10 Min ReadBy Richard Bienstock
American Professional II: Fender’s Flagship Line’s New Features & Finishes
The most iconic electric guitar and bass designs in history, now with iconic “C”-shaped neck profiles, V-Mod II pickups, fresh Fender colors and much more.
Debuting in 2017, the American Professional Series introduced a host of modern upgrades to Fender’s classic models and set a new standard for electric guitar and bass across genres, styles and stages. The series quickly became established as the one most trusted and played by more artists on more stages – night after night.
Always looking forward in the spirit of innovation, Fender has spent the last four years listening, learning and collaborating with a diverse and devoted assortment of professional musicians in a quest to continually refine and improve the American Professional experience. Now, Fender is proud to unveil the American Professional II – an evolution of its most trusted series. These incredible guitars and basses push the envelope on performance, looks and innovation while maintaining the authentic sound and style that made Fender famous.
“Over the past few years, we have refined and elevated the American Professional series as a result of ongoing conversations with our artist partners,” said Justin Norvell, EVP of Fender Products. “With their feedback and innovation a priority, we reviewed every element across the series, incorporating new specs like a new sculpted neck heel, new pickups, Super Natural neck finish, and various aesthetic refinements including bold colorways, tone woods like Roasted Pine and tortoise shell guards on select models. We stand behind all artists by providing them with the tools they need, no matter where they are creating or performing, and remain committed to making every great instrument even better through thoughtful innovation.”
The American Professional II Series features numerous upgrades designed to elevate the playing experience across Fender’s most legendary models.
A New “Deep C”-Shaped Neck With Rolled Edges
For unmatched comfort and playability, American Professional II instruments feature a host of new player-friendly features, including enhanced rolled edges on a variety of Fender’s iconic “C”-shaped neck profiles, a Super-Natural “non-stick” satin neck finish for a smooth ride up and down and a more ergonomically-shaped sculpted neck heel for easier access to the upper registers. These key features let you play longer and harder – without any pain.
As for the sound? Admittedly, it would be hard to improve upon the Tim Shaw-designed V-Mod pickups introduced in the first iteration of the series. But Fender’s done just that. Great for any playing style, American Professional II instruments feature brand new V-Mod II pickups custom-voiced for pure, balanced tone and designed to maximize articulation without harshness.
V-Mod II and Shawbucker Double Tap™ Pickups
In addition to V-Mod II single-coil pickups, which strike the perfect balance of vintage warmth and crisp clarity, the Stratocaster HH, Stratocaster HSS and Telecaster Deluxe models are equipped with multi-magnet Shawbucker Double Tap™ humbucking pickups for a myriad of new configurations and a more full-throated, punchy tone. Furthermore, push-push electronics allow you to combine the neck and bridge pickups in the Strat – or change from series to parallel in Tele and Jazzmaster models – with the quick push of a tone knob.
And we can’t forget the low end. Packed with the iconic bass sound you know and love, the split-coil V-Mod II pickups on the Precision Bass and Precision Bass V models deliver the vintage warmth, punch and clarity that made Fender electric bass tones legendary. If you prefer more freedom on your fretboard, the J Bass Fretless model offers a smoother,more fluid tone – a distinctly Fender sound since the early ‘70s. Finally, the Precision Bass and Jazz Bass are fitted with HiMass™ Vintage bridges configured for both four- and five-string models.
There’s also new premium bridges across the series, including a 2-point synchronized tremolo with a cold-rolled steel block on the Strat for increased clarity and sustain. The Jazzmaster is outfitted with Mustang® saddles and a Panorama™ tremolo – plus specially-voiced V-Mod II pickups that deliver everything from signature Jazzmaster punch and presence, to vintage warmth and clarity.
The Telecaster models feature a unique dual top-load/string-through Tele bridge with Bullet saddles, which allows players to string the guitar from the ashtray, through the body – or a combination of both for a fully customized playing experience.
Striking New Finishes
But these instruments don’t just feel and sound great — they glow with knockout Fender style. Among the striking new finishes available on American Professional II models are Miami Blue, Dark Night, 3-Color Sunburst, Mercury and Mystic Surf Green. There’s alsoa Strat with a body constructed of Western Red Cedar, which delivers extended harmonic character, a lightweight feel and a unique reddish/brown hue.
