Are you looking for a real top-of-the-line Tele? Maybe you don’t have the cash for a Custom Shop model or are looking for something with all the most modern specifications and “bells and whistles.” In this Fender American Ultra Telecaster Review, I’ll tell you why this guitar might be your next axe.
Keep on reading to check out the pros and cons of the American Tele Ultra line!
You can use the table of contents below to take you to the area that interests you. Click on the little box to open it, and then click on the section of the article you want to read, or you can read from start to finish if you want the full American Ultra Tele experience!
What Is The Fender American Ultra Telecaster?
The American Ultra (along with the American Ultra Luxe series) is the best production line guitar that Fender makes. These American-made guitars feature a host of modern enhancements that take each guitar model to the next level.
Fender took their Telecaster design and enhanced it with things like locking tuners, a compound radius neck, noiseless pickups, and an S1 switching system.
These upgrades give the guitar significantly improved sound and playability. Fender created the American Ultra Luxe line to add things like stainless steel frets and an ash body to take it one step further.
Who Is The American Ultra Tele For?
The American Ultra Telecaster is for the player that wants the traditional Tele look and sound with the flexibility to deal with the demands of today’s music.
It is primarily aimed at the intermediate to advanced player. This Tele may be out of your price range if you are just beginning as a guitar player.
The American Ultra Tele is a guitar that can take you through your entire musical journey and be an excellent “hand me down” to other musical family members.
Some truly amazing players have used the Telecaster over the years. Check out my article on Best Telecaster Players – These Tele Masters Will Shock You!
American Ultra Tele VS American Ultra Luxe Tele
The Fender American Ultra Luxe series Telecasters have all the bells and whistles of the Ultra series but add the following additional features.
- Stainless steel frets (instead of nickel)
- Painted headstock
- Ash body (alder on the American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose model)
The American Ultra Luxe Teles come in three models:
- Two-color sunburst with maple fingerboard, ash body with binding
- Transparent surf green with rosewood fingerboard, ash body with binding
- Mystic Black Floyd Rose HH with maple fingerboard, alder bound body, two Fender Double Tap Humbucking Pickups, and Floyd Rose bridge
Do You Need Stainless Steel Frets?
So, what’s the big deal about stainless steel frets? If you’re a seasoned guitarist, you probably played on nickel frets all these years and did just fine.
From my point of view, stainless steel frets have two major advantages.
First, they facilitate string bending to make it “smooth as butter” because the strings don’t “grid” against the fret (called metal galling) like nickel frets can do. You know what I’m talking about if you have a heavy hand when you string bend.
Second, the frets last forever without showing visible signs of wear. There’s a point of no return with nickel frets, where string-buzz and denting can only be corrected with a re-fret job.
If none of this sounds familiar or it’s not a factor in your playing, then nickel frets are fine. I have guitars with both types of frets, and it doesn’t make much of a difference in my playing, even when bending strings.
American Ultra Telecaster – Cheat Sheet
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ☆ 9.6 Out Of 10
Street Price $2,100
The American Ultra Telecaster (along with the American Ultra Luxe series) is Fender’s highest production line Tele.
It’s designed to bring the traditional Telecaster look and sound into the modern era by adding special features that enhance its playability.
If you want to go directly to the guitar’s specs, then click here.
✅ 10”-14” Compound Radius Neck
✅ Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele single-coil pickups
✅ S1 Switching System
❌ No Ash Body Option, except on custom orders
❌ No Stainless Steel Fret Option
9.6 Out Of 10
9.5 Out Of 10
9.8 Out Of 10
9.5 Out Of 10
Fender Company Profile
Unless you just started playing the guitar today, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Fender brand. These guitars have literally helped define rock n’ roll and blues history. Their original factory was in Fullerton California.
Fender guitars are now made in many parts of the world, with the American-made and Custom Shop guitar lines still made with pride in the USA.
The Fender Broadcaster was first introduced in the autumn of 1950. It became known as a “Nocaster” after the Broadcaster label was removed from the headstock to avoid a trademark lawsuit from Gretsch over their “Broadkaster” drum set. The guitar was re-branded the Telecaster and the rest is history!
Fender has also led the way with amplifiers. Their “K&F” (Doc Kauffman and Leo Fender) series were the very first Fender amps, made by the K&F Manufacturing Corporation. These amps formed the basis of the Woodie, Tweed, Blonde, Brownface, Blackface, and Silverface series.
Fender makes an extensive line of pickups for all their guitars and bass guitars. Their Custom Shop pickups are hand-wired with hand-beveled magnetic pole pieces and period-correct wire and bobbins.
