Review: Fender Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)


Fender may be on their eleven-billionth Stratocaster model, but there’s actually a method to their model madness.

This Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster is a perfect example. “Deluxe” means upgrades and innovations above and beyond the standard Strat features, and “Roadhouse” means that it’s rough and ready for gigging while being affordably priced, so you won’t mind when you need to use it to El Kabong the drunk hooligan who keeps reaching toward your Tube Screamer’s control knobs.

Yes, it’s still the Strat that guitarists know and love, but with something a little different designed for the needs of today’s performing players.

With its oversized “CBS-era” headstock, 22-fret maple neck, synchronized tremolo with vintage-style bent steel saddles, and three single-coil pickups, the Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster looks like a classic Strat that nods towards the late Sixties in overall vibe.

However, befitting its Deluxe name it includes numerous performance upgrades, including Vintage Noiseless pickups, locking tuning machines, a contoured neck heel and custom electronics that are engaged with a pushbutton S-1 switch built into the master volume control knob and consist of a preamp and a six-position V6 rotary switch replacing the middle tone knob. When the S-1 switch engages the preamp, six different and distinct tone settings are available ranging from fat lead tones with enhanced midrange to shimmering rhythm tones with slinky treble.

This model’s alder body delivers classic Strat body and punch, while the maple neck provides the familiar feel of a satin polyurethane finish, modern “C” profile, 12-inch radius, 1.65-inch nut width and 25.5-inch scale length. Beyond the preamp and six-position V6 tone switch, the Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster features the standard five-position pickup selector switch with the usual settings and master volume and tone knobs. If you want traditional Strat sounds, just bypass the preamp, but if you need more variety the preamp and six additional tone settings are just a button push away.

The basic tone of the Deluxe Roadhouse Strat (with the S-1 switch depressed) is comparable to most other present day Strat models, with a pronounced midrange honk, treble sparkle, and round, percussive bass. When the S-1 switch is up, the output level jumps up by a few dB. In this mode the V6 switch plays a significant role in the overall tone. With the switch at the setting similar to turning the tone control to “10,” the midrange is fat and enhanced. As the settings are turned down, the midrange is progressively scooped down and treble and bass frequencies become more prominent.


• The S-1 and V6 switches make it easy to quickly change the guitar’s tonal character dramatically, from fat midrange to sparkling treble.

• Vintage Noiseless single-coil pickups provide classic Strat tone with midrange honk, treble sparkle, and percussive bass but without any noise or hum.

The Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster is a gig-worthy guitar for players who need a variety of Strat tones at their fingertips, but its noise- and hum-free performance makes it an ideal studio tool as well.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.