(Inside) Fender 1961 American Vintage II Stratocaster (Pros & Cons)

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
I'd like to see how many they have sold vs how many have popped up here with horror stories.

It's entirely possible that only people who have a complaint share their stories.

It's also possible that the more people that jump on the bandwagon the less likely people with new ones are to share their good ones.

I have an AVII and it's beautiful. Sold my AmPro to get it and haven't regretted the decision once (after the initial sadness of letting a good guitar go).

Well considering there’s basically zero stock worldwide or maybe there’s more in stock now but compared to the handful on here, I’d say fender isn’t worried.

Take a look at the video posted. The guy says fender can’t keep up with the demand for the guitars $1500 and up. They can’t build them fast enough.
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
I'd like to see how many they have sold vs how many have popped up here with horror stories.

It's entirely possible that only people who have a complaint share their stories.

It's also possible that the more people that jump on the bandwagon the less likely people with new ones are to share their good ones.

I have an AVII and it's beautiful. Sold my AmPro to get it and haven't regretted the decision once (after the initial sadness of letting a good guitar go).

I can tell you from my day job (marketing research/consumer insights) that you are correct - more people with complaints share stories than people who are happy with their product/service/etc. You do have "evangelists" who talk about their good experiences, but a lot of people are just happy with their product/service/etc. but not enough to "shout it from the rooftops".
 

EC Strat

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 16, 2018
4,569
Louisville Kentucky
I'd like to see how many they have sold vs how many have popped up here with horror stories.

It's entirely possible that only people who have a complaint share their stories.

It's also possible that the more people that jump on the bandwagon the less likely people with new ones are to share their good ones.

I have an AVII and it's beautiful. Sold my AmPro to get it and haven't regretted the decision once (after the initial sadness of letting a good guitar go).
Aren’t you worried about the difference in the length of the screws in the AVII vs a true vintage?? And that nasty, bad, evil, awful undercoat. Absolutely unacceptable!
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
Aren’t you worried about the difference in the length of the screws in the AVII vs a true vintage?? And that nasty, bad, evil, awful undercoat. Absolutely unacceptable!
That undercoat is a bit 5h!t to be honest, if I end up keeping mine it'll probably get a refin at some point.
If you want your instrument to age like a proper vintage one then its simply not going to happen with a polyester undercoat.
 

EC Strat

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 16, 2018
4,569
Louisville Kentucky
That undercoat is a bit 5h!t to be honest, if I end up keeping mine it'll probably get a refin at some point.
If you want your instrument to age like a proper vintage one then its simply not going to happen with a polyester undercoat.
Well, each to his own. I dont really have a horse in this race bc I don’t care how my guitars age. In my mind it’ll look how it looks. But completely understand folks that do - I’m the same way about tone of my guitars and pedals. So people who don’t give a flip about that will find me to be a bit pedantic and snobby about it. I get it

That said, I have a white blonde AO 50’s and it’s the bomb! I get lots of compliments on how well made it is, how well it plays and how well it sounds. Those are the boxes for me.
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
Well, each to his own. I dont really have a horse in this race bc I don’t care how my guitars age. In my mind it’ll look how it looks. But completely understand folks that do - I’m the same way about tone of my guitars and pedals. So people who don’t give a flip about that will find me to be a bit pedantic and snobby about it. I get it

That said, I have a white blonde AO 50’s and it’s the bomb! I get lots of compliments on how well made it is, how well it plays and how well it sounds. Those are the boxes for me.
All good, and each to his own, it's all a bit of fun! I get this thread though - its a forensic level analysis, some people get hung up on those details but not every single build/finish process in the last 60 years off a major manufacturer's production line has remained same - I am a bit disappointed about the QC and underseal but I'm also realistic that to do a proper nitro finish that has cured takes months. There's things I can live with and things that I can't-ish...
 
Last edited:

Brucegomb

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
198
Hernando
Fend
First off that was an excellent analysis of what Fender is doing with the AV II series.

Regarding the name - I don't know if you saw the post I did on one of the other threads on these, but Fender never actually called the previous series "American Vintage Reissues"; they called them "American Vintage".