American Ultra Telecaster Specifications
Here are the specifications for the American Ultra Tele. The Ultra Luxe version has essentially the same specs, except for the changes noted above.
|Body||Bound Alder (bound ash body on the American Ultra Luxe Tele series)|
|Shape||Tele with contoured top (arm) and rear upper bout (belly) “comfort carve”|
|Colors||Arctic Pearl, Texas Tea, Mocha Burst, Ultraburst, and Cobra Blue|
|Neck||“Modern D”- with Ultra satin finish, rolled edges, and tapered neck heel|
|Branding||“Metallic” Fender logo on the headstock|
|Fingerboard Material||Rosewood or Maple|
|Fingerboard Specs||10”-14” compound radius with 25.5-inch scale length & dot inlays]|
|Nut||Bone with a 1.685-inch nut width|
|Frets||22 Medium Jumbo Nickel|
|Transport||Premium molded hardshell case included|
|Bridge/Saddles||6-Saddle American Tele with Chromed Brass Saddle (string though body)|
|Tuners||Fender Deluxe Die-cast Sealed Locking with a single string tree|
|Neck Plate||“Fender American Ultra” embossed|
|Neck Pickup||Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele single-coil neck pickup|
|Bridge Pickup||Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele single-coil bridge pickup|
|Controls||1 x master volume (with S-1 switch), 1 x master tone, and treble bleed circuit|
|Switching||3-way pickup switch|
|Miscellaneous||Weight: Approximately 7 to 7 ½ pounds|
Strings: Fender NPS 0.009 – 0.046
Made in Corona, California, USA
The American Ultra Teles are available in five colors. Arctic Pearl and Texas Tea typically come with rosewood necks. Mocha Burst, Ultraburst, and Cobra Blue usually come with maple necks. Custom colors are also available from certain authorized Fender dealers.
They’re all incredibly sharp-looking, but I have to say that Mocha Burst with the maple neck is my favorite color combination.
Features And Benefits
Check Out These Great American Ultra Tele Features
Tapered Neck Heel
The tapered neck heel really provides the player with comfortable fingerboard access, all the way up to the highest frets. The body is contoured at the neck joint and below it to allow room for your hand in all the right positions.
It’s something you have to experience to understand the full benefit of this new design.
Rear Contoured Upper Bout “Comfort Carve”
The upper bout on the rear of the guitar is curved, similar to a Stratocaster, to provide you with a comfortable “belly carve.”
It’s one of the things that makes a Strat comfortable to play, especially when sitting.
Chrome-Plated Brass Bridge Saddles
Chrome-plated brass bridge saddles were chosen for that great classic Tele sound and sustain. The mellower sound of brass balances out the brighter sound of the ash body and the bone nut perfectly.
The chrome plating makes the saddles blend nicely with the bridge and the rest of the hardware.
Here is a video from Fender that talks about the American Ultra series and demos the guitar. It’s a must-see!
What I Like About The American Ultra Telecaster
Here are some things I think make this guitar a real winner.
The locking tuners make the guitar easy to restring and stay in tune. Once you get used to locking tuners, you’ll never want to use anything else, even on a non-tremolo guitar.
Compound Radius Neck
The 10”-14” compound-radius neck on this guitar is simply incredible. It is more curved at the nut to make chord playing more comfortable and progressively flattens out as you move up the neck to make note bending a breeze.
The “Modern D”- shaped neck, ultra satin finish, rolled edges, and tapered neck heel all work together with the compound radius to make it play like a dream.
Noiseless Pickups With Treble Bleed Circuit
The Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele single-coil pickups keep the dynamic, trebly, and twangy sound of a classic Tele while eliminating the single-coil hum.
They are hot enough to drive a good amp into overdrive. Plug into a high-gain amp or add an overdrive/distortion pedal and listen to the guitar really come alive!
A treble bleed circuit keeps the highs intact on the pickups’ signal output as you turn down the guitar’s volume knob.
S1 Switching System
The S1 switch is built into the volume knob. Press it, and it switches the wiring of the two pickups from a parallel to a series configuration when the pickup selector switch is in the middle position.
This additional tonal option is excellent for playing chords and solos!
What You Might Not Like About This Tele
Ok, it’s almost impossible to find things wrong with this guitar, but here’s one thing to consider.
No “Mix And Match” Option
From what I can tell, the American Ultra Tele only comes with the alder body. You have to go with the American Ultra Luxe series to get the ash body (and the stainless steel frets), which will set you back about another $400.
What if you have the cash to get the ash body but want the nickel frets? I heard Fender might be releasing some American Ultra Teles with ash bodies, which to me is classic (ash body, maple fingerboard, brass saddles, and a bone nut).
Besides that, it’s a tremendous guitar and even comes with a Premium molded hardshell case!
Other Things To Consider
Here are some of the things that might factor into your decision to purchase this guitar.
