Let’s talk strats (Pro vs Ultra vs ?)

Whizzinby

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TGF Recording Artist
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I haven’t owned a strat since I was a kid. Seems a bit sacrilegious. Thinking of filling that void in my soul.

Been looking at the American Pro II and Ultras. (Sweet Jeebus that Cobra blue Ultra HSS is :chef )

So the Pro line looks a little more traditional like I’m probably accustomed to from when I last owned a strat. The Ultra seems to specifically being aimed at modern styling (thinner necks, deeper heel contour, flatter radius etc.) which appeals to me at a glance as I have generally gravitated to more modern playing guitars of late.

What’s the story on the noiseless pickups in the ultra series vs v-mod’s in the pro series? Anyone played both sets, and have an opinion either way?

I’m going to go try a handful out, but curious what’s the general opinion of these newer strats vs some of their competition in these price tiers.
 
I can’t speak to the Fender products too much… as the choice I made when I wanted a Stratocaster was to reach out to a builder who made a modern S type, but with absolute vintage Strat tones in spades.

It has replaced my PRS artist as my #1

Brondel-Thornton-Nowcaster-01.jpeg
 
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I currently have a Pro II strat, I really love it. The v-mods sound great, like a strat should

not a direct comparison at all but I used to have an am. deluxe tele that was two generations the predecessor to the Ultra line. I absolutely loved the feel of the neck and the compound radius, in terms of the noiseless pickups, it had the N3s. I didn't hate them but ultimately replaced them with Fralins
 
I currently have a Pro II strat, I really love it. The v-mods sound great, like a strat should

not a direct comparison at all but I used to have an am. deluxe tele that was two generations the predecessor to the Ultra line. I absolutely loved the feel of the neck and the compound radius, in terms of the noiseless pickups, it had the N3s. I didn't hate them but ultimately replaced them with Fralins

What didn’t you like about the noiseless pickups?
 
What didn’t you like about the noiseless pickups?

Not that I necessarily disliked them per sey, but I was after a bit more of a traditional tele sound and those pickups weren't quite offering up the "traditional" sound. Perhaps lacking a bit of depth too but maybe that part was just in my head lol.

Not bad sounding pickups by any means, and the whole being noiseless thing is definitely a plus. My am. pro is definitely a bit noisey when I'm running it through a bunch of gain on my engl/jvm/mesa :rofl
 
Just my opinion, but provided you have a good tech available, and/or aren't concerned about resale, I would never go Fender over Warmoth. It just results in a far better guitar, IMO, and completely made to what you want.

If I didn't go Warmoth, I'd go G&L, either Fullerton or BTO.
 
The Ultras feel really good. I love the necks on them! That’s what would push me over the edge in that direction.

I’m not a big fan of the pickups in either one
 
Jackson Misha Mansoor Japanese So-Cal. The perfect HSS Strat.

Looks sweet. Loaded with a Ragnarok in the bridge :satan Here’s my aversion to that. You throw that pickup in the bridge and the next thing you know I’m trying to exclusively chug on the thing, and I have an RG that’s sole purpose in life is to throw down.

I definitely want an HSS because without a little bite from the bridge I know I’ll find it lacking, but I also don’t want to lean too far away from slightly more traditional strat tones.


The Ultras feel really good. I love the necks on them! That’s what would push me over the edge in that direction.

Thats cool. I’m not a fan of big C necks. (Though to be fair it never stopped me while I was playing strats when I started playing as a kid) I’m thinking that ultra neck style might be more my thing though. I definitely preferred a more slim/modern neck when I was on the LP hunt.
 
You could do something like this. Sorry can't find a pic without the "fret protector". Mahogany, Black Limba Top, Mahogany Neck, Ebony fretboard.

Suhr also makes a more traditional line Classic series IIRC, either SSH or SSS

IMG_3798.jpg



ETA: Found one.
unspecified-5.jpeg
 
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I've not really kept up with the different tiers of Strat available. When I got mine in 2002, I wanted a black strat, white pickguard, the classic. There was a choice between a Mexican one with a rosewood fretboard and a USA one (Standard? No idea...) with a Maple neck. I'd only been playing for a couple of years, dad was buying, and he was happy to get the USA one. It was a difference of £350 vs like £600 at the time, how prices have changed!

