A Closer Look: Fender Ultra Series
Published on 01 June 2020
Fender’s Ultra Series blends contemporary performance with timeless style.
You’ll love these instruments!
The Fender Ultra Series is a range of hand-built American instruments. The designs are classic Strats, Teles, Jazzmasters, Precision and Jazz basses, with extra versatility and performance built in. We think these are some of the best Fenders on our walls, frankly. Let’s take a quick skip through some of our favourite features and learn what makes Fender Ultra guitars and basses different from the rest...
Noiseless Pickups and Clever Switching
Fender have worked and worked on their Noiseless technology for years now. They are into their 4th generation of Noiseless pickups, and this are a bit of a triumph. The idea has always been to retain that characteristic Fender chime and twang, without making it bland and generic, whilst getting rid of the hum associated with single coil pickups.
Previous iterations got ever closer to the prize, but we think Fender have cracked it: the Tele has that clean power, the Strat has the vintage sparkle and the Jazzmaster has that well-rounded tone with a little of everything. The basses also have noiseless pickups, making them star performers in the studio as well as the stage.
Guitars fitted with an S-1 switch, like the Stratocaster models, can access a cool feature which brings the neck pickup into the circuit, regardless of your pickup selection. Can we get a Pink Floyd over here? The Tele Ultra models use the S-1 to provide series/parallel options, whilst both models have a treble bleed built into the volume control. Retain that brightness!
The bass models have a powerful 3 band active EQ, for the types of tone-shaping that many bassists consider a necessity these days.
Colours and Sculpting
You’ll have noticed the new finishes? Yes indeed, these are some good-looking guitars! You can still get classic Fender colours like Three-Colour Sunburst (though it’s called Ultraburst here), but there’s a palette of new shades to choose from as well. Cobra Blue is bold and gorgeous, Texas Tea is a subtly metallic black, and Arctic Pearl is the same idea but in White. The metallic sheen catches the light beautifully, and really makes a difference on stage.
Our favourite finish, though, is Mocha Burst! This has nothing to do with our caffeine addiction problems, and more to do with the really cool past-future vibe the colour gives us. You can see it illustrated in some of the pictures here: how stunning? Not all finishes are available on all models, though. For example, the Butterscotch that you see on the Ultra Telecaster is not available on, say, the Jazz Bass.
The Tele also has some beautiful binding on the top of the body (black or white, depending on choice of finish) and some comfort contours on the back of the body. This is something you see quite a lot of more contemporary Teles: the ‘slab’ look is largely preserved on the front (since it makes up a lot of the guitar’s character), but has sculpting on the back like a ‘belly carve’ and extra routing at the lower cutaway for easier fretting. We like! The entire Ultra Series have a sculpted heel, to make that neck joint less of a hassle on your left hand. Again, subtle and totally good.
A Neck Profile for the Ages
The neck is the part of the guitar you have the most contact with, right? This is where the grafting occurs, so if it isn’t happening here, the guitar is out of the competition altogether. Happily, the new neck design on the Fender Ultra guitars smashes it out of the park. We’re talking about a modern D profile, a compound 10-14” radius fingerboard (it gets incrementally flatter the higher up the neck it goes) and rolled fingerboard edges all conspire to bring you a wonderful playing experience. These specs apply to the bass models, too, with medium jumbo frets on board to take some of the pressure off your fingers.
So, we love the Fender Ultra Series, but who are they for? Well, we’d say that these guitars are in a position to appeal to a wide audience. Studio players will appreciate the noise-free pickups and extra switching options, gigging players with enjoy the extra comfort and cool finishes, and Fender fans are getting top-quality guitars that don’t stray far from the illustrious path.
Remember, these are put together by human beings in the USA. These guitar and bass designs are the most famous in the world. The finishes are tasteful whilst being a little different, and the sounds are exactly what you need from a quality Fender. The feel is unsurpassed. What else is there?