The New Fender American Performer Series

Noteworthy Guitars Series

This is the second installment in a series of blog posts highlighting some really cool guitars and gear I’ve come across.

The Fender American Performer Series launches today, just in time for the holiday season. While most Fender models don’t deviate too much from the norm that they’ve established over the last sixty-something years, this series does indeed add some interesting elements to their classic designs.

All of the American Performer Series models have a new pickup—The Yosemite. Having not yet heard it, I’ll spare you the verbose manufacturer’s explanation of what it sounds like. You’ll just have to play and see. The Yosemites are backed by the already established Greasebucket Tone Circuit, an innovation from Fender that lets you lower your treble tone without the addition of bass, so you don’t muddy the waters too much.

The American Performer Series guitars also sport ClassicGear tuners, which are vintage style tuners with an upgraded 18:1 gear ratio. They’re a little smaller and it’s kind of a personal preference whether you’re into that look or not, but they are made to more accurately tune the instrument, so there’s a plus regardless.

Aside from those generalities across the American Performer Series guitars, here’s the real cool stuff that Fender added to some of their most famous models:

American Performer Stratocaster

Fender added a push/pull tone circuit to the classic Strat model. With three single-coil pickups and a five-way selector switch, you’d normally have five voicing options. But now, with the push/pull tone pot, you can engage the neck pickup in positions 1 & 2. This adds a Bridge/Neck combination and a Bridge/Middle/Neck combination, for a total of 7 voicings.

American Performer Stratocaster HSS

The humbucker at the bridge has always given the Strat a beefier tone for the rock players who want to crank it up a bit. But now, the HSS Strat gives you the option to return to single-coil tone at the bridge with their new DoubleTap Humbucker. Not quite coil-tapping, nor exactly coil-splitting, this patent-pending technology from Fender wires one of the coils extra hot, then engages that single-coil by itself when the push/pull tone pot is activated. The new technique from Fender claims to maintain complete volume, which is commonly diminished with other methods of going from humbucker to single-coil. With one overwound coil, both the humbucker and single-coil voicing likely have a real cool sound.

American Performer Telecaster Hum

While the standard Tele in the Series doesn’t have any wild electronic innovations, the Tele Hum also sports the DoubleTap technology cited above in the humbucker neck pickup. So again, you can basically have a Telecaster with a humbucker OR a single-coil at the neck, in the same exact guitar. Makes you wonder why anyone would go for the Tele or Strat without a DoubleTap…

So there you have it—a new Fender line, with much of the same foundation that makes Fender the iconic brand that it is, but with some pretty cool additions that show they’re willing to innovate a little bit more. I’m told that a few Fender models in the past have had coil-tapping and even a push/pull knob that adds the bridge pickup to amount to 7 voicings, however the Double Tap technology is all-new and the neck pickup has not yet been added by a push/pull tone pot.

If you’re a Fender fan that likes a little modern innovation, you’ll want to check out these American Performer Series models.

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