Anyway, I thought the Mexican one sounded and played better so I got that. :wat Ceramic pickups, 6 point trem, cheap lightweight trem block and all. And it's served me well, though I always think of a Strat as more utilitarian/ a tool rather than a work of art. I don't have the same sentimental attachment to it as I do my Explorer. In 2008 I put a beautifully tasteless, horrible Blue tortoiseshell pickguard on it. I put new pickups in it in 2009 (Tonerider City Limits) and have mostly stuck with them since. around the same time I had a Thinline Tele with block saddles which I preferred so I swapped them and sold the tele with the traditional bent steel ones.

I played this guitar *A LOT* so by the pandemic it was in bad need of a refret, which would have cost as much as the neck was worth so I just put it off. Then a couple of years ago I joined a band and the singer/ guitarist had this monstrosity partscaster built in the terrible '80s with a locking jack socket, little toggle switches everywhere, a 9lb body, insane locking Trem & Nut setup... But the neck was this beautiful, chunky Maple job with a large headstock, made my J. Torres in 1973. I asked him if I could get it fixed (it'd need new wood added back in to fix what had been removed for the locking nut, and had been drilled for so many different body mountings that it was swiss cheese at the heel) and he was cool with it.

How it started;

Strat start.jpg



The terrible middle years;

Strat Middle.jpg


And how it is now;


Strat now.jpg


I don't know that any of what I've posted is helpful at all but I enjoyed writing it. The TL: DR? I have aged much less gracefully than my strat.
 
I've not really kept up with the different tiers of Strat available. When I got mine in 2002, I wanted a black strat, white pickguard, the classic. There was a choice between a Mexican one with a rosewood fretboard and a USA one (Standard? No idea...) with a Maple neck. I'd only been playing for a couple of years, dad was buying, and he was happy to get the USA one. It was a difference of £350 vs like £600 at the time, how prices have changed!

Anyway, I thought the Mexican one sounded and played better so I got that. :wat Ceramic pickups, 6 point trem, cheap lightweight trem block and all. And it's served me well, though I always think of a Strat as more utilitarian/ a tool rather than a work of art. I don't have the same sentimental attachment to it as I do my Explorer. In 2008 I put a beautifully tasteless, horrible Blue tortoiseshell pickguard on it. I put new pickups in it in 2009 (Tonerider City Limits) and have mostly stuck with them since. around the same time I had a Thinline Tele with block saddles which I preferred so I swapped them and sold the tele with the traditional bent steel ones.

I played this guitar *A LOT* so by the pandemic it was in bad need of a refret, which would have cost as much as the neck was worth so I just put it off. Then a couple of years ago I joined a band and the singer/ guitarist had this monstrosity partscaster built in the terrible '80s with a locking jack socket, little toggle switches everywhere, a 9lb body, insane locking Trem & Nut setup... But the neck was this beautiful, chunky Maple job with a large headstock, made my J. Torres in 1973. I asked him if I could get it fixed (it'd need new wood added back in to fix what had been removed for the locking nut, and had been drilled for so many different body mountings that it was swiss cheese at the heel) and he was cool with it.

How it started;

View attachment 6611


The terrible middle years;

View attachment 6612

And how it is now;


View attachment 6613

I don't know that any of what I've posted is helpful at all but I enjoyed writing it. The TL: DR? I have aged much less gracefully than my strat.
A strat is a work of art. They also vary in tone from stunning to a block of concrete so it matters what the speck is.
Teles (traditional ones ) don't have bent steel saddles? They are three barrel ones in steel or brass.
 
I feel the Fender Ultra series is a bit of a "what bare minimum we can do to make a modernized Strat" type deal. I think they had something near identical all the way back in the late 1990s if not even earlier, just dusted it off a few years ago.

I've been using the same 1996 G&L Legacy for ages now. It's...a Strat. I like the treble/bass controls on it, they have more range than normal Strats but you could easily mod that into any Strat - it's just 1M pots with a cap for bass cut.
 
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