Gear Review: New Fender Player Plus Series Guitars and Basses

Just imagine if Fender’s classic instruments like the Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars, and iconic Jazz and Precision basses, could be tweaked to be even better. Well, the design team at Fender has endeavored to do just that. The new Player Plus enhancements deliver some interesting changes to the company’s most popular guitars and basses. Arriving in stores now, we can find Player Plus versions of the iconic Stratocaster, Stratocaster HSS, Telecaster, Nashville Telecaster, Jazz Bass, Jazz Bass V, and Precision Bass. 

As an example, let’s take a look at the new Player Plus version of the popular Stratocaster HSS. Even with a quick look, it’s hard to miss the visual impact of the gradient finish available for this model. It walks the line of striking and tasteful, and its modern good looks are bound to set its players apart on stage.

In terms of playability, the most notable changes to this Stratocaster are the move to a 12” neck radius and medium jumbo frets with a marginal increase in string spacing at the nut. This opens up some serious creative possibilities that might just resonate with your playing style. A flatter radius and a little more space across the fretboard make for easier guitar soloing and bending notes. Like other instruments in the line, the “C” neck shape helps with the move to a flatter radius. 

The fingerboards of these models are made of attractive Pau Ferro, a South American wood that has similar properties to rosewood but is lighter in color and harder. Not just better for the environment, Pau Ferro offers a warm tone and snappy attack, creating a crisp, clear sound that compliments Stratocasters and Telecasters.

There are some small, but important, changes to the electronics, too, for Player Plus guitar owners. Newly-voiced noiseless pickups and upgraded electronics not only sound good but make switching between pickup configurations more smooth, as the impedance of the pickups themselves are more closely matched. A push-pull tone knob on this Stratocaster model adds to the guitar’s versatility, splitting the humbucking pickup and activating a coil-split mode. Locking tuners come standard and a two-point tremolo has been added with improved block steel saddles.

Player Plus basses are powered by the Player Plus PJ pickup set with sound tailored by a  three-band active EQ system. The Player Plus Precision bass is also switchable between active and passive operation for even greater flexibility. Players will appreciate the silky satin finish of the neck, with comfortable rolled edges on a 12” inch radius fingerboard. A “C”-shaped neck adds to the comfortable feel and playability. The new models feature Fender’s four-saddle HiMass bridge design for the best sustain, resonance, and intonation possible. Like the guitars of the Player Plus line, the new finishes of the basses offer players a bold look to go along with their sound.

The Player Plus guitars and basses offer serious changes in looks, feel, and playability plus new pickup and electronics implementations, but most importantly, these changes are not at the expense of classic Fender tone. So, it’s important to note that these are not radically new instruments. They don’t stray very far from the classic designs that made them household names for performers everywhere. Rather, these small changes make for a logical evolution of the instruments to help players reach their potential. Whether you are already a Fender player or have yet to discover those classic sounds, you’ll find the new Player Plus guitars and basses interesting and worth a serious look.


$1,029.99 (Stratocaster HSS)

$1,049.99 (Precision Bass)

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