2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS review: I am not worthy

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I have played hundreds of different guitars in my time. I’ve played dobros, 12-string acoustics, 12-string electric, nylon classical, and even bass guitars. But one variant that has eluded me until now has been the Floyd Rose equipped guitar. That is until this 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

That is a mouthful of guitar right there, and it’s also a handful of a guitar. I reached out to Fender and asked if they’d send me the Ultra Luxe Stratocaster specifically. I wanted to experience a Floyd Rose system for the first time, and boy did I find one thing out. I am not worthy.

I love a wide variety of music, and my guitar influences range widely from David Gilmour and Carlos Santana to Steve Vai and Phil Keaggy. I can listen to Joe Satriani and Joe Pass in a playlist with Robert Johnson and Brad Paisley. I love guitar and the sounds the guitar makes. But I was unprepared to deal with the Floyd Rose, and I am walking away with a newfound respect for the players who have mastered the beast. Read on for the full experience with the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS.

Specifications

The 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS has the following features and specifications:

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Body Finish: Gloss Urethane
  • Body Color: Mystic Black
  • Body Shape: Stratocaster
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Neck Finish: Ultra Satin Urethane with Gloss Headstock Face
  • Neck Shape: Augmented “D”
  • Scale Length: 25.5″ (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 10″ to 14″ Compound Radius (254 mm to 355.6 mm)
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Fret Size: Medium Jumbo Stainless Steel
  • Nut Material: Floyd Rose® Original Locking
  • Nut Width: 1.685″ (42.8 mm)
  • Inlays: White Pearloid Dot
  • Bridge Pickup: Ultra Double Tap™ Humbucking
  • Middle Pickup: Ultra Noiseless™ Hot Strat®
  • Neck Pickup: Ultra Noiseless™ Hot Strat®
  • Controls: Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck/Middle Pickups), Tone 2. (Bridge Pickup)
  • 3-Position Blade: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup, Position 3. Middle Pickup, Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup, Position 5. Neck Pickup
  • Configuration: HSS (Humbucker/Single/Single)
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose® Original Double-Locking 2-Point Tremolo
  • Hardware Finish: Nickle/Chrome
  • Tuning Machines: Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed Locking
  • Pickguard: 1-Ply Anodized Aluminum
  • Control Knobs: Aged White Soft Touch Knobs
  • Switch Tip: Aged White
  • Strings: Fender® USA 250L Nickel Plated Steel (.009-.042 Gauges), PN 0730250403

What’s In The Box

  • 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS
  • Fender Deluxe Hard Shell Case
  • Truss Rod and Saddle adjustment tools
  • Strap Locks
  • Documentation and Manuals
2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS

Design

So, at first glance on Fender’s website, I wasn’t that impressed with the finish and look of the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS. But internet photos do not do this guitar justice. The Mystic Black color sent to me is stunning.

Let me start with that anodized aluminum pickguard. In photos, it just looks like a grey pickguard, but it is a thing of beauty in person and has a premium feel to it. The volume and tone knobs are also upgrades and have an excellent grippy feel and a smooth action. The pickup selector switch tip feels like your basic Fender tip.

The HSS pickups are cream, with the humbucker sporting a cream and black color scheme. The middle and neck pickup are both Fender’s Ultra Noiseless single-coil Hot Strats. While the humbucker is an ultra double-tap with the coil tap located in the volume knob, push in, and you split the coils.

The locking authentic Floyd Rose tremolo is immaculate and looks amazing. This Ultra Luxe Stratocaster is the first Floyd Rose-equipped guitar that I’ve ever used. The authentic Floyd Rose nut completes that Floyd Rose aesthetic. The tremolo cover on the back is also anodized aluminum which matches the pickguard.

The finish on the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS that I have here is Mystic Black. As I said before, the photos don’t do it justice. This has a deep glossy black finish with a fine sparkle undercoat. The sparkle is tight; it’s not spread out and gaudy looking. It’s tight enough that you have to really look hard to see it, but if you’re on stage and the light hits it right, it shines.

2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS

The headstock on the Ultra Luxe Stratocaster matches the body, and let me tell you, the paint job and finish on the entire guitar is perfection. The Fender logo is done in gold, and I love this headstock shape. The tuning machines are fine; I just expected them to have a bit of a nicer look to them. They’re great functionally, but aesthetically I think they could have done something different.

The body is made of alder, the fretboard is rosewood, and the neck is maple. The neck has a vintage finish and is satin which makes for great movement up and down. This does have the skunk stripe down the back, which I personally love. The neck plate is chrome and is embossed with the Fender logo and the American Ultra Luxe series logo.

