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Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster review: Another great Fender axe

The new Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster was a great first experience with an HSS so read on for the full review.

Techaeris Rated 9.5/10

There really is no need to explain who Fender is and the impact the company has had on popular music. The company has sent us guitars to test and review in the past and the latest one is the new Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster.

This is the first HSS Stratocaster I’ve actually used and played. All of my Stratocaster experiences have all been of the 3-single coil configuration. The new Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster was a great first experience with an HSS so read on for the full review and find out why this axe takes one of our Top Pick awards.

Specifications

The Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster has the following features and specifications:

  • Alder or roasted pine body
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Satin maple neck
  • V-Mod II Stratocaster single-coil pickups
  • Double Tap bridge pickup
  • “Deep C”-shaped neck
  • 22 narrow-tall frets
  • 2-point tremolo with a cold-rolled steel block
  • Distinctive Fender Stratocaster headstock
  • 25.5″ scale length
  • Bone nut
  • Deluxe molded- style case
  • Finish options:
    • 3-color Sunburst
    • Mercury
    • Olympic White
    • Mystic Surf Green
    • Miami Blue
    • Dark Knight
    • Sienna
    • Roasted Pine

What’s In The Box

  • Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster
  • Deluxe molded- style case
  • Tools
  • Documentation and manuals
Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster review: Another great Fender axe
The included hardshell case is excellent.

Design

The Fender Stratocaster design is iconic and among the most recognizable guitar bodies in the world. Many other guitar companies have copied the Stratocaster look, but there really is only one, and that’s the one made by Fender.

One design element missing on the Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster is the comfort cut the Fender Ultra Series has for the upper register. Playing the upper register is comfortable, but the Ultra Series comfort cut does help reach it better. It’s something that would have been welcomed on the Pro II.

The Pro II body doesn’t look at all different from any other Stratocaster; you’ll get either alder or roasted pine body with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The neck plate is nicely stamped with the Fender American Professional II logo.

The pickguard, volume/tone knobs, and 5-way blade-switch are all basic Fender stock. The tremolo, tremolo arm, tuners, bridge, and nut are also basic Fender stock. The pickups are a pair of V-Mod II Stratocaster single-coil pickups along with a Double Tap bridge pickup. The bridge can tap from humbucker to single coil with just a push of the bottom tone knob.

The neck profile is a Deep C with a rolled fretboard. The Deep C neck profile feels very different than the Modern C, and I recommend you test these out at a guitar store to get a feel for it. I have several Modern C necks and D necks, so getting used to the Deep C didn’t take much to get used to. Still, if you’re used to a specific neck profile, play one before you buy to be sure it’s comfortable.

The rolled fretboard is super comfortable and the fretwork on this guitar was outstanding. No fret sprout and no sharp frets, they are all super smooth even past the 12th fret.

A very nice bonus for the Pro II is that it comes with a molded Fender Stratocaster case. The case is rugged and well built and will protect your axe for years to come. The interior is nice and plush, and there is a nice ample pocket inside.

Overall, the Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster is your classic design. The materials are all premium and feel nice. The finish on the guitar is beautiful; ours came in the Dark Knight burst color. The hardware is all top-notch Fender stock, and the woods all feel super nice. At this price range, Fender generally makes sure everything is near perfection for the player.

Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster review: Another great Fender axe
The color looks nicer in person than in photos.

Out of Box Setup

Setups are a subjective thing. Every guitar player is different, and every guitar player likes their guitar to feel a certain way. The Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster comes very well setup out of the box, and I would say, players who aren’t particular will be pleased.

As I mentioned, the fretwork on our example was pretty much perfect. Often, the frets on new guitars will have sprouting, or they didn’t polish them at the factory. These were spot on, every fret feels good, and there is no hanging when you slide up and down the neck.

Intonation was good on this example, and the action was decent. Personally, I would probably lower the action just a hair because I like a shallow action. But I think most people will be happy as it sits.

Overall, the setup on our Pro II was done really well. I thought the action could be a bit lower, but that’s an easy fix. The biggest thing for me is the fretwork. Taking time to polish fret ends is a pain, so it’s nice to have them done properly at the factory.

Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster review: Another great Fender axe
I missed the comfort cut at the neck that the Ultra Series has.

Sound/Playability

Like the setup, the sound is also very subjective, and it will vary depending on what sort of amp you’re playing out of. I’ve been using a Monoprice 611815 tube amp for the past few years, and that’s what I tested the Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster with.

I’m more of an ambient player, so I love my delays, reverbs, choruses, and some transparent overdrive. Testing the Pro II with clean sounds, the single coils are bright and give you the Fender Stratocaster single-coil sounds. The Double Tap humbucker brings some fatness into the mix, but pushing the bottom tone knob will split the coil, giving you more single-coil goodness.

The Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster combined with my various analog effects and HX Stomp is out of this world. The guitar has some really nice sustain, especially when using the Double Tap humbucker.

I did not get any crackling or interference from any pickups, pots, or instrument jack. This means the soldering points are all solid, and the internal work seems to be well done.

The playability is great on the Pro II, but again, I stress that if you’ve never played a Deep C neck profile, go test it out a few times. It’s not drastically different, but it might take a bit getting used to if you’re new to different neck profiles. I’ll once again emphasize the fretwork, it’s stellar, and it helps add to the overall playability.

Overall, our example sounded amazing on our cheap Monoprice tube amp, and I’m sure it would sound even better on a really high-end amp. Playability is great, the fretwork is awesome, the rolled fretboard is comfy, and the fit and finish are just top-notch.

The HSS configuration plus the coil tap really gives you versatility.

Price/Value

Pricing for the Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster starts at US$1,549, and the hardshell case is included. This is an excellent price and follows Fender’s pricing for this tier of instruments. I think there is plenty of value here; the one thing I would have liked to see on the Pro II is locker tuners. That would have been a nice upgrade and added a lot of value for the consumer.

Wrap Up

The Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster is yet another great member of the Stratocaster family. There are plenty of Stratocaster options to choose from so adding this one to the fray might make your decision that much harder. The Pro II is an excellent, well built, great sounding guitar and worth the asking price.

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Fender American Professional II HSS Stratocaster

US$1,549

Design

9.0/10

Out of Box Setup

9.5/10

Sound/Playability

10.0/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Classic Fender Strat design
  • The setup on this guitar was nearly perfect
  • Sounds great with the Humbucker giving you more options for sounds
  • Price is right and hard shell case included
  • Rolled fretboard edges and great fretwork

Needs work

  • This example was heavier than expected. I recommend trying a few out and testing weight, if thats an issue for you.
  • The Deep C neck profile feels very different and may not be for everyone.
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