The Fender American Professional II Series marks a new chapter in premium guitar building—informed by artist feedback and advanced research. High-quality American craftsmanship and pro-focused upgrades are designed to bring greater versatility and expression to serious players. Expanding upon the original American Professional series, this new generation offers features like rolled fingerboards, deep ”C” necks with Super-Natural finish, DLX sculpted neck heels, updated V-Mod II and Double Tap humbucking pickups, upgraded bridges and intuitive push/push controls.
Jose Rios is a Grammy-winning producer and guitarist for The Free Nationals. His retro-yet-forward-thinking aesthetic is steeped in ‘60s and ‘70s soul and funk, and simultaneously projects a modern sound. While the group is known as Anderson .Paak’s backing band, The Free Nationals are on a trajectory of their own—opening for Beyoncé and recently releasing their self-titled debut album. A fan of Fender instruments, Rios has experience with a variety of Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars (including the original American Professional Strat HSS), so we invited him over to check out the new American Pro II models and share his first impressions.
FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL II STRATOCASTER
The Fender American Pro II Stratocaster is full of new features—from the sparkle and sustain of the cold-rolled steel block 2-point tremolo bridge, to the shimmer of stunning new colors like Mystic Surf Green. After playing a bit, Rios shares, “Right out the gate, it’s a classic Fender Strat. It feels good and has a great tone right out the box." Rios praised the new push/push pots for advanced pickup switching options—a feature many professionals favor for ease-of use. "The push/push obviously is the new thing, so that's definitely nice—adds a little bass to your bridge pickup.” He also senses the updates to the neck. “This guitar is really easy to play. The neck feels a little softer than the other guitars that I’ve tried from Fender. My hands slide easily up and down the neck.”
FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL II STRATOCASTER HSS
We were excited to hear Jose's thoughts on the new American Professional II Stratocaster HSS because of his familiarity with the original American Professional Strat HSS. “I’ve been using an American Pro I Strat HSS for years now, and it’s gone everywhere with me—all over the world—and it’s never let me down.” He noted a difference in tone with the new V-Mod II and Double Tap humbucking pickups and shared his love of Stratocaster guitars with humbuckers. “A Strat with the humbucker on it—you're going to tell the difference immediately from a single coil Strat. Your distortions are a little creamier. They’re a little louder. Your solos cut through better. You have that option to kick it into overdrive—so that's the biggest difference between a humbucker and single coil for me.”
FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL II TELECASTER
The American Professional II Telecaster allows for detailed control over twang and spring, thanks to its new top-loading and string-through bridge. Rios reacts to the power and detail of its new sound. “I’ve been a Strat guy most of my life, but I really do love the sound of a Tele. It has a really nice tone right out the gate—classic and twangy. The Tele has a lot more bass on the neck pickup; and the bridge pickup is great for soloing. You don’t really need a humbucker—with the right distortion combination on this thing, you’ll get a lot of creamy tone.”
Fender is in constant pursuit of building the most expressive, player-friendly instruments for artists around the world, and the many thoughtful enhancements found in the American Professional II collection are a testament to their efforts. Check out all of the guitars in the Fender American Professional II line:
- Fender American Professional II Stratocaster
- Fender American Professional II Stratocaster HSS
- Fender American Professional II Telecaster
- Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster
Keep up with Jose Rios.