The Fender Stratocaster "Strat"
Plus Deluxe Series
On this page I am going to discuss the Fender Deluxe Stratocaster Plus. There is a lot of cross over between the Standard and Deluxe Plus', so to prevent from being redundant, I am not going to share all there similarities, but rather their differences. To get the full scoop on the Strat Plus series, such as all the colors they came in, types of roller nuts, tuners, necks, wiring, etc, please click on this link about the Stratocaster Plus.
The Strat Plus Deluxe Series, introduced in July of 1989, had some crossover with the Standard Plus. Now here is the odd thing about the very first (Version 1) Deluxe Plus. For around 6 months they came fitted with a Silver/Silver/Blue combination of Lace Pickups. Oddly enough, some of the first Deluxe Strat Plus' also came with a split Wilkinson nut long after Fender stopped using them on the Standard Plus' which were already using the full Wilkinson nut. Many of the Version 1 Plus DXs also had Sperzel tuners (while the Standard Plus at this time used pretty much only Schaller tuners), and even weirder was the fact that many came with an E4, serial number even though they were introduced in 1989! Fender also used the E8 or E9 serial number as well at this same time. Why would Fender do that? It was like they were starting all over again as they did with the Standard Plus in 1987! Maybe using up old parts and serial number decals? Ummmm. By 1990 things started being more consistent, and the DXs came with full Wilkinson nut, Schaller Tuners, Blue/Silver (somtimes Gold)/ and Red Lace Sensors pickups. Also more acurate serial numbers were used around this time.
Also, some Plus Deluxe guitars have solid colors on Alder while others used a beautiful transparent color, often with a burst around the edge, on Ash. Some, but not all, had Ash laminated front and back on Alder, thus the burst edging on some transparent colors. Also some of the Deluxe Models came with a pop-in Chrome tremolo bar while others had the screw-in type with the white tip. The pop-in type were most common between 1989-1993. I have seen people get in endless arguments about what a Plus is or isn't—but the truth is, they vary. Remember—with Fender inconsistency is the rule of thumb.
One thing is for sure—even though they vary, all Plus guitars had: locking tuners, a roller nut (which means the neck will not have string trees), and will have Lace Sensor pickups. (I have seen American Strats with Lace Sensors that people try to pawn off as a Plus). The main way you can tell a Deluxe from a Standard is simply by the pickups. A DX will have usually the Blue, Silver, Red Lace pickups. While the Standard uses the Gold Lace pickups.
Some of the DX models came with the American Standard two-point floating bridge while others came with the Fender American "Floyd Rose" Deluxe Locking bridge.
The Fender Deluxe Locking Bridge is loved by some and hated by others. Some claim it cuts down sustain and other say it increases it. I personally like them. To change strings, you simply cut off the ball-end of the string and feed it into the bridge saddle under the machines steel barrel and then tighten down the Allen Screw. Fast and east. No feeding strings through the tremolo in the back of the body thus risk scratching your guitar. Thus the back cover is solid as there is no reason for the hole for the strings. Also setting the intonation is tricky. You do it from the underside of the bridge (from the back of the guitar with the the trem-cover off). There is a set of allen screws that you loosen to move the string saddle back and forth. Again, NOT ALL Strat Plus Deluxe's use these. They are more common from 1996 onward, even though they appear on some ealier models and on some Ultra models.
There has been a lot of confusion about these tremolos. Over the years I saw these called Mini-Floyd Rose, Deluxe Fender Floyd Rose and a Floyd Rose Type II. Even at Fender recently there has been discussion about what these were called. The early ones had Fender written on tremolo arm side and had Floyd Rose on the upper side (like the one above). Later on, they came with no name on them. Weird, eh? One current Fender employee told me they were nick named the Blanda Bridge named ofter George Blanda who they were told designed it. BTW, George was head of R&D at Fender around the time Fender's Custom Shop started up. He built the prototypes for Clapton back in the day as well as guitars for other well know artists. I decided to find out the real scoop, so I contacted George and asked him about these bridges. Here is what he wrote back:
"I did design this bridge. It is obviously inspired by the original Floyd Rose but we wanted to develop a more user-friendly locking tremolo. At that time, a lot of people didn’t want some of the features and hassles of the original. It started out as a Fender project but about the time that the prototype was done Fender entered into a distribution agreement with Floyd Rose. In order to fill a hole in Fender’s Floyd Rose lineup, It was agreed that Fender would promote this as a Floyd Rose product. This was both to lend credibility to the new design and to increase sales of Floyd Rose branded product by going to a broader customer base. This worked out well for both parties. When the Fender and Floyd Rose distribution agreement ended we continued to sell this tremolo but with the Floyd Rose logo removed. I think our marketing description was Fender Locking Tremolo."
Below is an advertisement from Fender showing the new improved Strat Plus Deluxe model. Notice the 1st DXs had the Silver-Silver-Blue Lace Sensors! This add really tells it all!
A Sample of one of the 1st Strat Plus DX guitars:
This early 1989 Gun-metal Blue Metallic Plus DX model (I changed one above to a Pearloid like a dummy years ago) was one of the very first DX to come off the Fender production line. (I will talk about the supposed 1984 serial numbers in a few moments). This one came with the Split Nut; silver/silver/blue Lace Sensor pickups and all the amenities of a Strat Plus. Many, but not all, of the DX models had the pearloid pickguard. ALL the early models, from 1987 through 1990-1 came with a plain white pickguard.