Strap locks are installed, should you want to use them. The buttons are inside the hardshell case. Speaking of the hardshell case. It’s Fender’s Deluxe hardshell case, and it is fantastic. It comes with a lock and a very svelte interior. It offers excellent protection for your Ultra Luxe Stratocaster. It’s a road case for sure, not a flight case, but a solid road case.

Overall, the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS design really blew my socks off. It was more than I expected and it is very well made with excellent materials and craftsmanship.

Fender Strat
Pickups and pickguard

Out of Box Setup

Out of the box, the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS comes set up very well. The action is perfect and set to a height I really like. The fret ends are the paragon of what fret ends should look and feel like. There is absolutely zero fret sprout, and the ends are polished perfectly.

These are stainless steel frets, so that also has a lot to do with how they feel. These frets should last you a very long time, even for players who use the guitar a lot. The tuning machines are very well lubed, and there is no binding when turning them.

The volume and tone knobs are fast; there is no hanging or sticking. I’ve never used speed knobs before, but this is what I would think speed knobs feel like. They’re like butter.

The Floyd Rose system on the Ultra Luxe Stratocaster is so lovely. I’ve never said that about a bridge or tremolo before, but this thing is gorgeous. The guitar was not in tune when I unpacked it, but that’s to be expected from a Floyd Rose system.

The neck is an Augmented D shape with a 10-14″ compound radius. It was comfortable to play, and I understand the idea behind the compound radius, but I’ve always preferred a single radius throughout the fretboard. That’s not to say this isn’t great; it comes down to comfort and (me) not playing these guitars much.

Overall, the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS is near perfection out of the box. The deluxe hardshell case helps protect it in transit, protecting it on the road at gigs.

2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS

Sound/Playability

So here is where the “I’m not worthy” part of my headline comes in. As I mentioned before, I asked Fender to send me this guitar for review because I had never actually used a Floyd Rose-equipped guitar before. And I quickly gained much respect for the players who use this system to make music.

I use my tremolos on my other tremolo-equipped guitars very sparingly. I have always been a finger bender, leaving the use of the tremolo to a dull roar. The Floyd Rose is a whole other beast, which I was not prepared for.

I tried dive bombs and other Floyd Rose tricks, and I felt like a brand new guitar player and not someone who has been playing for over 35-years. I had a hard time keeping things in tune, and the sensitivity of the Floyd Rose was throwing me off.

This has nothing to do with the guitar itself but the player. I failed miserably in my short time with the Ultra Luxe Stratocaster to make it sound like I knew what I was doing. Even as I am writing this review, I have the guitar next to me here and picked it up to pluck away, then broke a string.

So hats off, and much respect to the masters of the Floyd Rose. Maybe if I could hang on to this guitar for a few years, I’d get better; at least I feel like it would take me that long, LOL.

As for the sound, the Hot Strat pickups sound amazing. The noiseless feature does a good job of minimizing the buzz single coils can have, and the humbucker sounds deep and sweet. The pickups, combined with the tone, tap, and selector switch, give you tons of tonal options.

Overall, the sound of the 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS is amazing. The playability is probably amazing in the right hands, but I struggled as a newb to this system.

Floyd Rose
I learned something with this guitar, I am not good with a Floyd Rose.

Price/Value

The 2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS has an MSRP of US$2,499. This Luxe series guitar is well crafted, has the highest quality materials, and is beautiful. It is worth every cent of the asking price.

Wrap Up

I’ll make this simple. If you know how to play guitars with a Floyd Rose, this is certainly a top pick for you. If you’re new to Floyd Rose, maybe start with something less expensive and work your way up. To be sure, you’re going to stick with it.

Listen, I know you can play this guitar without doing divebombs or any crazy tremolo things, but why buy it with the Floyd Rose then? The Ultra Luxe comes in other variants without it, and I can play those more easily. Personally, if I’m not committed to learning something new, I won’t put the investment into it.

The Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose is still an amazing guitar, and those seeking this setup will not be disappointed.

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021.

2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS

US$2,499

Design

10.0/10

Out of Box Setup

9.5/10

Sound/Playability

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Timeless Strat design
  • The materials used are amazing and premium quality
  • The paint job is beautiful
  • The stainless steel frets are off the chain
  • The pickups are crisp and sound wonderful
  • Tons of tonal options
  • Out of box setup on these Ultra Luxe guitars is just spot on. Fender really pays attention to its higher end guitar set ups.

Needs work

  • Not really a con but because I'm not trained on a Floyd Rose, I found it hard to use.
  • This is pricey and some may opt for more affordable Strats
2021 Fender Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS FI
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