What Sets the American Ultra Tele Apart From Its Competitors?
There really isn’t another Tele available on the market that can compare with this guitar. The combination of the neck, pickups, and S1 switching system makes it unique.
What Makes This Version Different From Other Fender Teles With Noiseless Pickups And The S1 Switching System?
The noiseless pickups have been upgraded in both the American Ultra and Ultra Luxe guitar series with Fender’s new Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele single-coil pickups. These pickups are more dynamic and true to the original Tele sound and have a very musical tone when wired together in both parallel and series via the S1 switch.
Comparable Products To Consider
The best comparison to the American Ultra Tele is the American Ultra Luxe Tele, which gives you an ash body and stainless steel frets for an additional $400.
Key Decision Making Factors
If you play a lot of solos, the neck alone on this guitar is worth the money. For guitar players that record a lot, the noiseless pickups are a must!
Considering all you get for your money, including a premium molded hardshell case, this guitar is the money!
The user reviews are generally very favorable. Reviewers are particularly pleased with the feel and playability of the compound radius neck, which feels very comfortable in the hand and makes it easy to bend notes.
Many reviewers have commented on how fantastic the noiseless pickups sound, especially in combination with the treble bleed circuit and the S1 switching system.
There have been a few complaints that the guitar doesn’t have the “classic” Tele sound, but nothing is going to sound exactly like a classic Tele except for an actual classic model. Don’t expect the American Ultra to go toe-to-toe with a vintage Broadcaster.
Is The American Ultra Tele Legit?
If you’re looking for a guitar with the classic Telecaster sound but without all the physical limitations of a traditional Tele, such as limited upper fret access, this guitar is definitely a serious contender!
The pickups sound great, without the annoying electrical hum that plagues most single-coil guitars.
Fender has done an outstanding job updating a classic design while retaining all that’s good about the original Telecaster. I think Leo Fender would wholeheartedly approve!
To my ears, this Tele sounds exceptional in all the ways that matter.
If you’re interested in grabbing one for yourself, click the button below to check availability, user reviews, and current pricing. They won’t last long, and I highly recommend them!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions I get asked about Telecaster guitars.
If your question does not appear here, please put it in the comments, and I will get right back to you with an answer.
Are Telecasters Easier To Play Than Stratocasters?
Yes, generally speaking, they are because of their simplicity. Also, Telecasters don’t have a tremolo bridge, so they are easier to keep in tune than Stratocasters. However, a Strat has a “double-horn” design to give it better higher fret access.
Strats can be more comfortable to play because of their “body cutouts” (which are also available on the American Ultra series Telecasters).
Is A Telecaster Good For Beginners?
Yes, a Telecaster is an excellent guitar for beginners. It sounds great with any music and is easy to play and keep in tune.
What Is A Fender Telecaster Good For?
Telecasters have a naturally “twangy” sound, which is great for playing country music. However, you can use a Tele for Jazz, Rock, Blues, Metal, or any other musical genre.
What Gives A Telecaster Its Twang?
The bridge plate and bridge saddles of a Tele, along with the bridge pickup design and the way it is mounted in the bridge plate, give the guitar the majority of its twangy sound.
What Do The Two Knobs On A Telecaster Do?
The knob closest to the neck adjusts the volume output of both pickups. The tone knob changes the tone of each pickup by making them sound more trebly or emphasizing the bass tones.
How Do I Get More Sustain Out Of My Telecaster?
The easiest way to add sustain is to use thicker gauge strings with properly adjusted neck action. A string-through-the-body Tele will also help. Some players use hotter pickups, an overdrive pedal, or a high-gain amplifier.
I hope you found this Fender American Ultra Telecaster Review valuable. This guitar was designed to take the classic look and sound of the Tele into the modern era by making it noiseless and easier to play without sacrificing its coveted tone.
The Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele single-coil pickups combine with the treble bleed circuit and the S1 switching system to produce robust Tele tones suitable for any musical genre.
The compound radius neck, tapered neck heel, and rear contoured upper bout “comfort carve” make it easy and comfortable to play. Locking tuners make string changes a breeze and help keep the guitar in tune.
The American Ultra Tele is available with maple and rosewood fretboards and five awesome-looking body finishes. At this point, ash bodies are unavailable (or hard to find), except with custom orders. If you want an ash body and stainless steel frets, you can upgrade to the American Ultra Luxe Tele series.
You can check out this amazing guitar for yourself on Amazon by clicking here!
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this American Ultra Tele review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your own review. I will be happy to help you.
- Do you own an American Ultra Tele? How would you rate it compared to a classic Telecaster?
- What do you think is the best feature of this guitar series?
- Would you upgrade to the American Ultra Luxe series to get an ash body and the stainless steel frets?
- What else is on your mind?