As mentioned already, the Version 1 Plus DX (1989 to 1990) came with two Silver Lace (neck and middle) with a Blue Lace in the bridge as seen in this model above.
In mid-1990 Fender changed over most of the DX models to the Blue, Silver and Red Lace Sensor pickup combination. (Which we will talk more about in a moment.)
Just to sidetrack a little! The red, Silver and Blue Lace Sensors were also used on the James Burton Signature Telecasters. The one below is a 1989 USA James Burton Signature Telecaster in a Frost Red on a very heavy chunk of Ash with all hardware in a Black Chrome. (Serial #E902100)
Above you can see a beautiful 1997 Transparent Crimson Red Silver Burst Strat Plus DX on an Ash body. Notice the Floyd Rose II bridge. The above pictures show the Fender Floyd Rose Locking bridge a little better. Many of the transparent models were made from Ash, making them a little heavier in weight.
If you want a more complete color list, I have that on the Standard Stratocaster Plus page. I cover colors in detail with pictures of each.
No need for repetition.
In the next picture you can see the Blue, Silver, Red Lace Sensor pickup combination. (Some came with a Gold Lace in the middle too, as seen in some of the early 1990's models. It is not common but they are floating around out there!) The Lace Sensor pickup family has a unique radiant field barrier system that surrounds both the coil and the magnets, eliminating the annoying 60-cycle hum so common to single coil pickups. The Lace Micro Matrix Combs replaces the traditional bobbins, yeilding a wider tonal range and better string balance than the traditional pickups. The picture on the left are the later replacement Lace Sensors as they do not have the word Fender on them.
As stated before, from late 1989 to late 1990, the DXs came with two Silver Lace (neck and middle) with a Blue Lace in the bridge as seen in this model above.
In late 1990 Fender changed over most of the DX models to the Blue, Silver and Red Lace Sensor pickup combination. (Which we will talk more about in a moment.)
The Blue Lace Sensor has increased output compared to the Gold Lace and has a warmer P-90 Gibson flavor to it. I like to use it ona clean amp setting for a powerful, rich, smooth blues or jazz sound. With distortion, it can be silky smooth with no raspy edges.
The Silver Lace Sensor gives a fatter vintage 70s Strat sound with a little increased output and more midrange. This pickup works great in switch positions #2 and #4 in giving those out-of-phase sound Strats are famous for.
The Red Lace Sensor is the hottest output of the Lace Series, and gives a fat, punchy humbucker sound. It has lot's of bite and is most often used in the bridge. Some of the Tele Plus' and the Strat Ultras used the Red Lace in a Dually configuration, often with a switch to split one of the two pickups off.
This is a is a fine example of a 1996 Sunburst ASH STRATOCASTER PLUS DELUXE with all the deluxe features. This is a 1996 Anniversary Model, unfortunately someone removed the sticker off the back of the headstock. Please note the solid tremolo plate on the back. Since this has the Fender Floyd Rose II bridge, the strings slip into the top of the bridge saddles (after you cut off the string nut) and the allen screw is tighened down on the string.
This is a 1991 BLACK MYSTIC BLACK STRATOCASTER PLUS. (Serial #N1034777). I have owned hundreds of Strat Plus guitars. I have only seen this color 3 or 4 time over the years and this is the only one I have ever owned. Essentially, it looks gloss black. But when the light hits it, it has a fine green metallic pearl in the clear coat. I talk about this color on the Plus page in the area entitled Color Controversy. This is a very rare finish that only came on a limited number of the Deluxe models. Once again this has the Fender Floyd Rose II Bridge and the Blue, Silver and Red Fender lace Sensors.
Above is a 1993 Vintage White Plus DX that has aged to a real nice cream color. You clearly see the Blue, Silver, and Red Lace Sensor pickups on this DX Plus. This color is NOT Arctic White. Funny thing is, Vintage White was not listed as used on the Plus Series until 1997, even though Fender introduced the color in 1986 on their Vintage Reissue Strats. This is a 1993! Go figure! Arctic White is ligher and whiter. I have own both the Vintage White and the Arctic White, but this color is my favorite of the two! Maybe because it looks...ah...vintage!!!! LOL!
Here is an example of three of my Sunburst Strat Plus DX models, all with Alder bodies. From the left to the right: the 1st pict is a 1990, which has a pop-in tremolo bar rather than the screwed-in type. You will notice that it even came with a plain pickguard and Maple neck. The 2nd pict is a 1995 model with Rosewood fret board, and the 3rd pict is a 1997 also with Rosewood fret board.
This is a 1993 Version 1 Crimson Burst Strat Plus Deluxe on an Ash laminated top and back on Alder.This one is more unique in that it goes from a deep red to a transparent red not having the silver around the edges as the Version II Crimson burst Strats had. You can read about this change on this color on my Strat Plus page. Here is what Fender did with this color. They used the same technique as found on Candy Apple Red, but instead of using a sliver or gold metallic base coat, they shot a vintage white color down around the edges. This was followed, like on CAR, with transparent red color coats and then the whole body is clear coated. It is a fairly rare color. The solid Lipstick Red is down the same way but does not have the transparent burst front and back. Fender shot the whole guitar in a vintage white with several red transparent coats and then clear coated. It creates a really deep blood red. Very cool.
This one, unlike the Red DX above, this one has the American Standard Bridge.The edges are a deep red color while the center shows the grain of the Ash. It is very subtle and beautiful.
More coming soon!