I went back through as many old price lists and catalogs that I could find and found these were the names Fender used:

First Generation models:
- "Vintage" was used by CBS from 1982-1984, and by FMIC 1985-1987
- "U.S. Vintage" used 1987-1997
- "American Vintage" used on the January 1998 until these were discontinued between January and June

Second Generation appears about mid-year 1998:
- "American Vintage" used July 1998 until replaced by the August 2012-2017 series

- 2007: Fender adds the Hot Rod Vintage models ('52 Tele, '57 Strat and '62 Strat) so Fender does add the word "Reissue" to the end of the name for the "non-Hot Rod" '52 Tele, '57 Strat and '62 Strat - so the listing in the catalog/price list would read like "American Vintage 1957 Stratocaster Reissue". For some unknown reason they also add the word "Reissue" to the 70s Strat - so maybe there was going to be a Hot Rod Vintage 70s Strat that never made it to market. The word "Reissue" was NOT added to the '62 Tele Custom, '62 Jazzmaster and '62 Jaguar.

- 2008: Fender removes the word "Reissue" from all the listings it was added to in 2007.

-2009-July 2012: Fender adds the word "Reissue" back to those 4 models ('52 Tele, '57 Strat, '62 Strat and 70s Strat). When they add the '69 Tele Thinline, '72 Tele Thinline and '72 Tele Custom in 2011 they also do not have the word "Reissue" in their listing.

In hindsight maybe we made a mistake in calling everything that came before August 2012 "AVRI" and those made from August 2012-2017 "AV". It's pretty clear that the August 2012-2017 series are the outliers - I have always felt that Fender intended that series to fit in-between other production-line Fenders and the Custom Shop. Around 2010 Fender had reworked the Time Machine series, moving them to using the modern radius and larger frets and dropping the NOS finish; so the August 2012-2017 AV series was the replacement for them. Fender should have called THEM something other than "American Vintage", which had been applied to the previous series for 15 years.
Fender naming is all over the board historically and currently. They like to use generic terms in different contexts, like Deluxe, Vintage, Plus, etc. Over and Over.
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
Fend

Fender naming is all over the board historically and currently. They like to use generic terms in different contexts, like Deluxe, Vintage, Plus, etc. Over and Over.

Completely agree! And of course recycling other names - Fender used the name "Elite" for a model in 1983-84, they recycled it as the American Elite series that ran from 2016-fall 2019. And there was a Strat Ultra from 1990-early 1998 that has been recycled to the American Elite Series.

"Roadhouse" and "Lone Star" were originally applied to USA Strat models circa 1996-mid 2000, then pop up as names of MIM models from circa 2004/2005 to mid 2016.
 

Brucegomb

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
198
Hernando
Completely agree! And of course recycling other names - Fender used the name "Elite" for a model in 1983-84, they recycled it as the American Elite series that ran from 2016-fall 2019. And there was a Strat Ultra from 1990-early 1998 that has been recycled to the American Elite Series.

"Roadhouse" and "Lone Star" were originally applied to USA Strat models circa 1996-mid 2000, then pop up as names of MIM models from circa 2004/2005 to mid 2016.
Good point about the Roadhouse and Lonestar. - Most of the MIM (Roadhouse and Lonestar) are decent guitars. However, there has been historic neck quality issues with many MIM models (my experience tells me this).

Does the Powerhouse have a historic USA complement?
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
Good point about the Roadhouse and Lonestar. - Most of the MIM (Roadhouse and Lonestar) are decent guitars. However, there has been historic neck quality issues with many MIM models (my experience tells me this).

Does the Powerhouse have a historic USA complement?

The Powerhouse is the one with the mid-boost, right? The only USA counterpart would have been the Eric Clapton Strat and the USA Buddy Guy Strat. Going back a ways the use of the mid-boost and dummy coil for noise reduction was found in the Elite models of 1983-84.
 

Brucegomb

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
198
Hernando
The Powerhouse is the one with the mid-boost, right? The only USA counterpart would have been the Eric Clapton Strat and the USA Buddy Guy Strat. Going back a ways the use of the mid-boost and dummy coil for noise reduction was found in the Elite models of 1983-84.
Yes, the Eric Clapton version uses a mid boost also and the dummy coil is in the powerhouse Strat (I have one for legacy sake ;-) - I don't think the Eric Clapton has a dummy coil, pretty sure....

Humm. I c The current Buddy Guy strat doesn't have a mid boost, but it's got a soft V neck and MIM Ceramic pickups. One marketing brochure said they were custom wound but I find that hard to believe because the measurements are like a standard MIM (before player). -- Maybe there is an US version of it?
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
Yes, the Eric Clapton version uses a mid boost also and the dummy coil is in the powerhouse Strat (I have one for legacy sake ;-) - I don't think the Eric Clapton has a dummy coil, pretty sure....

