In this Fender American Ultra Telecaster review we’re going to take a look at the replacement for the Fender American Elite series guitars. We’ll take a look at it’s features, styling and discuss tone. Ready to dive into the world of premium Fender guitars? Let’s get started.
Overview of American Ultra Telecaster
The Ultra is a full scale (25.5″) guitar. It’s body is made from Alder with a gloss polyurethane finish, similar to other Telecaster models. The body contains a few new features however. The belly cutaway is slightly more pronounced and they’ve introduced a cutaway near the neck joint, which makes it much easier to reach the higher frets.
Additionally the neck joint has been rounded to further enhance comfort. The body has a vintage looking white binding, which is something new for the Ultra series. The neck is made from maple with a satin finish to make it easy to move around the fingerboard.
The neck is bolted to the body, something that’s a common feature of Fender guitars. The chrome finished plate that sits over the joint is stamped with the Fender logo and the Ultra insignia for extra style points. A darker stripe down the back of the neck marks the truss rod inlay, something that’s been carried across from classic Fender models.
The Ultra is available with either a Rosewood or Maple fingberboard. It’s good to see Rosewood back on these guitars. The Elite series used Ebony instead of Rosewood. The Ultra has 22 medium jumbo frets so plenty of room to maneuver. The key frets are marked out by pearloid dot inlays.
The neck profile is Fender’s modern D shape. It’s a little flatter than the Elite series and features rolled fingerboard edges for reduced strain on your fretting hand. The neck is also slimline to further enhance playability.
Travelling further up the guitar we come to the nut, which is made from bone. I’d expect to see bone on a premium guitar, so I’m pleased that Fender hasn’t compromised here. Moving onto the headstock, you’ll find the mechanism to adjust the truss rod. The Elite series had the truss rod adjustment at the bridge. Fender has gone back to the traditional approach with the truss rod access at the headstock.
The headstock has a gloss finish to it, which looks really cool. Tuning is handled by Fender’s deluxe cast locking machines. These provide great tuning stability and makes re-stringing much easier because you can lock the tension of the string. This eliminates issues that sometimes occur when you have to fully wind to get tension, such as slippage.
The headstock features a gold Fender logo, which is new for the Ultra series. Flip the guitar over and you’ll see the all important stamp showing the guitar was made in the Corona factory in California, USA.
Let’s travel back down to the body and examine the hardware and electronics. Fender has introduced their Ultra Noiseless Telecaster pickups with the Ultra series. They do exactly what their name suggests. hum and buzz is greatly reduced to almost naught when plugged into an amp. It’s greatly noticeable when you compare and Ultra to the Player series.
There are two physical pickups, both single coils. One located at the neck position and one at the bridge. There’s a three-way pickup selector switch, which lets you choose between the bridge pickup, neck pickup or both in parallel at the middle position.
A new feature has been introduced for the Ultra series in the form of an S1 switch. When the pickup switch is at the middle position, you can press the master volume knob so that the two pickups become wired in series. This produces a much fatter sound, which is similar but not quite as full as the tone produced by a humbucker.
The bridge is 6 saddle fixed bridge, meaning you can adjust the intonation easily. Restringing is done through the body of the guitar. Speaking of strings, the Ultra comes with a set of Fender USA nickel plated .009’s. You’ll probably want to swap those out for your favored brand and gauge.
Onto the tone. The Ultra Tele produces a very bright sound, perhaps brighter than other telecasters. If you roll back the tone slightly you can achieve a more mellow tone. When the pickups are in series you get a thicker tone, which sounds great.
It’s plenty capable of rock too, although it leans towards vintage styles. I wouldn’t play high gain styles on the Ultra. But it’s versatile enough for a myriad of other styles. From jazz to funk, from rock to punk, blues to crunch. The noiseless pickups really add to the quality of the tone too, a very welcome bonus.
The Ultra Telecaster is available in 5 colors:
I’m a huge fan of the Ultra Burst, but the Texas Tea gives an oily, golden brown effect when the light hits it. It’s quite striking! Oh yeah, and if that wasn’t enough a premium Fender hard case is also thrown in for the price!
There’s a lot to like about the Ultra Telecaster. It looks as if it has been crafted by a higher being with comfort in mind. The versatility of tones is astonishing. You’re definitely getting a quality guitar. Here are some of the best bits:
- Ultra Noiseless Pickups
- Nut Bone
- Premium Case Included
There are a few things to note about this guitar, but to be honest they’re not fundamental problems, more things relating to play style and budget:
- Not so good for high gain styles
- Very expensive
The American Ultra Telecaster is a dream of a guitar. I really like some of the modern touches Fender has included with the Ultra series, whilst protecting the vintage reputation of the Telecaster. The Ultra Noiseless pickups are a big plus point and the focus on comfort serves the guitar very well.
It’s not going to be suitable for high gain styles, but for anything else it’s more than capable. The ability to run the pickups in series gives the guitar a whole new dynamic. Whilst not as punchy as a humbucker, it’s doing a good job of imitating one.
The price is a little eye watering, but you’re certainly getting a hell of a guitar for the price. If the Ultra is a little out of your budget make sure you check out other guitars on my Electric Guitars Page.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Interested in finding out more about the Ultra Telecaster? Click below!
Note:As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep the site going. When you click a link on this page it may go to a supplier with whom I have an affiliate relationship. This won’t increase the price you pay. I don’t recommend any product that I haven’t used myself or thoroughly researched.