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Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

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Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Wimek » Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:31 pm

I just saw some videos on youtube about the Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus (This of advertisement from Andertons Music is the most interesting video I could find...). I'm having mixed feelings about the road Fender takes with the Deluxe Plus series: The part of me that's engineer says "great, that way I can tweak the circuit of a guitar in a very convenient way". However, the guitar player in me says: "This is a step too far, a guitar must be simple and sounding good when "I" play it without complex circuits inside".

Then again, like most other guitar players, I love to add stomp boxes and tweak the knobs to change the sound into desirable tones and even changed pickups and electric circuits in my guitar ...so in the end, what's the difference?

So what do you guys think? Is Fender, after 60 years, making the Stat into a great 21st century instrument or did they go a step too far?
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Wonks » Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:11 pm

Guitarists are generally a conservative lot, but at least Fender are still giving you the option of simply using the guitar as a standard Strat. Whether you'd end up using any of the other card/switching options remains to be seen. Possibly in a studio environment where you are looking for a different sound, but then I'd prefer to simply try a different guitar rather than mess about swapping cards around.

My Jimmy Page Les Paul has a theoretical 21 switching options, but I rarely use any but the standard three positions plus the coil taps.

Only time will tell how well those card contacts last. My gut feeling is that I'd prefer to stick with hardwired connections. You've still got the normal problems of selector switches and pots going scratchy without a load of extra connections that can go wrong.

The Strat is already a great 21st Century instrument. I'm not sure that these cards add anything particularly useful or will last more than a couple of years.
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby zenguitar » Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:24 pm

This is just Fender's latest take on an age old problem.

With 3 pick-ups, just using various combinations of phase and series/parallel you have over 30 options. That is before you factor in how you use the pots, tapping coils on humbuckers, adding second taps to single coils, switching in additional caps, resistors and inductors, and assorted other wiring tricks. And that's without active circuit options.

And the standard 5 way switch is actually a 3 throw 2 pole make-before-break switch, the 2 extra positions are a kludge that takes advantage of the make-before-break behaviour to get the neck + middle and middle + bridge combinations.

So you have lots of potential combinations in theory, but a very limited switch, 2 volume controls and one tone control. Over the years guitarists and guitar techs have worked out alternate ways of wiring the stock components to get different combinations, especially all 3 pick-ups together and neck + bridge together. But that still leaves the majority of combinations unachievable. To access some of those combinations you can add extra switches, or swap out the standard pick-up selector and replace it with a genuine 5 throw switch (either 2 pole or 4 pole).

However, there are a couple of problems with adding lots of switches. One is that it makes it more complicated to access individual sounds, you have to flick the pick up selector and then a handful of switches. Not always easy to remember in the heat of the moment, and not always quick (especially when you are tap dancing on your FX pedals at the same time). The other problem is that a lot of the potential sounds are either rubbish, or very similar to each other. Hit the wrong switching combination and things can quickly get very naff.

So, a lot of players experiment with fancy switching schemes, live with them for a while, and then get frustrated and go back to standard wiring. And some of us still have guitars with plugged holes or replacement scratch/control plates.

The plug boards on the American Deluxe Strat Plus, and the S1 switching before it, are attempts to get the best of the alternative wiring options alongside the standard options. I like the S1 switch, and if it wasn't so expensive I could find a lot of uses for it. But I have real doubts about the plug in cards because you have to choose between standard wiring, or one of two alternate wirings, you can't mix and match. To my mind it defeats the whole point of the exercise. I have a feeling that most people will experiment a little and then stick with the standard card, and those who want one or two of the alternate options will be frustrated that their 5 preferred sounds are distributed across 2 or 3 cards. A lot of cards will be lost, and in 30 years time will become expensive collectors items.

If you are really serious about getting your 5 favourite pick-up combinations available on a 5 way selector, in the order you want, it can be done with a 5 throw 2 pole switch. If you want to add some phase or series/parallel combinations, or some tricks with caps and resistors, a 5 throw 4 pole switch will open up plenty of extra options.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Wonks » Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:08 pm

If only they could make it go up to 11.
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Wimek » Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:12 pm

Hmmm... If Fender holds on to the personality card concept, I guess there would be a market for custom designed personality cards: That way you can order a card with the circuit of your choice in the order you want.

Since it consists of passive electronics, I cannot imagine a compact and simple way to make a "programmable" card. However, maybe card with a big dip switch matrix... have to think about it...

Wonks: I also thought about potential problems with the contacts. However, I think the contacts of a card and internal contacts of the guitar differ in one way from switches and pots: these contacts stay put unless you change cards constantly, pots and switches move all the time. How many problems do you have with small circuit boards on mother boards in other equipment? Or do I underestimate this problem?
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Wonks » Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:03 pm

A guitar doesn't have to work just for the short life an item of consumer electronics does, it should carry on working indefinitely. Without seeing the connection type, it's impossible to speculate on how robust the system should be.

But how many times have people had to reseat RAM or plug-in boards in stationary computers? Don't forget that a working guitar gets knocked about a fair bit so the contacts could take a fair amount of stressing over time.

I'm just not sure I want to be an early adopter of this sort of thing. Maybe I would if the system proves itself in a few years.
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Wimek » Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:25 pm

You're absolutely right about connectors giving more or less problems depending on the way equipment is being used. I don't have an opportunity to try one of these new Strats (I would have to travel to the other side of Holland to find a shop that actually has one on stock). Nevertheless, the following pictures show more detail on the internal connections and the connector on the personality cards:

Image

Image

The wiring is similar as found in most modern electronic equipment an the connector reminds me of the old 30 pin iPhone dock connector... Since the pickup wiring will be untouched for years on many guitars there shouldn't be a problem unless humidity and dust cause corrosion problems after many years. More or less the same goes for the connector... it all depends on the quality of the parts used. And yes, we have to keep in mind that guitars should last for many decades!

Question remains: Do we like the use of this kind of "new" connection technology or do we insist on conservative "soldered" wiring?
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby cmon.friday » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:19 pm

Ok, so now that we have had almost 4 years to digest this, we can look back on it and call it for what it really is. Garbage. Cheaply built, inferior sound, but the worst part of this whole debacle, was to try to cash in on the original Plus name. It’s a direct sin against the Fender Strat Gods, and a slap in the face to all the original Strat Plus series owners and players! This model is not now, nor has it ever been, a Fender Stratocaster Plus. This has been the only Fender guitar I have ever regretted buying. I felt the same way towards this as I did when I purchased Microsoft Millennium back in the day. I felt betrayed by a company that, up to that point, I had great respect for. So, you can ahead and call it a Strat, because it is. You can go ahead and call it a Deluxe, because it is. Hell, you can call it any damb thing you want, but please don't call it a Plus because it's not. Calling this a Plus is an insult to the original Fender Stratocaster Plus series models that ran from 1985 thru 1999. They were the best guitars Fender produced (outside of the custom shop) for 14 years running. Those original Plus guitars are highly collectible today and command premium money. Those original Plus guitars keep going up in price, while these fake ones can be had for less than the original list price.
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby SecretSam » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:07 pm

That makes perfect sense.

The point of a strat is that it feels and plays like a strat, so making a 'better' one that sounds and plays like something else is a bit pointless. The world is not short of other guitars that sound and play differently.
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Re: Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus... road to the future?

Postby Agharta » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:11 pm

Looking forward to the Fender Strat X with a built in iPhone holder and a 50% premium.
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