Next year is 2024, and that means the Stratocaster celebrates the big 7-0, and to mark the occasion Fender has launched two limited edition 70th Anniversary models, and is offering Strats in its American Professional II and Player ranges in an Anniversary 2-Color Sunburst.
If that 2-Color Sunburst will be go down a treat with the traditionalists looking for a contemporary Strat in a vintage colourway, the new 70th Anniversary Strats will be mother’s milk to collectors, with the AmPro II model resplendent in Comet Burst, showing off all that flame maple top.
The Player Series model boasts a very cool Nebula Noir finish. The latter is a bit like a more cosmologically inspired version of Fender’s Texas Tea finish that we saw debut on the American Ultra models way back in 2019.
Like previous commemorative editions, these 70th Anniversary have a special neck plate, and some specs you don’t get on the regular runs. Let’s take a look at the American Professional 70th Anniversary Stratocaster first.
Here we have figured maple over a solid alder body, an upscale look for any Strat, with a four-ply tortoiseshell pickguard setting things off nicely – not the tremolo cavity cover is also tortoiseshell. It’s a nice touch on an electric guitar that has vintage-modern vibes all over the place.
The sculpted neck heel and rolled fingerboard edges, the deluxe short-post locking tuners are very modern, the aged plastic for the controls hint at the history behind the design. The deep C neck profile might feel more substantial, a little more old-school, but that ‘Super-Natural’ satin treatment on the neck should ensure it won’t gum up on you.
Fender has wound some new electric guitar pickups for this release. This AmPro II Strat has a trio of 70th Anniversary V-Mod II single-coil pickups, a five-position blade selector switch plus master volume and dual tone controls.
There is a cold-rolled steel block two-point tremolo, which promises enhanced sustain. The nut is bone, the fingerboard a crowd-pleasing mix of rosewood and a 9.5” radius. There are 22 narrow-tall frets and it comes in a deluxe Inca Silver hard-shell guitar case. It is priced £2,169/$1,999.
At £959/$999 70th Anniversary Player Stratocaster is considerably more affordable but similarly high-end. As per the top-line Mexican Strats, this has a rosewood fingerboard, not pau ferro – which is a big plus in our book – and the ‘board has been given the rolled-edge treatment. Lovely.
The dimensions and build are similar to its AmPro II sibling, save for the maple top. Here it is a body of solid alder, the bolt-on maple neck. The 25.5” scale length and 9.5” fingerboard radius are familiar too.
This is fitted with a two-point synchronised tremolo with bent-steel saddles, ClassicGear tuners, and we really dig that pearloid pickguard and the black pickup bobbins complementing that very cool Nebula Noir finish. Pickups are a trio of Pure Vintage ‘59 Strat single-coils. This ships in a deluxe gig-bag.
Rounding out these 70th Anniversary releases for the moment we have an Anniversary 2-Color Sunburst applied to American Professional II and Player Series Strats. It’s a nice finish and brings your total colour options to 10.
Good luck choosing from 10 options, all very easy on the eye. This new finish is available with both maple and rosewood fingerboards for the AmPro II model, maple and pau ferro on the Player Series.
Fender says there will be more to celebrate the Strat’s big birthday as 2024 progresses, with no details shared as yet but the words Custom and Shop have been uttered and it would not be a surprise to see some high-end electric guitars to celebrate a landmark year for a classic Leo Fender design – and perhaps something more affordable with Squier on the headstock? Here's hoping.
For more details, head over to Fender.