5. Premium dot inlays.
  6. A far superior cut of maple for the neck compared to Squier brand (you can see this the moment you look at it).
  7. Proper tight neck fitting with no obvious gaps in the neck pocket.

The Modern Player Strat is definitely all Fender all around and significantly upgraded compared to Squier brand. Most people would give this guitar a miss just because of its country of origin - and that's just fine because it means I got a better deal on it.

The Modern Player gives you 7 different tones, and does it in an interesting way. Tone 2 is a push-pull that splits the humbucker to a single-coil, so that means you have the following pickup selections:

Tone 1 (middle knob) controls the tone for the middle and neck pickup. Tone 2 (bottom knob) controls the bridge alone. This is very different from a Standard in the respect that the bridge is usually "always on 10" (not affected by tone control whatsoever), the middle is controlled by Tone 2 and the neck is controlled by Tone 1.

The bridge humbucker does have adjustable screws on the outer coil near the bridge, which means you can adjust it manually to have staggered-style poles if you want - and that's a very nice touch. Fender didn't have to do that, but did anyway offering the player even more control over the sound.

The dot inlays are off-white, which looks like vintage clay color, and they're perfect. When you run your finger over them, you absolutely cannot feel the edge of any dot. This is something normally reserved for premium Fender guitars, but it's standard on the Modern Player.

Pickups are definitely better than Squier. There's more top and bottom end, and fortunately this is controlled easily with the tone knobs.

All the knobs have a nice curve to them, meaning no "jumpy" nature when adjusting volume or tone.

I honestly didn't think the guitar was going to be as good as it is. The Modern Player HSS is a total "sleeper" Strat. For all intents and purposes you could call this a "Basic SuperStrat" and that would be accurate.

The Modern Player may be a Chinese Fender, but there's no way this could be called a Squier with a Fender label on it. It's total Fender all the way around, the quality is there, and is definitely deserved of the Fender brand label.

Published 2012 Nov 18

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