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Rating and Reviews: Fender USA Special Strat

Score a USA-made Fender for a great price. With a trio of Texas Special pickups and vintage-style two-point vibrato, the American Special Stratocaster rocks.

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"This really is a great guitar" submitted April 13, 2012

By John R in West Chester, PA
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Musical Background: I play live with a hard rock and blues band
Music Style: I like all music. I believe in the blues.
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
Sound: After playing Strat's for over a decade I love the balance. quack, and tonal range. The bridge pup with added tone control is a working man's best friend. I dial it down to about 6 and find a set of tones I have never heard before. Feature: The pickups and tone control can easily satisfy the metal players and I love that but, its the clean tone that blows me away. Ease of Use: No guitar is for everyone. For me this is a blues machine. Wide neck, tall frets, sweet clean tone and pickups that bite when I dig in to them. Quality: The paint is mirror like and I can FEEL the notes as the wood vibrates each note. I don't care where it was made, it perfect in every way. Value: Hands down this is the bets "Bang for your buck" guitar I can think of. If you want an American Stratocaster, you owe it to yourself to try this before paying more for the rest. Manufacturer Support: Have no idea The Wow Factor: The big sound and light weight. Everyone that see's it loves the color, even my teenagers! Overall: I played this guitar and a few new Strats the same day, came home and ordered from Zzounds. The one I got needed a neck adjustment but that was it. Rolled frets and a perfect setup. I could have really giged with it the first night. I just love this guitar. Zzounds made it easy and Fender made it perfect.
28 of 28 people (100%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Excellent guitar compared to overpriced Gibsons!" submitted September 30, 2012

By Mitch P in Berryville, VA
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Musical Background: Journeyman guitarist, 40+ years playing guitar, bass, keys at coffee houses, churches.
Music Style: Contemporary Christian, rock, cutting edge hard rock.
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VERIFIED BUYER
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Sound: I replaced the pickups with an HSS pickguard assembly, custom made using Seymour Duncan pickups as it's just my preference. Nothing wrong with the stock pick ups if you like Tex-Mex style music. Sadly, another reviewer chose to use rude language for no apparent reason to bash the basic sound without making any legitimate statement. Feature: The guitar is well made for the price and is a USA product. I sold a $2k Gibson Les Paul at a loss because it's features didn't live up to the hype. Fender has made a far more affordable, lighter and easily as beautiful a guitar for 1/2 the price. Ease of Use: This Strat compares very favorable to several MIM Strats I previously owned to use with a synthesizer, albeit with less controls of course. It fits in with my pedalboard effects and amps quite well once I swapped out pickups. The neck allows me to easily fret chords and lead as well. Quality: Good quality and great appearance. The neck feels easy to play and is finished so it's very playable. Value: Very much so. Your average step down would be an Asian made guitar with a licensed lock down tremelo system which are very unstable from my experience. A much more affordable approach which I took was to swap to lockable tuners which made the tremolo far more stable. It's easier to change strings this was as well. The finish is great and other guitars in this range use their own brand of pickups or licensed name brands which are of a lower quality than the Fenders. Manufacturer Support: I've never had to deal with Fender for issues. zZounds is very helpful and handles returns professionally. The Wow Factor: Sadly, some reviewers resort to cursing, poor spelling and generally illiterate responses to grind an axe with either the guitar or Fender in general. I have never known a USA made product from Fender to be of extremely low quality; enough so to deserve such rants in a rating system. This is hopefully not typical of a musician purchasing this guitar as it a good investment for an intermediate or better musician. Overall: Overall I find this guitar to be a great value. Even if I built a guitar from kit form, I would have still had to pick out specific pickups, tremolo system, tuners, etc. and had to have a luthier set up the neck/body and intonation. By buying this guitar, I get made in USA quality, fit and finish and only had to upgrade pickups and tuners.
20 of 21 people (95.24%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Fender American Special Gorgeous guitar" submitted March 10, 2013

By Ravi C
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Musical Background: 30 years of playing mostly all genres of music...
Music Style: Rock, Light Jazz Pop and folk, blues and rock N roll...
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Overall: I just purchased this guitar in CAR color and am absolutely amazed at the build quality and sound...The neck does take a bit of getting used to but is delightful once you get into it...Thanks Fender...
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"Just might fall in love!" submitted October 21, 2013

By Marc Gonzalo in San Diego, CA
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Musical Background: 20+ years playing guitar. Acoustic, electric, bass guitar.
Music Style: Blues, blues rock, funk, jazz, hard rock.
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Overall: Recently purchased the Fender American Special Stratocaster in CAR. Tone, feel, and playability are superb; really top notch! The neck is comfortable and the jumbo frets make bending effortless. I would have liked to have some tone control for the middle pick up, but overall the Texas special PUPs had the sound that's just right for what I need. The vintage tremelo and oversized headstock really help with sustain. I love the combination! It's now my go-to Strat for blues and blues-rock sets. Playing through a Fender tube amp really brings out the subtle nuances of this guitar. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is on a budget looking for a top quality stratocaster.
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"American Special - Mexican parts..." submitted August 28, 2013

