Fender American Performer Stratocaster HSS Review in 2020 – Before You Buy

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4.8/5
4.6/5
4.9/5
4.5/5

If you want great single-coil sounds without losing thick humbucker tones completely, I recommend that you listen to what I have to say about this beauty.

Fender American Performer Stratocaster HSS specs:

Body type: Solidbody

Body wood: Alder

Neck wood: Maple

Neck shape: Modern C

Scale length: 25.5”

Truss rod: Yes

Fretboard material: Maple and Rosewood options available

Fretboard radius: 9.5”

Number of frets: 22 Jumbo

Nut width: 1.685 inches (43mm)

Pickups: 2 Yosemite Strat Single-coils and 1 Performer DoubleTap Humbucker

Pickup switch: 5-way

Bridge: Vintage-style Synchronized Tremolo

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Fender American Performer Stratocaster HSS Review

Sound

This one has 1 Fender Humbucker and 2 Single-coils, so the tonal balance tilts on the spanky and bright side. All these are great pickups in my opinion.

You can get really crisp, but still detailed tones out of these 2 single-coils. Hum is not distracting and single-coils work well with both, dirty rock and gentle clean tones.

What about humbucker? Usually, I hear people saying stuff like: ‘’Fender can only make good single-coils’’, Fender humbuckers suck!’’.

These are not true, at least not in this case. 

Can you find a better humbucker pickup? Maybe. Are these bad by any means? No.

Humbucker tones are warm, stable, thick, and hum-free. Like it should be. It doesn’t sound flat, muddy, or too dark in my opinion. And I honestly don’t have any complaints about the humbucker or the single-coil pickups of this guitar.

This humbucker has a coil-split function that helps you to get even closer to the original 3 Single-coil Start tones. This is a huge plus and adds a ton of versatility.

Performer Strat has a solid maple body. This gives the tone brightness and helps you with iconic Single-coil sounds.

When I took the overall sounds and pickups configuration of this guitar, all looks and sounds good. This is definitely a great sounding and versatile axe.

But what do you think? Hear how this one sounds:

 

Playability 

The neck shape is modern C. Nut width is 1.68(43mm) and the fretboard radius is 9,5inches. So on the paper, all looks pretty good. I personally like a slightly narrower neck because of my tiny hands, but this guitar is still comfortable and easy to play.

This axe is not made for super-fast sweeping and shredding (of course you can do these if you got the skill), but playability-wise, rock solos, crunchy riffs, and nice melodies are natural and really fun to play with this guitar.

I’ve managed to get my hands on this and many other Fenders with this kind of neck and besides a little bit too high action for me, playability is excellent and the neck feels comfortable. 

The body feels (and looks) great on your lap and picking is easy as it gets. 

Overall this guitar is really easy to play, even though some action adjustments are probably required.  You can easily to this by lowering the saddle with a 0.050-inch hex wrench.

Quality

Price and the fact that this Guitar is made in the USA, make you expect great quality…

and that’s what you get. I can found any other way to say it. The finish looks great, tuning is stable and pickups work like a charm.  

I have nothing to complain and found no long time owners saying that something broke in normal use.

Looks

And the looks? I really like it. Especially Satin Seafoam Green color. Really good looking neck finish was the other nice quality that caught my eye.

I’m not a fan of the big headstock, but I can live with it because all the other aspects of this guitar are so good.

Summary

Pros:

  • Great single coil-sounds, good for funk, rock jazz
  • Humbucker provides nice warm tones, good for blues and light metal
  • Really easy and comfortable to play
  • High-quality
  • Stays in tune well
  • Looks beautiful
  • Works with small hands too

Cons:

  • Out of the box action is too high(easy to fix)
  • Oversize Headstock is not for everybody(me)
  • Not the best option for metal

Quality, sound, and playability are all top-notch. This all-arounder will serve you for years and years. A great choice.

This one is a real treat for those who want more single-coil, but still some humbucker tones from their guitar, and also want comfortable playability. For these folks this guitar is absolutely worth the money.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

What is Fender HSS Stratocaster?

HHS reveals you the pickup configuration of this specific Fender Stratocaster. It means that you have 1 Humbucker at the bridge and 2 single coils(1 in middle and 1 at the neck) after that.

What is the Fender American Performer Series?

American Performer Series instruments by Fender are manufactured in Corona USA. American Performer series guitars usually have Yosemite pickups. These guitars, in general, offer you more quality, better playability, and sounds than their Mexican made Player series little brothers. Although the Player series guitars still are an excellent choice for most players.

 

Alternatives

Versatile Runner-Up – PRS SE Custom 22

This PSR offers you offers a ton of versatility too. Clean tones are really clear and stable. Distorted tones come out dirty and full of spark. The tones have that crunch and crispiness needed it in rock and metal.

The neck has a great feel for crunchy riffs, and fast solos feel comfortable to play with this axe. The value for money is high.  Maybe this guitar lacks some spanky tones, but it compensates this with thick and warm humbucker tones. These are the main reasons why I think that you should maybe check this guitar out too.

You can read my full review of this guitar here: PRS SE Custom 22 Review 2020 – Before You Buy.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Great Budget All-Rounder – Fender Player Telecaster HH

This one is an excellent all-rounder with one of the best split-coil tones I have heard. Modern C neck shape ensures easy playability, and the affordable price makes this guitar a really interesting choice. I definitely recommend that you check this guitar out. Really high value for money.

You can read my full review of this guitar here: Fender Player Telecaster HH Review 2020 – Before You Buy.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

If You Want to Play Metal – ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000

I tried this for the first time in a music store nearby, and it has been one of my favorite guitars since. This guitar is just gorgeous. It handles everything, but it’s made for heavy riffing. A pleasure to play and listen. It offers great value for money with high quality and stunning tones. 

This EC-1000 isn’t as versatile as other guitars mentioned on this post, but when heavily distorted tones are needed, it is my go-to choice.

You can read my full review of this guitar here: ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000 Review 2020 – Before You Buy.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Conclusion

If I wouldn’t own any electric guitars, Fender American Performer Stratocaster HS would definitely be a strong contender if I decided to buy one. It offers you so much versatility and quality. If you want an comfortable to play guitar with great single-coil sounds without losing humbucker tones completely, this axe is definitely worth the money.

If you mainly play metal, there are better choices available, for example, the ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000 which was mentioned above.

In case you want some way to display or give more protection to your new Stratocaster, these articles might be helpful:

I hope that this review helped you out! If you have any questions, leave a comment down below. Feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu Suomala

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