Humm. I c The current Buddy Guy strat doesn't have a mid boost, but it's got a soft V neck and MIM Ceramic pickups. One marketing brochure said they were custom wound but I find that hard to believe because the measurements are like a standard MIM (before player). -- Maybe there is an US version of it?

Yes; that's right. The Claptons use noiseless pickups so no dummy coil - first they used Lace Sensors, then moved to Vintage Noiseless pickups in 2001.

Yes, there was a USA Buddy Guy Strat for a while (I think 1996-2005, give or take a year on either end of the timeline) - it was essentially the Clapton Strat with an ash body and the trem unblocked. The neck shape might have been slightly different, but both were V shaped. The USA Buddy Guy kept the Lace Sensors after the Clapton went to the Vintage Noiseless - sticking with them until it was discontinued.
 

Brucegomb

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
198
Hernando
Yes; that's right. The Claptons use noiseless pickups so no dummy coil - first they used Lace Sensors, then moved to Vintage Noiseless pickups in 2001.

Yes, there was a USA Buddy Guy Strat for a while (I think 1996-2005, give or take a year on either end of the timeline) - it was essentially the Clapton Strat with an ash body and the trem unblocked. The neck shape might have been slightly different, but both were V shaped. The USA Buddy Guy kept the Lace Sensors after the Clapton went to the Vintage Noiseless - sticking with them until it was discontinued.
Probably figured they might as well use up the back stock of Lace Sensors. It likely wasn't a huge seller.
 

Ivan975

Strat-Talker
Dec 9, 2017
108
South Saturn Delta
This is a great thread. A big thanks to the OP for all the pics and insight, very useful and informative.
I'm determined to buy the Olympic White ASAP, but I think I'll have to order it online so there will be no opportunity for a close inspection before actually paying for it. That's the only thing that's really bothering me. Aside from that, if the overall quality checks out, I don't really care about the finish. Of course, I'd like the real nitro, but, as I read somewhere before, the ''real nitro'' Custom shop uses these days is not the real thing anyway, due to the regulations, it's way better than this, but still, for double the price - not for me. It's just too expensive IMHO. The AVII is good enough for its price, for my standards, and if I really find the finish that bad I'll have it refinished for EUR250 here. After all, it's just a corporate marketing thing. Would it sell as well with a Custom Shop-grade finish and a $500-$1000 higher price? I don't think so. That would be in the used Custom shop prices ballpark, so...no real reason to buy it. I remember buying my '04 American Series, it had the Oak Grigsby switch inside and I hated that. But it was EUR900 and as an employee, I got a 30% discount. Nothing really vintage correct about the model but I've changed the switch to CRL later and the pickups for Lollars. Truly great guitar. On the AVII I wouldn't change a thing, so, if everything checks out fine, I'll be happy with it. A very, very good Strat for the money.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
This is a great thread. A big thanks to the OP for all the pics and insight, very useful and informative.
I'm determined to buy the Olympic White ASAP, but I think I'll have to order it online so there will be no opportunity for a close inspection before actually paying for it. That's the only thing that's really bothering me. Aside from that, if the overall quality checks out, I don't really care about the finish. Of course, I'd like the real nitro, but, as I read somewhere before, the ''real nitro'' Custom shop uses these days is not the real thing anyway, due to the regulations, it's way better than this, but still, for double the price - not for me. It's just too expensive IMHO. The AVII is good enough for its price, for my standards, and if I really find the finish that bad I'll have it refinished for EUR250 here. After all, it's just a corporate marketing thing. Would it sell as well with a Custom Shop-grade finish and a $500-$1000 higher price? I don't think so. That would be in the used Custom shop prices ballpark, so...no real reason to buy it. I remember buying my '04 American Series, it had the Oak Grigsby switch inside and I hated that. But it was EUR900 and as an employee, I got a 30% discount. Nothing really vintage correct about the model but I've changed the switch to CRL later and the pickups for Lollars. Truly great guitar. On the AVII I wouldn't change a thing, so, if everything checks out fine, I'll be happy with it. A very, very good Strat for the money.

100% agree. The reissues sure have slight differences compared to custom shop but retail to retail is it worth the extra?

That said the new EJ strat 54 reissue in my neck of the woods retails for $3799CAD. I bought my CS 54 60th blah blah blah for $3700CAD used and it’s much closer to a real 54. Still great deals out there but you cannot go wrong with any of these reissues.
 

WilseyFanPDX

Strat-Talker
Nov 12, 2019
357
Portland OR
Hey thanks for taking the time and tearing into one of these. I’ll still probably buy one if used but for me at $3100CAD I’ll hold off.