“The American Professional II series is the connective tissue that both artists and music fans are seeking now more than any other time in our nearly 75-year history,” said Evan Jones, CMO of Fender. “In addition to making the best tools possible for artists, it’s also very important for us to use the Fender platform to amplify and spotlight how their music is positively impacting the world.”
Diverse, dynamic and dependable, the American Professional II Series is truly the one – for all. Played by more artists on more stages, night after night, this versatile and wide-ranging collection sets the standard by which all electric guitars and basses are measured.
“Music has a special unifying power, and guitar – and the artists wielding the instrument – play a big role in that,” added Norvell. “As always, our creators and artists came first as we refined The American Professional II Series to push the boundaries of guitar forward, deliver epic sound and offer reliability to artists across every genre of music, when the world – and our artists – need it most.”
The Fender American Professional II Series unites a diverse range of artists spanning different genres and styles. From hip-hop to country, and electric bass to guitar, check out some of the artists who rely on the Fender American Professional II Series to bring their music to life.
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Steve Lacy and the Miami Blue Stratocaster
Steve Lacy is a fresh, genre-hopping artist who’s currently leading the charge in a new wave of lo-fi funk and hip-hop.. He’s played guitar in The Internet, produced tracks for Kendrick Lamar, and racked up a Grammy nomination for his own solo debut LP, 2019’s Apollo XXI. While he’s best known for spinning songs into gold – and producing music using just his iPhone and a handful of apps – Lacy also relies on Fender guitars to power his unique sound.
A Fender devotee from his earliest days, Steve Lacy was immortalized with his very first Squier guitar on the cover of his album, Dark Red – hoisting it high on his chest with the strap hitched all the way up. Lacy and his mother had saved to buy the instrument when he first decided to play.
From that first guitar, to his newest acquisition, Lacy still looks to Fender to drive his music. Boasting classic Strat style with the dynamic enhancements of the American Professional II series (and a head-turning hue), check out Steve Lacy playing the new Miami Blue Stratocaster.
Armed with three V-Mod II single-coil Stratocaster pickups and a treble bleed circuit, the sound of his Miami Blue Strat cuts through the air to deliver a tone as distinctive as its ocean-blue color. The instrument’s 22 narrow-tall frets and upgraded 2-point synchronized tremolo make it a note-bender’s delight. It also comes with an Elite Molded hardshell case.
Dive into more details about the new American Professional Stratocaster in Miami Blue.
Orville Peck and the Dark Night Telecaster
Orville Peck is the masked man of country music. Shrouded in mystery, Peck hides his face behind a leather mask festooned with fringe. It’s very on-brand for the Canadian artist’s alternative take on country, blending a throwback sound reminiscent of the outlaw stylings of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard with the punk poet ethos of Patti Smith.
Showmanship and sound are of equal importance to Orville Peck, having noted in an interview with Loud and Quiet that, “The thing I don’t like that I see a lot now is this return of a kind of nonchalant attitude to being a performer. I really just appreciate effort. If I’m going to pay a lot of money to go to a show I want someone to give me the full experience of what I pay for.”
A longtime fan of Fender Telecaster guitars, Peck is often seen playing his custom green sparkle Fender Acoustasonic, but he’s also taken a shine to the new American Professional II Dark Night Telecaster. Its bold look and sound strike the perfect balance between timeless classic and modern mystery.
The Fender Dark Night Telecaster doesn’t just look good, it sounds even better. The “Deep C”-shaped neck profile with rolled fingerboard edges and 22 narrow-tall frets allows you to navigate the fretboard comfortably. It’s also easier than ever to change out your strings thanks to the new dual top-load/string-through Bullet saddle Telecaster bridge. This powerhouse of a guitar is equipped with two V-Mod II single-coil Tele pickups and also comes packaged with an Elite molded hardshell case.
Check out more new features on the American Professional II Telecaster in Dark Night.
Ashley McBryde and the Jazzmaster in 3-Color Sunburst
Listen to songs like “One Night Standards” and “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega,” and you’re instantly struck by Ashley McBryde’s gritty brand of country music. Her lyrics are packed with down-to-earth honesty heightened with every earnest strum of her guitar.
McBryde began to gain notoriety in 2017 after she was invited to play onstage with Eric Church, but her success didn’t happen overnight. She’d been toiling on the Nashville music scene for nearly a decade before the world got a taste of her music. From there, things took off as she racked up accolades for her music and legions of new fans.
