Fender American Ultra Series Stratocaster and Telecaster review

Fender has refreshed and renamed its American Elite series for 2020, but do the Californian guitar giant's new flagship electrics raise the standard?

(Image: © Olly Curtis / Future)

Guitar World Verdict

The Ultras represent the most modernist vision, with their obvious refinements, yet still feel and sound very ‘Fender’.


  • +

    Classy, modern builds.

  • +

    Excellent weight.

  • +

    Hum-cancelling Noiseless Vintage pickups.

  • +

    S-1 ‘seven-sound’ and S-1 series/parallel switching.


  • -

    Both relatively minor upgrades from the previous Elite models.

  • -

    Reduced S-1 switching options on the Strat.

  • -

    No left-hand options available as yet.

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You don’t want to stand still at Fender for too long or you might get refreshed or renamed. That’s what has happened to the relatively new American Elite series, which is now known as the American Ultra series and represents the "pinnacle" of Fender's contemporary electric guitars.

This range replaced the American Deluxe series back in 2016, and has now had a name change, plus some altered features with it, although it remains the most modern series – or “advanced”, as Fender prefers to call it – in Fender’s production ranges, as with the previous Elite and Deluxe. “There are three main strands to the product categories: vintage-inspired, contemporary and advanced,” explains Fender’s senior product manager, Matt Davey. “The vintage-inspired is obviously Vintera and American Original; contemporary is Player, American Performer and American Professional; and then advanced is the Mexican-made Deluxe series and now the American Ultra – the pinnacle.”

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Dave Burrluck
Gear Reviews Editor, Guitarist

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.