Fender American Standard vs Professional [Differences]

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Fender lines are very complicated. I know.

Their names are not that informative and getting to know the actual differences among them might be quite some work.

In this article, I’m going to tackle the most common questions about Fender’s entry point to their American-made instruments.

If you just want a short answer about the differences between the American Standard and Professional lines, here it is:

The main differences between the Fender American Standard and Professional lines are that the Standard was replaced by the Professional in 2017. Standards have Modern “C” necks, custom shop pickups, and medium jumbo frets while Professionals come with a Deep “C” neck, V-Mod pickups, and narrow-tall frets.

For those who want to stick around a bit longer, in this article I will talk about the main features of each of these series, and then I will put their specs side by side to better compare them.

Finally, I will give you my insights into which of these models I think could work out better for you.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

Fender American Standard series main features

The American Standard line was Fender’s entry point to their USA-made guitars from the late 80s until 2017.

The concept behind these guitars is clear in their name. This is the Fender standard: No fancy anything, just workhorse guitars that get the job done.

Of course, they also look great and came in modern finishes unique to this series.

Think of the American Standard as what Leo Fender would have built if he was making guitars in the modern eras. His original guitars were not a quest for tone or looks, but what he could put together given the available technology and materials.

Well, perhaps the Standards are not as envelope-pushing as vintage Fenders were for their period, but they are simple, beautiful guitars with a more modern approach.

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Chords
Chords

Most modern features are just quality of life improvements, such as better tuners, bridge, tremolo, electronics, finishes, etc.

These guitars are not designed as vintage reissues although they, of course, look like their older brothers.

American Standards are very solid instruments, and I would argue that they could be one of the most played models in stages across the world by professionals.

If you get the chance to try out any of these, you would surely get hooked.

Fender Professional series main features

To keep things simple, let’s get it out of the way: The Professional line came to replace the American Standard.

The concept behind Professionals is actually the same. They are modern versions (but not over-the-top-robot-tuner-gimmicky experiments) of the original guitars that Leo Fender developed in the 50s.

The Professional is just an update to the American Standard, or maybe just a different new flavor.

This line of guitars has new pickups, a new neck profile, new frets, new electronics, and a new case.

Let’s run down each of these features briefly:

New pickups

Fender introduced their new V-Mod pickups with the Professional series. These are hot pickups designed by the famed pickup maker Tim Shaw. V-Mods are specially voiced for each of the different positions they could take.

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In fact, even the magnets within each pickup are placed to compensate for things such as string thickness, in order to give a more balanced sound.

These are great pickups and I think every Fender enthusiast would enjoy them.

New neck profile

Professionals come with a Deep “C” neck, which is thicker than a modern “C”, but thinner than a more traditional “U” neck. This might be something to get used for players who come from thinner necks, but it surely gives character to this instrument line.

New frets

Frets are now narrower and taller. This is a feature that could make for a more comfortable experience when playing chords. However, I strongly believe that frets are a very personal feature that you might like or hate based on your technique and playstyle.

New electronics

Professionals incorporate a treble bleed circuit. This feature assures that when you turn down the volume knob on the guitar, the tone is not affected. Guitars without a treble bleed circuit would lose top end at lower volumes.

New case

Just a novelty, but here you can see it:

Main differences between Fender American Standard and  Professional series

As you could have seen by now, these are two similar lines of instruments conceptually. 

I would even argue that now that both of these exist, players now have more amazing options to get a true American Fender.

What a time to be alive.

Now to get more technical, here is a table with all the specs from both lines:

SpecAmerican StandardProfessional
Neck profileModern “C”Deep “C”
FretsMedium JumboNarrow Tall
HeadstockModernModern
PickupsCustom ShopV-Mod
Treble bleed circuitNoYes
Made inUSAUSA
ConceptModern but not futuristicModern but not futuristic
CaseYesYes
PriceSimilar (used)Similar

As I mentioned before, the big differences lays in the neck, frets, pickups, and electronics.

Is one series better than the other?

Not really, they are just slightly different takes on the same idea.

I think either of these you end up getting, you would be very happy and the new owner of an amazing tool for making music.

Don’t overthink it, just give them a try.

Which one should you choose?

Here in GearAficionado, I don’t like making the choices for you. I’m here to provide you with the information you need to make the decision that better suits you.

I always encourage my readers to try out the gear before pulling the trigger. Getting to play a guitar with your own hands would always be a way more informative experience than reading a blog post or watching a YouTube video. There are subtleties about the tone and feel that you could only perceive in person.

What works better for me might not do it for you and that’s perfectly fine since we all have different backgrounds and preferences.

However, I can tell you what I think might be better for different kinds of imaginary players I could come up with. Here are my insights into which of these 2 Fender lines you might like better:

  • If you only buy new guitars, go for a Fender Professional
  • If you don’t care if your guitar is used, check out an American Standard
  • If you are used to playing with your volume knob a lot, give the Professional a try
  • If you prefer slimmer necks, check out the American Standard
  • If you prefer fuller necks, go for a Professional
  • If you are a lead player, the frets on an American Standard might work out better for you
  • If you play a lot of chords, maybe the narrower frets of the Professional would be more comfortable for you
  • If you are looking for a bargain, maybe you could get a good deal with an used American Standard