Today, Ashley McBryde is paying that goodwill forward as an Artist Ambassador for the Fender Play Foundation, an organization that provides instruments and gear to schools and other institutions to help inspire the next generation of artists.
McBryde cut her musical teeth playing bluegrass, which shines through in many of her songs. Her love of jazz – and her stint as a jazz band vocalist during her years at Arkansas State University – also adds tone and color to her musical style. So it comes as no surprise that McBryde has gravitated toward the new American Professional II 3-Color Sunburst Jazzmaster. Check out Ashley McBryde playing one of Fender’s newest models.
It’s tough to improve upon perfection, but the new American Professional II Jazzmaster seals the deal. With a Series Mode Rhythm Circuit, two V-Mod II single-coil Jazzmaster pickups and a Panorama™ Jazzmaster tremolo, the new 3-Color Sunburst Jazzmaster delivers the crisp, versatile sound fans have come to know and love – with a few upgrades, of course. The guitar also comes with an Elite molded hardshell case to protect your investment.
Get a closer look at the new American Professional II 3-Color Sunburst Jazzmaster.
Este Haim and the Precision Bass in Mercury
One-third of pop rock sister trio, Haim, Este Haim not only holds down the low end on bass, but she also provides harmonies and lead vocals (most notably on the band’s hit song, “The Wire”). The oldest of the three siblings, Este Haim holds a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA, focusing on Bulgarian folk and Brazillian carnival and conga drumming.
Este and her sisters come from a musical family, having played with their parents in a cover band at a young age before starting their own group. It was their 2013 album, Days Are Gone, that catapulted Haim into the spotlight and garnered them a Best New Artist Grammy nomination. Since then, Este and her sisters’ eclectic style has evolved to weave pop, folk, and R&B elements into a unique and percussive tapestry of sound.
One listen (and look!) at Este’s exuberant stage presence, and it’s clear she feels every note – whether she’s contributing to three-part harmonies or plunking down a bass groove. It’s (precisely) why it makes sense for Este Haim to play the American Professional II Precision Bass in Mercury. Her fingerpicking playing style is right at home on this model, delivering power and, well… precision… that rings true in every note.
The Mercury Precision Bass incorporates classic features like a ‘63 P Bass neck profile, as well as modern advancements. Outfitted with a single V-Mod II split-coil Precision Bass pickup and HiMass Vintage bridge, the American Professional II P Bass in Mercury delivers a classic, high-output tone with some serious sustain. Sturdy Posiflex graphite rods reinforce the neck while an Elite molded hardshell case rounds out the package for added protection.
Check out the Mercury Precision Bass.
MonoNeon and the Fender Jazz Bass
It takes a distinctive sound to capture the attention of a true musical icon and notorious perfectionist, but Dywane Thomas, Jr. -- better known as MonoNeon -- did just that with his eclectic style of bass playing. As a result, MonoNeon played several live shows with Prince at the legendary Paisley Park in 2015, calling music fans’ attention to the young bassist’s unique, genre-crossing sound and style.
Since then, MonoNeon has carved out a reputation in his own right, amassing over 130,000 followers on YouTube where he serves up funky slap-bass confections, jams with other artists, and shows off an impressive collection of colorful hats and sunglasses that would make Bootsy Collins stand up and salute. MonoNeon is also a sought after studio-musician, having recorded with Ne-Yo, Prince, Nas, and Mac Miller on individual songs, in addition to releasing several of his own solo albums, including 2017’s full-length disc, A Place Called Fantasy.
MonoNeon’s style can’t be pigeonholed to just one genre. His penchant for improvisational slap bass dips a toe in classic soul, funk, noise, blues, and experimental styles. Part of what gives him such a distinctive, high-energy sound is his approach to playing. Although he’s a righty, MonoNeon plays left-handed on a right-handed bass. When you think of eclectic style and versatility, of course, MonoNeon would gravitate toward the new Fender Jazz Bass -- renowned for its clean tone that’s equally at home in jazz as it is funk, blues, rock, and other genres.
The versatility of the new American Professional II Fender Jazz Bass (or J Bass) comes to life thanks to twin V-Mod II single-coil Jazz Bass pickups and its HiMass™ vintage bridge for increased sustain. The neck is reinforced with Posiflex graphite rods, while 20 narrow-tall frets make it easy to bend notes into submission. The new Fender Jazz Bass also comes packaged with an Elite molded hardshell case.
Check out the American Professional II Fender Jazz Bass.