So last year Fender replaced the ‘Standard’ with the new ‘Professional’ range to great debate within the guitar community. However in this case the debate turned into full blown argument if the new range could stand up and replace the ‘Standard’ that’s been present since the 1960’s. Even in the shop it can be said we didn’t want to like the Professionals, because our love for the classic standard was so strong.
However, we like them… alot. They more than stand up in their own right. What you have is a guitar that captures the essence of a classic tone but also pushes the boundaries of conventional guitars with modern elements.
The Professional range has a number of subtle sounding changes that in fact alter some rather important elements of the guitar.
Here are a couple of the more interesting changes…
Across the product line Fender have altered neck profile with the Telecasters, Jaguars, Jazzmasters and Stratocasters to a more pronounced ‘Deep C’ shape. In laymans terms this gives you a more of chunky neck to grip without being like a baseball bat, and gives the range a largely different feeling to the ‘Standard’. One of the smaller changes is the type of fretwire used, It’s now ‘narrow tall’. What this means for the player is jumbo fret height, but with a thinner width. This isn’t very noticeable to the naked eye, but the subtle difference when playing is rather surprising.
So one of the more controversial changes for the Professionals, was that the ‘Custom Shop pickups’ that the standard featured, have been swapped out. These have been replaced slightly less exuberantly named ‘Vintage Moderns'(‘V-Mods’). This is where the Pros’ start to break new ground, as unlike past models each pickup is specifically designed for each position. This no longer means the same pickup for Neck, Middle and Bridge but a blend of different Alnico magnets to give you a distinct voicing. In addition to this change pickup the electronics have been given somewhat of an overhaul. You’ll now find the rear strat tone pot now effects both middle and bridge pickups, in addition to being able to attain a deeper frequency cut than previous guitars. As an added extra upping the versatility of these guitars, they now come as stock with a treble bleed circuit. Making lower volumes no longer a journey to a mushy sound.
The Professional range was dammed by members of the Rockbox staff before we even had it in our hands. We assumed that it wouldn’t even stand up next to the ‘Standard’. We will be the first to admit we were wrong, yes we still like the standard. However the Fender Professional range is a more than worthy successor and for many people eclipses it’s predecessor.