By Mitch P in Berryville, VA
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Musical Background: 40 year musician, guitar, bass, recording equip
Music Style: Christian rock
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Overall: Sadly, American means nothing anymore. Great concept, poor execution. I immediately replaced the stock tuners with locking ones to improve the trem action and I don't even dive bomb! Then I purchased a brass aftermarket weight block, trem locker, HD springs and new brass spring tree. All these mods still kept the price lower than the standard., Eventually I dumped the tex-mex pups (no Rainbow in there), but this isn't about the pups. After I got the brass block, it wouldn't fit. Turns out it's a Mexi-Strat piece! So now pretty everything is coming northward from south of the border. Fender, you should be ashamed. Otherwise, fit and finish were o.k., but be honest with your marketing. Heck, I had a couple of Roland ready 'Strats a while back and they were great. At least you knew what you were getting...
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"Great value for a great guitar. Please fast and effortlessly and has a wide range of tone options." submitted July 16, 2010

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Musical Background: Active Musician, Worship Leader
Music Style: Alternative
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VERIFIED BUYER
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Sound: I absolutely love the Texas Specials in this thing. You can get a very Blues type bark out of them and plenty of rock sound if you want. With some tweaking they are also great for softer stuff. I love the sustain that the larger headstock provides. This bad boy will also cut right through a mix providing its very own distinct sound. Feature: Not a great deal in this department. No locking tuners which aren't that big of a deal since it stays in tune incredibly well. Ease of Use: This thing plays so fast and easy and is so versatile that you shouldn't have trouble getting it to adapt to your playing style. Quality: Well, here is one area that I was incredibly pleased with. After one week the strings were cutting into the fretwire. I spoke with Fender and they said that this is not common and isn't considered normal wear and tear. Beyond that, the guitar is built like a tank and is as lite as a feather, absolutely beautiful finish (2TSB). Neck has a smooth back that makes sliding up and down the fretboard effortless. Value: A price like this for an American Fender with upgraded pickups is a steal. I know some people recommend buying the cheaper H1 and upgrading it but this was a much better deal to me as I love the finish on these things more. Manufacturer Support: Fender was right on top of things when I talked to them about the fret issue. I confirmed with an authorized Fender repair center and sent the guitar back to zzounds.com. I would also like to add that zzounds was right on top of things as well. They were happy to either refund my money or get me a replacement ASAP. I have bought several guitars and other equipment from zzounds and will continue to do so as they always are easy to work with. The Wow Factor: It is absolutely gorgeous and is made like a Fender Strat should be made. Overall: This guitar will probably stay with me as long as I keep playing. The only thing I may do is add some Big Dippers to get a different sound. I won't get rid of the Texas Specials though, I love them.
24 of 25 people (96%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"worse guitar I ever played" submitted August 10, 2013

By Steven G in Rochester, NY
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Musical Background: been playing over 30 years and played in many bands now I just get together with friends
Music Style: classic rock, Santana, blues, some country/bluegrass, anything but hip-hop or soul music
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VERIFIED BUYER
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Overall: I wouldn't give this guitar to someone I didn't like, it's that bad. I owned it for one day, I restrung it with Elixirs as soon as I got it (my favorite strings) and started playing it, I have never been more disappointed in my life. I repacked it immediately and sent it back 2 days later. While it looked nice in green it played horrible. The neck was horrible, the pickups lifeless and for the money there are so many other great guitars, (Reverend for one) for the same money the come out of the box gig-ready. I have owned at least 20 fenders in my 30 plus years of playing and this one makes a Squire sound good. The worst pickups I ever played. I have 2 other guitars with Texas special pickups in them and this sounded NOTHING like them. It was dead and lifeless. I suggest a mexican with factory Texas specials they out play this guitar all day....Nothing against Zzounds the are a fantastic company with the best sales people on the internet but you can dop much much better than this guitar
1 of 4 people (25%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"its a worthless strat!" submitted March 17, 2010

By a customer from yahoo.com
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Musical Background: Active Muusician
Music Style: heavy blues/hard rock/classic rock
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Sound: it's simply a half assed version of the legendary highway one sss strat. doesnt have the tone versatilty or sustain the highway one sss strat has.personaly theres nothing classic when it comes to tone with the american special strat. its a waste of wood and money. Feature: nothing special for the simple reason it copies the Brilliant highway one strat. doesnt have its own features other than the texas special pick ups and they suck! they are not in the same leage at all as the Brilliant Alnico III pu's that are in the highway one sss strats. Quality: i ranke it low because it just doesnt have its own voice its mostly a copy of another strat. Value: its not worth a damm to me Overall: its nothing more but a half assed version of the Brilliant highway one sss strat period end of story.
9 of 133 people (6.77%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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