Fender American Ultra vs Professional II Series Guitars


If you’re looking for a modern, top-of-the-line Fender Strat, Tele or Jazzmaster then your best bet is to consider the American Professional II and Ultra series. But which is the best? Is an American Ultra worth the extra money compared to the American Pro II? In this article, I’ll be comparing the two series head-to-head so you can decide which is the best for you.

Contents:

  • American Professional II vs American Ultra Series Overview
    • Models Available
    • Tone and Pickups
    • Neck Designs
    • Other Differences
    • Similarities
  • Comparing Specific Models
    • Stratocaster
    • Telecaster
    • Jazzmaster

American Ultra vs Professional II Series Overview

Guitars in the Fender American Ultra series have a slimmer modern D neck with a flatter fingerboard radius compared to guitars in the American Professional II series which have a deep C neck. Ultra series guitars have noiseless pickups and locking tuners unlike the Pro II series guitars.

Here is a table showing the key differences between Fender American Professional II and American Ultra Stratocaster, Telecaster and Jazzmaster models.

FeatureFender American Professional IIFender American Ultra
Body WoodAlder/ PineAlder/ Ash
Neck ShapeDeep CModern D
Fingerboard Radius9.5”10”-14”
Fret SizeNarrow TallMedium Jumbo
PickupsV-Mod IIUltra Noiseless Vintage
Tuning MachinesStandard Cast/ Sealed StaggeredDeluxe Cast/ Sealed Locking
Enhanced Body ContoursNoYes
Average Price (USA)$1700-$1800$2100-$2200
Average Price (UK)£1800-£1950£2150-£2250
Fender American Professional II vs American Ultra Series

Models Available

The Fender American Ultra series includes right-handed versions of the Stratocaster (SSS and HSS), Telecaster and Jazzmaster. The American Professional II series includes all the same right-handed versions but also includes some left-handed versions and a humbucker Telecaster model.

Here is a table outlining which models and pickup configurations are available in each series and whether they are available in left-handed or just right-handed versions.

ModelFender American Professional IIFender American Ultra
Stratocaster (SSS)Right and Left-HandedRight-Handed Only
Stratocaster (HSS)Right-Handed OnlyRight-Handed Only
Telecaster (SS)Right and Left-HandedRight-Handed Only
Telecaster (HH)Right-Handed OnlyNot Available 
JazzmasterRight and Left-HandedRight-Handed Only
Models available in the Fender American Professional II and American Ultra Series

Pickups and Tone

Fender American Professional II guitars use V-Mod II pickups whereas American Ultra guitars have Ultra Vintage Noiseless pickups. The Ultra’s noiseless pickups do not produce any hum or suffer from feedback unlike the V-Mod II pickups on the Pro II. Hence, if you are using a lot of distortion then the Ultra will probably be more suitable.

In terms of tone, the American Professional II guitars sound more crunchy and warmer compared to the American Ultra guitars which sound cleaner and brighter.

Guitars in both series have a push/ pull tone pot which activates the additional switching that you won’t find on many other Fender models. The function of this switching varies for the Strat, Tele and Jazzmaster so I’ll discuss them later in the article when we look at each shape individually.

Neck Design

American Professional II guitars have a deep C neck profile and 9.5″ fretboard radius, whereas American Ultra models have a modern D neck profile with a 10″-14″ compound radius fretboard. The D-shape neck feels slightly thinner and flatter compared to the more rounded C-shape neck on the Pro II models.

The American Ultra has a flatter fingerboard and also has a compound radius meaning that it’s more rounded at the nut to help with chords and flatter towards the upper frets to aid with bending.

SpecificationAmerican Professional II NeckAmerican Ultra Neck
ProfileDeep CModern D
Width at 1st Fret0.82”0.80”
Width at 12th Fret0.92”0.86”
Fretboard Radius9.5”10”-14”
Fender American Professional II and American Ultra Neck Dimensions

Guitars in both series feature a sculpted neck heel to aid upper fret access however, on the Ultra it is more dramatic to give the player even easier access to the upper register. You’ll also find rolled fretboard edges on guitars in both series.

