Reviews From the Road: Fender USA Nitro Satin Stratocaster

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The Fender USA Nitro Stratocaster is a honey for the money

By Bradley Weinholtz

To me and many others there is no instrument that compares in tone and versatility to a Fender Strat. Many of my personal guitar heroes such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, and Ernie Isley play this iconic guitar. I recently came to grips with the fact it was time to get a genuine American Strat and realized the Fender USA Nitro Satin Series would not break my piggy bank.

I have accumulated a large collection of electric guitars, mainly because I have a hard time parting with anything. My wife thinks I need professional help and calls me a gear hoarder. My studio walls are lined with instruments; more gear is stashed all around the house, in every closet, spilling into the garage, not to mention a few select finds I have on display at work. If it’s a good deal and I have the extra cash, I have no qualms about buying more gear—especially guitars.

Hitting up garage sales and habitual classified ad bargain hunting has led to the accumulation of various and sundry off-brands and imports. My collection includes a smattering of Squiers and a MIM (Made in Mexico) Relic Strat. But now it was time to buy American.

Fender Nitro Strat

The Fender USA Nitro Strat features a ‘70s-style headstock and Fender decal.

I placed my order on Monday and received my guitar that Friday. The minute Haystack informed me my parcel was on the dock I jumped out of my chair to retrieve my prize.

Opening the Fender Pro Series Tweed Guitar Case I had ordered at the same time to protect my investment, I was struck by how the Fender Nitro Strat was much better looking in person than in the pictures.

I had forgotten what it was like to behold a factory-fresh axe. Knowing I was the first person to lay hands on this instrument created a certain euphoria. It’s a moment that’s very rare—even at the largest of brick and mortar music stores. I was relishing every tactile and olfactory sensation during the grand opening.

The weight and balance of the guitar was perfect. The modern C profile and 9.5” radius fit my eager hand precisely. Straight out of the box the Strat was tuned perfectly; I could feel the quality of the instrument and the raw tone of the alder body without plugging it into an amp.

I left the guitar out on display and every person who came by my office fell in love with the color. A couple of the “experts” around here actually thought it was a vintage ‘70s model that had been stashed underneath someone’s bed. I could sense I had picked a winner. A co-worker and very accomplished guitar player suggested we go to his house for lunch to play the Fender Nitro through his Fender 65 Princeton. We never got to lunch; more than hour was expended trading licks. Right then and there I could feel the mojo of a great guitar. It was everything I had expected and more — easy to play with crisp and clear intonation, forgiving response, and that killer Fender Stratocaster tone.

I couldn’t wait to get to rehearsal the next day to show off my American Strat. Presenting it to my bandmates they assumed I had spent twice as much as I actually had. During the rehearsal the American Standard pickups with the no-load tone pots proved their worth cutting through the mix by simply using my volume knob playing rhythm at seven and cranking on the solos at ten.

By the time that rehearsal was over, I had totally bonded, and on that day it became my go-to axe. Since receiving the guitar, I have played it every weekend either rehearsing, recording, or gigging. For me, no modifications were needed other than a pro set up. (I'm a feeble finger picker and I typically do this with every guitar in order to get the most of out of my playing style.) And of course, I religiously change my strings after every 3,000 miles.


See and hear the Fender USA Nitro Strat in action.

The Fender USA Nitro Satin Series Stratocaster represents an amazing deal on a U.S.-built Strat. With its exclusive hand-stained and rubbed honey finish, jumbo frets, maple fingerboard, and searing American Standard pickups with no-load tone pots, it offers enormous bang for the buck.

To learn more about Strats, check out The HUB’s Stratocaster Buying Guide.

Features & Specs

  • Hand-rubbed Honeyburst stain with satin lacquer top coat
  • Contoured alder body
  • Maple neck with modern "C" shape and 22 jumbo frets
  • '70s-style headstock and Fender decal
  • American Standard pickups with the no-load tone pots
  • Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
  • Includes gig bag

Tags: Electric Guitars Fender Stratocaster


# Brod Lou 2014-03-29 13:50
I have played this beautiful instrument and actually like it better than a 50th Anniversary model that I am using on loan. The electronics seem better balanced and the neck feel is truly delightful. The finish gives this guitar a personality of its own that strikes a real contrast to its other sunburst cousins.

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