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Fender 75th Anniversary Stratocaster and American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS Stratocaster review

Two twists on a classic recipe that prove that 75 years of evolution have been kind on Leo's most-famous design

Fender 75th anniversary Strat
(Image: © Fender)

Our Verdict

The 75th Anniversary model delivers classic Strat tone and playability for an affordable price, while the American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS offers the ultimate modern hot-rodded experience for those who can afford to pay more.

For

  • Typically versatile electric guitars.
  • The Ultra Luxe is a high-performance Strat.
  • Extremely cool designs.
  • Matching painted headstocks, contrasting 'guards and knobs.

Against

  • No hardshell case with the 75th Anniversary model.

Guitar World Verdict

The 75th Anniversary model delivers classic Strat tone and playability for an affordable price, while the American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS offers the ultimate modern hot-rodded experience for those who can afford to pay more.

Pros

  • +

    Typically versatile electric guitars.

  • +

    The Ultra Luxe is a high-performance Strat.

  • +

    Extremely cool designs.

  • +

    Matching painted headstocks, contrasting 'guards and knobs.

Cons

  • -

    No hardshell case with the 75th Anniversary model.

(Today in Boomer Tales) Way back in the mid-'70s when I was a teen, when you walked in a music store and asked for a Stratocaster, the reply was, “Sunburst, black, white, blonde or natural?” 

Today, it will probably take the sales rep half an hour to rattle off all of the available models even before getting into finish options. Fender currently offers more than 50 Strat models, including three Acoustasonic acoustic-electrics and artist signature guitars representing every imaginable style of music.

Simply put, a Strat is an essential instrument that every guitarist should own. Whether you don’t have one already or are thinking of getting another one, the two new models we looked at – the 75th Anniversary Stratocaster and American Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS – offer procrastinators persuasive motivation to hit the “buy” button. 

These are some of the coolest-looking Strats Fender ever produced, but is their beauty more than skin deep? Read on.

Features

Fender 75th anniversary Strat

(Image credit: Fender)

The Fender 75th Anniversary Stratocaster celebrates the 75th anniversary of Fender along with similar commemorative Telecaster, Precision Bass and Jazz Bass models. This is a classic Strat through and through with timeless features, including an alder body, maple neck with maple fingerboard and three Vintage-Style ’60s Single-Coil Strat pickups. Neck specs include 22 medium jumbo frets, a Modern “C” profile, 9.5-inch radius, 1.65-inch nut width and satin urethane finish. 

Other notable attributes include a five-position blade pickup selector switch, master volume, neck/middle tone and bridge tone controls, a two-point synchronized tremolo with bent steel saddles and four-bolt neck attachment to a vintage-style heel block and Anniversary neck plate. 

The most distinctive feature is the gloss polyester silver sparkle Diamond Anniversary finish on the body and headstock, which makes an eye-catching statement that tastefully complements the black/white/black pickguard and white pickup covers and knobs.

Fender American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS

(Image credit: Fender)

While the Fender 75th Anniversary Stratocaster oozes classic appeal, the American Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS offers the more modern, hot-rodded features of a super Strat. Fender offers two versions of this model: Mystic Black with rosewood fingerboard or Silver Burst with maple fingerboard. (both finishes are gloss urethane). 

We tested the former, which looks badass paired with leather and studs for Teutonic thrash shows or classy in combo with a tuxedo for wedding gigs that pay the bills.

This Ultra Luxe Strat’s body is also alder, and the neck is decked out with 22 medium jumbo stainless steel frets, a 10-14-inch compound radius, 1.685-inch nut width, augmented “D” shape profile and Ultra rolled fingerboard edges. To provide comfortable, unrestricted access to the upper frets, the heel is tapered and rounded and the treble cutaway scoop is contoured.

Pickups consist of an Ultra Double Tap humbucking bridge pickup and two Ultra Noiseless Hot Strat single-coil neck and middle pickups wired to a five-position blade pickup selector, master volume, neck/middle tone and bridge tone controls.

The S-1 switch embedded in the master volume knob splits the humbucker to a hot single-coil mode. Hardware includes a Floyd Rose Original double-locking vibrato bridge and nut, deluxe staggered tuners and one-ply anodized aluminum pickguard. A deluxe hardshell case is also included.

Fender 75th anniversary Strat

Fender 75th anniversary Strat (Image credit: Fender )

Performance

The 75th Anniversary Stratocaster costs only $100 more than the Player Stratocaster (the most affordable Fender-brand Strat), making it an incredible value, thanks to its upgraded pickups and super-classy styling. For Strat purists and aficionados this model offers a familiar feel and playing comfort that’s like a broken-in pair of leather gloves. 

The neck has heft without being too thick and unwieldy, providing smooth, comfortable playability and full-bodied tone. The pickups deliver a prominent midrange bark and shimmering treble that embodies what many players consider ideal Strat tone (a happy medium somewhere between Stevie Ray Vaughan’s punch and Mark Knopfler’s bite). 

The American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS is one of Fender’s most expensive production model Strats, but it’s worth the extra cost for players who want nothing less than the best. 

The pickups are absolutely noise-free, and they produce a wide range of stellar tones with full body, clarity and dynamic response. The neck is faster than a Bugatti Chiron, and the Original Floyd Rose is built to last decades of dive bombs. Plus, both models look so good that you’ll be the coolest person in the room when you strap one on.

Fender American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS

Fender American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS (Image credit: Fender)

Specs

Fender 75th Anniversary Stratocaster

  • PRICE: $899 / £799 street (inc gigbag)
  • ORIGIN: Mexico
  • TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, Modern ‘C’ profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: 42mm (1.650")
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, black dot markers, 241mm (9.5”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Nickel/chrome, 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles, Standard cast sealed tuners
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53mm
  • ELECTRICS: 3x Vintage-Style '60s Single-Coil Strat, volume, 2x tone, five-way-selector
  • RANGE OPTIONS: US-built 75th Anniversary Strat in 2-Colour Bourbon Burst, 75th Anniversary Telecaster ; Custom Shop Custom Shop Limited-edition 75th Anniversary Stratocaster in Diamond White Pearl ($4,400 street); Read more about the 75th Anniversary Series
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Diamond

Fender American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose HSS

  • PRICE: $2,499 / £2,099 street (inc deluxe hardshell case)
  • ORIGIN: USA
  • TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, Modern ‘C’ profile, Ultra Satin finish, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT WIDTH: 1.685" (42.8 mm)
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, black dot markers, 10”-14” compound radius
  • FRETS: 22, stainless steel, medium jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Original Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo, Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed tuners
  • ELECTRICS: Ultra Double Tap humbucker (bridge), Ultra Noiseless Hot Strat single-
  • coil (neck and middle), with S-1 coil tap switch, volume, 2x tone, five-way-selector
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Mystic Black, Silverburst [as reviewed]
  • CONTACT: Fender
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.