You’ll find medium jumbo frets on the Ultra models and narrow tall frets on the American Pro II models with the following dimensions:

  • Pro II (narrow tall frets): 0.090″ x 0.055″
  • Ultra (medium jumbo frets): 0.106″ x 0.036″

Other Differences

  • The American Ultra models have locking tuners unlike the American Professional II models.
  • All American Ultra guitars have enhanced body contours on the back of the guitar which are designed to make them more comfortable.
  • The color options are different in each series. There are fewer colors available in the Ultra series and these are all quite modern looking, whilst the American Pro II series has loads more colors to choose from, both modern and traditional.

Similarities

  • Maple necks
  • Maple and rosewood fretboard options
  • Gloss polyurethane finish on the body
  • Satin finish on the neck
  • 25.5″ scale length
  • 1.685″ bone nut
  • Dot inlays
  • Fender USA 9-gauge strings
  • Chrome/ nickel hardware finish
  • Hard case included

Comparing Specific Models

There are some model-specific differences between guitars in the American Ultra and Professional II series. Let’s take an in-depth look at each model individually in the following order:

  • Stratocaster
  • Telecaster
  • Jazzmaster

Stratocaster

The Fender American Professional II Stratocaster has a slightly thicker deep C neck with a narrower 9.5″ fingerboard radius compared to the Ultra Stratocaster with it’s modern C neck and 10″-14″ compound radius fingerboard. You’ll also find narrow tall frets on the Pro II and medium jumbo frets on the Ultra.

The Ultra Strat has some notable upgrades such as the locking tuners, enhanced body contours and a more sculpted neck heel which are not seen on American Pro II Strat. The neck heel on the Pro II is still sculpted but just not as dramatically.

Both guitars have a 2-point tremolo bridge with a pop-in tremolo arm and also include extra switching. On the SSS models it allows you to activate either the bridge and neck pickup together (without the middle) or all three pickups at the same time. On the HSS versions it coil taps the humbucker pickup. On the Ultra series versions, this switch is located on the volume control and on the Pro II versions it is located on the second tone control.

Both series include SSS and HSS pickup configurations however only the American Professional II series includes a left-handed version of the SSS Strat. Neither series has a left-handed version of the HSS Strat.

Here is a table highlighting the differences between the Fender American Professional II and American Ultra Stratocaster models.

FeatureAmerican Professional II StratocasterAmerican Ultra Stratocaster
BodyAlder/ PineAlder/ Ash
Neck ShapeDeep CModern D
Fingerboard Radius9.5”10”-14”
Fret SizeNarrow TallMedium Jumbo
PickupsV-Mod IIUltra Noiseless Vintage
Tuning MachinesStandard Cast/ Sealed StaggeredDeluxe Cast/ Sealed Locking
Neck Plate4-Bolt4-Bolt Asymmetric
Enhanced Body ContoursNoYes
Average Weight7.5 lbs8 lbs
Color Options3-Color Sunburst
Olympic White
Mystic Surf Green
Miami Blue
Mercury
Dark Night
Roasted Pine
Black
Sienna Sunburst
Ultraburst
Arctic Pearl
Mocha Burst
Texas Tea
Cobra Blue
Fender American Professional II vs American Ultra Stratocaster

The American Professional II Stratocaster has warmer sounding pickups with a higher output and more mid-range emphasis compared to the noiseless pickups on the Ultra Strat which sound brighter and cleaner. Here is a video comparing the tones of the American Professional II (blue) and American Ultra (red/ orange) Stratocasters.

Here are Amazon links to each version so you can check the current prices:

Considering other Stratocasters? Check out my complete guide to the different Stratocaster models to make sure you get the best option.

Telecaster

The main differences between the American Professional II Telecaster and American Ultra Telecaster are the pickups and neck shape. On the Ultra Tele you’ll find noiseless pickups unlike on the Pro II model. The Ultra Tele has a slimmer modern D shape neck and flatter compound fretboard radius compared to the Pro II Tele which has a deep C neck and narrower fretboard radius. Additionally, you’ll find narrow tall frets on the Pro II version and medium jumbo frets on the Ultra.

Both guitars have a sculpted neck heel, however it is more dramatic on the Ultra Tele. The body on the Pro II is made from a slab of wood, whereas on the Ultra you’ll find contouring on the back to make it more comfortable. Additionally, the Ultra has locking tuners.

