Review: Fender Player Plus Stratocaster
Fender launches a new line of seven guitars and basses which improves upon the hugely successful Player Series.
Although it was a long time ago, I vividly remember the day I went to the local music store with a stash of hard-earned pocket money to buy my first Fender. Bringing that charcoal American Strat home was a proud moment and I treasured that guitar like it was made of gold.
Nowadays, that ‘first Fender’ feeling isn’t as distant as it seemed to be years ago to a young guitarist full of passion and enthusiasm and much less full of cash. Fender’s Player Series sold like crazy and proved a fantastic entry point into the world of Fender instruments at an irresistible price point.
Fender now launches the Player Plus Series. It’s a lineup of seven Mexican-made electric guitars and basses with a raft of updated and improved features over the Player Series. Luckily we got a chance to write a Fender Player Plus review before the product’s official launch date.
MAKE AN IMPRESSION
Looks are important. Right out of the bag, the Stratocaster we were sent looks absolutely gorgeous. The Player Plus series introduces a handful of never before seen finishes including a coppery Aged Candy Apple Red, the mysterious Silver Smoke gradient, and the head turning finish on this Strat model, Tequila Sunrise.
Since the Series is called Player Plus, you’re right to expect additional features over the Player series. One unmissable distinction is the inclusion of Noiseless pickups. Single coil hum is a headache, let’s be honest. I love that these Noiseless pickups maintain every ounce of glassy Strat authenticity but without the hum. It’s really a win/win.
Locking tuners secure each string in the threading hole – a feature that vastly simplifies string changes.
The neck is the classic C shape with a 12-inch radius, 22 medium jumbo frets and a 1.6875-inch nut width; super comfy and just the right amount of girth. The Player Plus Stratocaster I received for review has a one-piece maple neck while other Player Plus varieties come with a rosewood fingerboard. A more subtle detail is the rolled fret edges which not only protect your fingers and thumb from being grazed as you slide up and down the neck, but it instantly has that nice worn-in feeling.
A feature I enjoyed more than expected on this triple singe coil Strat is the push/pull bridge tone knob. Pulling it up combines the bridge and neck pickups for a quacky tone on positions 1 and 2 that ends up sounding like a mixture of positions 2 and 4 on a traditional Strat.
NEED TO KNOW
ALL IN ONE
The two point tremolo bridge is a familiar design that’s been around forever and it just works. I like using the side of my palm on the block saddles to add a touch of tremolo without having to screw in the tremolo arm.
The guitar arrived setup with a nice low string action that was super easy and comfortable to play, albeit with no shortage of fret buzz. Intonation was spot on. The action was a little too low for the open B string which was being choked out by fret buzz but that was an easy DIY fix. A padded Fender gig bag is included with a Player Plus guitar.
Tonally, the Player Plus Strat leaves little to be desired. The pickups feel responsive with the right balance of twang and thickness. It’s an inviting guitar to play which encourages experimentation and effortlessly handles different genres and styles in typical Stratocaster fashion.
The more time I spend with this guitar I realised Fender has worked hard to make this instrument as versatile and user-friendly as possible. It feels buttery smooth, has Noiseless pickups, locking tuners, push/pull pickup combinations, all of which combine to make this Strat as nimble as it is capable. The Fender Player Plus is a full package instrument that’s practical, fun and adaptable. As a first Fender, or seventeenth, it’s sure to please.