The Fender Stratocaster "Strat"
This is a 1994 Antique Burst Stratocaster Ultra. The Ultra models were the highest end production guitars built by Fender, next to their Custom Shop models. They were manufactured between 1990 to 1999. All Ultras will say "Ultra" on the neck plate except for some on the 1st two years of production (1990-91). The Ultra above features highly flamed, figured Maple front and back on an Alder body. There were many types of finishes on the Ultras, such as this Antique Burst, as well as tranparent Black, Blue Burst, and Crimson Burst. All finishes had Flamed Maple showing through. Some earlier models came in solid colors and some of the first models had a one-peice flame maple top and back (see samples below). There was also the unique Fire Storm finish which you can see an example of on my Strat Plus page. They all came with Fender Strap Locks. (I have customized many Strat Plus' like Ultras. Check out my link to the "Customized Strat Plus'."
Other features of the Ultra was the Floyd Rose Type II tremolo system, which was used on some of the Ultras, but not all. It was more common after 1992 and later. String changes are rather simple as you do not have to feed the strings through the tremolo on the back of the guitar, thus no holes on the back plate. You just cut off the end of the string and feed it into the string ferrules. It also reduced the chanced of scratching the body with the strings. What you do have to be careful about is not scratching the body with an Allen Wrench when tightening down the Allen screw on the string ferrules.
The neck is much like that on the Plus and the Plus DX models, with 22 fret skunk striped Maple neck BUT with an Ebony fret board with real abalone dot inlays. The Ultra Series were the only production Stratocasters, that I know of, with Ebony on the fret board instead of Rosewood or Maple. They have Medium-Jumbo frets. The neck has a nice C style radius to it and like the other Plus Series, has the Biflex truss rod. On rare occasion, some did not have the Abalone dot inlays on the neck.
All the Ultras have chrome Plated locking tuners, Bridge Saddles, and roller nut.
As mentioned, the Ultra models also feature chrome plated Schaller locking tuners,Chrome plated Wilkinson nut and then mid-1993 they were changed to the LSR Roller Nut. The one above has the LSR Nut. These reduce the friction when using the tremolo and tuning. On the LSR each string rides on a set of roller bearings. On the Wilkinson nut the strings ride on a roller pin. Great for staying in tune when diving with the Tremolo! compared to the more common brushed type Schallers on the Standard Plus series. Fast strings changes—pull the string through the tuner hole, tighten down the lock, cut off the excess and tune. Fast and easy.
The Ultra features a special wiring system using 4 Lace Sensor pickups. The pickguard comes shielded from the factory. Here are the types of pickups: NECK Pickup is a Blue Lace Sensor which has an increased output with the warmer 50's humbucking sound. It delivers a Gibson P-90 type sound. MIDDLE Pickup is a Silver Lace Sensor which delivers a fat 70's single coil sound with increased output and more midrange. Great for those out of phase sound when combined with the neck or bridge PUs. BRIDGE Pickup is a Dually Red Lace Sensor which is two Red Lace Sensors placed side by side. The Red Lace are the hottest output of the Sensor Series, and gives a fat, punchy humbucking output. Some came with a Gold Lace pickup in the middle position instead of the Silver Lace pickup, but mostly on the earlier models. All I have seen, unless changed out, have a Blue Lace Sensor in the neck.
Sometime you pop open these and find interesting things inside like finding out the pickguard came from Fender's Custom Shop. Some have Ultra stamped in the neck socket!
This is a 1991 Antique Burst Stratocaster Ultra. You will notice that this one has a solid, one piece, flamed, maple top and back.
One thing all Ultras did have, and that was the 4 Lace Sensor and the Mini switch used for the two red Lace Pickups used in the bridge. Very few people know the secret to the Ultra wiring schematics, which produces a unique variation in sound. Here is how the switch works:
Position #1: The bridge pickup using a 3 way mini switch. This alone gives several variations, which are really cool. Here is what the “mini switch” does to the Dually Bridge pickup (and remember too, that these settings can be mixed with the other pickups). Up) activates the front bridge pickup which creates a out of phase hollow sound, which then can be mixed with the middle pickups with the 5-way Super switch. Middle) has the bridge pickups in series creating a hot humbucker sound. Down) activates the back pickup on the bridge to give a single coil sound giving more of a Tele bite sound. The distance of the pickups from the bridge creates different sounds.
Position #2: The Bridge and the Middle pickups mixed together, which can get a multitude of Strat out-of-phase tones because of the Mini Switch and the TBX tone control.
Position #3: Here is where we part from standard Strat wiring. Instead of just running the Middle pickup, this position mixes the Neck PU with the Bridge PU like on any 2 PU guitars, such as a Telecaster. Again, with the Mini Switch you can shape the color of the sound. Full, rich rhythm sounds. And both tone controls are also combined in this position too.
Position #4: Is the Neck and the Middle combined in an out-of-phase vintage Strat tone.
Position #5: Is totally vintage Strat with just the Neck PU and the middle tone control.
As on all the Plus Series, the Ultra comes with Fender’s TBX tone system. The bottom tone control is a stacked set of potentiometers that cuts either treble or bass instead of the standard style of tone that cuts treble only. T (treble) B (bass) X (Cut) thus TBX). When you turn this knob, you can feel a halfway point which is tone neutral. This tone control gives the bridge and middle pickups a unique variety of sounds.
This is a 1993 Fender Stratocaster Ultra. (Serial #N3132907) Once again you will note the features. Chrome everything. The mid 1993 and old Plus' had the Wilkinson nut, so those were chrome plated on these too. Also the name Ultra will appear on the name plate on all 1992-3 and later guitars.
This one is the one peice Maple top and back. I have customized many Strat Plus' like Ultras. Check out my link to the "Customized Strat Plus'."