Kinda weird how they didn’t even use the plastics from the AO line. It’s like for every cool vintage feature they added, they took two away. So strange. I mean there knobs but still.
$3100 is outrageous for what you get if you ask me.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
$3100 is outrageous for what you get if you ask me.

Yes that’s here in Canada so it seems high. Still the 61 strat is $3299, EJ 54 is $3799 and a used custom shop with warranty usually goes between $3200-$4000. Just buy my used CS 54 for $3700. So yeah I’ll probably have one of these but in a few years when the pop up used.
 

Straty_ke

New Member!
Jan 14, 2023
2
Usa
Exactly.
I was about to get to the finish.
It is indeed a somewhat thick poly undercoat underneath.
It does not seem to check either.
You can see in the chip that the wood is quite far down.
This is a massive disappointment to me and because of this I will not be buying one of these.
This in my opinion is what made the previous original 60's model bad.
Hi! I register only because I want to say thank you for your research and post! I ordered the AVii few days ago and one of the most important reason is that I want to owe a very good Strat with thin nitro. Your post helped me to make a decision that I should keep my 50s JV modified and cancel my order. It feels pretty shame for them to put a poly undercoat there. It’s no difference from cheating. Thanks again for your post. Respect!
 

Straty_ke

New Member!
Jan 14, 2023
2
Usa
I love my AV ‘59, but it was a 62 AVRI or a new ‘61 AVII that played and sounded great, I’d love it too.

IMO, some people are making a bit too much over the finish. How does it play, how does it sound? That’s what matters.
In my case, i bought a JV modified 50s and love how it plays. Really dig the 9.5 v neck. However, I still ordered the new Av ii just for the fiesta red thin nitro. I decided to cancel the order after I caught this post. I know AVii is a good guitar but I just want a thin nitro.
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
The dark cloud I'm referring to is the firing of 300 employees on the spot... Including long term senior management. I'm sure you've heard all about it?
Plenty of discussion over on YouTube if not.

And come on man, is there a need take that obvious of a swipe at me?
As for the POLYESTER sealer, yes - I did believe you, but was told by an employee it was likely to be thin.
So I didn't mean to disrespect your assumed authority on the matter, as afterall we're strangers to one another right?
And by the way I do actually gig, I had this guitar out last week and tore it up for a good 3 hours.🙄
So say what you like mate, that reflects on you and your attitude, I don’t care if you’ve been stewing on this forum for 10+ years - respect is respect…
I've not made any assumptions about yourself, so shall we just leave it there?

I love Fender but my love isn’t blind, and I'm not going to defend a miscut or slip with a saw not being rectified, or my truss rod issue for that matter.
It’s bad QC and I’m calling it out, to get rid of that saw mark it’s gonna require the frets popping off and a level of the board as the cut slips to the edge of it and has a groove, the truss problem - I could heat press relief into the neck myself, but it might be a case of the truss rod channel not being cut deep enough. There was also loads of lacquer overspray and tooling marks on the fretboard too, but I've got rid of most of those with a bit of sandpaper, cause I was raised to suck it up and get on with it you see. 👍

We clearly have different standards and ideas about what is acceptable, and what is relative in terms of expectation in the current market.
But if it's alright in your mind, be my guest! Its a difference of opinion which we're entitled to,
and if entitlement is where you think this mentality is coming from then its not the case, it's expectation.
View attachment 610518
So, I had a big man-cry about this as some may recall, got in touch with the shop who got in touch with Fender - took a while but got a response with some options.
I should make note that my truss-rod lack of relief issue seems to have gotten better over time and fallen into a natural relief of .012" right where I like it.

But back to the fretboard scar, they said;
Option 1 - repair/replace the neck at a Fender repair shop; could take 6 months... So that's a no from me.
Option 2 - swap out the guitar for a replacement when the next shipment arrives at the end of April - this leaves uncertainty about any of the new ones not having QC issues.
Option 3 - a reinbursement of approx 10% of the instrument value. This I am keen to accept but it still falls short of the cost of a re-fret and shoot of the board to remove the scar... Have got back to them about that as I'd rather go that route.

Needless to say that I am otherwise happy, the customer service from the shop has been good and this had been rolling on for months, but I did eventually have to ask them nudge Fender and I got a reply within a day.
As for the guitar, the tone is unreal and it plays nice and looks great, people have been keen to comment on this when I've played out with it.
 
Last edited:


Top