On both guitars you’ll get additional switching which is activated by the push/ pull tone control. This activates a series mode to fatten up the tone. The Ultra model has a 6-saddle bridge whereas the Pro II has a 3-saddle bridge design.

The American Pro II series includes left and right-handed versions of the SS model as well as a HH right-handed version. The Ultra series only includes a right-handed SS Telecaster.

Here is a table highlighting the differences between the Fender American Professional II and American Ultra Telecaster models.

FeatureAmerican Professional II TelecasterFender American Ultra Telecaster
BodyAlder/ PineAlder/ Ash
Neck ShapeDeep CModern D
Fingerboard Radius9.5”10”-14
Fret SizeNarrow TallMedium Jumbo
PickupsV-Mod IIUltra Noiseless Vintage
Bridge3-Saddle String-Through6-Saddle
SaddlesCompensated Brass BulletChrome Brass Saddles
Tuning MachinesStandard Cast/ Sealed StaggeredDeluxe Cast/ Sealed Locking
Body ContoursNoYes
Average Weight7 lbs7.5 lbs
Neck Plate4-Bolt4-Bolt Asymmetric
Color Options3-Color Sunburst
Olympic White
Mystic Surf Green
Mercury
Dark Night
Black
Miami Blue
Sienna Sunburst
Butterscotch Blonde
Roasted Pine
Ultraburst
Mocha Burst
Arctic Pearl
Texas Tea
Cobra Blue
Fender American Professional II vs American Ultra Telecaster

The pickups on the American Professional II Telecaster sound crunchier and fuller compared to the brighter sounding noiseless pickups on the Ultra Telecaster which do not suffer from humming and feedback. Here is a video comparing the tones of the American Professional II (Butterscotch Blonde) and American Ultra Telecaster (white). You can also hear an example of the Pro I as well (sunburst).

Here are Amazon links to each version so you can check the current prices:

Jazzmaster

The American Professional II Jazzmaster has an alder body whereas the American Ultra Jazzmaster gives you the option of either an alder or ash body which also has a more dramatic sculpted neck heel and body contours.

In terms of the neck designs, the Pro II Jazzmaster has a slightly thicker deep C neck and narrower fingerboard radius compared to the Ultra Jazzmaster which has a slightly narrower modern D neck and wider fingerboard radius. You’ll find medium jumbo frets on the Ultra version and narrow tall frets on the Pro II version. Additionally, the Ultra only has 21 frets whereas the Pro II has 22 frets which are spaced more closely together.

Both versions uses the rhythm/ lead switch slightly differently to most other Jazzmasters by using it to activate the pickups either in series or parallel mode. The push/ pull pot on the Ultra overrides the pickup selector and activates both pickups in series, whilst on the Pro II it coil taps the bridge pickup.

Other differences include the neck binding and locking tuners on the Ultra Jazzmaster which are not seen on the American Pro II version.

Here is a table highlighting the differences between the Fender American Professional II and American Ultra Jazzmaster models.

FeatureAmerican Professional II JazzmasterAmerican Ultra Jazzmaster
BodyAlderAlder/ Ash
Neck ShapeDeep CModern D
Fingerboard Radius9.5”10”-14”
Fret Number2221
Fret SizeNarrow TallMedium Jumbo
PickupsV-Mod IIUltra Noiseless Vintage
BridgePanorama Tremolo SystemVintage-Style Floating Tremolo
Tuning MachinesStandard Cast/Sealed StaggeredDeluxe Cast/ Sealed Locking
Neck BindingNoYes
Enhanced Body ContoursNoYes
Average Weight8 lbs9 lbs
Color OptionsLake Placid Blue
3 Color Sunburst
Mercury
Dark Night
Mystic Surf Green
Ultraburst
Mocha Burst
Cobra Blue
Fender American Professional II vs American Ultra Jazzmaster

The American Ultra Jazzmaster sounds clearer and cleaner due to it’s noiseless pickups compared to the American Professional II Jazzmaster which sounds warmer and crunchier. Here is a video comparing the tones of the American Professional II, American Pro I ( and American Ultra Jazzmaster.

Here are Amazon links to each version so you can check the current prices:

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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