Fender American Vintage II vs Original Series Electric Guitars


Fender recently released a new series of electric guitars, the American Vintage II. This has left a lot of guitarists wondering what the difference between the American Original and American Vintage II guitars is. In this article, I’ll directly compare each version so you can figure out which one is right for you.

Contents:

  • American Vintage II vs Original Series Overview
  • American Vintage II vs Original Stratocaster
  • American Vintage II vs Original Telecaster
  • American Vintage II vs Original Jazzmaster

American Vintage II vs Original Series

Here is a list of the different electric guitars available in each series:

Stratocaster:

  • American Vintage II 1957
  • American Vintage II 1961
  • American Vintage II 1973
  • American Original ’50s
  • American Original ’60s

Telecaster:

  • American Vintage II 1951
  • American Vintage II 1963
  • American Vintage II 1975 Deluxe
  • American Vintage II 1977 Custom
  • American Original ’50s
  • American Original ’60s
  • American Original ’70s Custom

Jazzmaster:

  • American Vintage II 1966
  • American Original ’60s

In this article I’ll be comparing all the different versions but there are some key differences to note that are applicable for all three shapes:

  • All American Vintage II guitars have a 7.25″ fingerboard radius and all American Original guitars have a 9.5″ fingerboard radius
  • The neck shape on every model is different
  • The pickups on every model are different

Fender American Vintage II vs Original Stratocaster

There are 5 different versions available:

  • American Vintage II 1957
  • American Vintage II 1961
  • American Vintage II 1973
  • American Original ’50s
  • American Original ’60s

Here is a table outlining all the specification differences between the different versions.

SpecificationAmerican Vintage II
1957
American Vintage II
1961
American Vintage II
1973
American Original
‘50s
American Original ‘
60s
Body WoodAlder/ AshAlderAshAshAlder
Body FinishGloss NitrocelluloseGloss NitrocelluloseGloss PolyurethaneGloss NitrocelluloseGloss Nitrocellulose
Neck FinishGloss NitrocelluloseGloss NitrocelluloseGloss PolyurethaneGloss NitrocelluloseGloss Nitrocellulose
Neck Shape1957 “V”1961 “C”1973 “C”Soft VThick C
Fingerboard MaterialMapleRosewoodMaple/ RosewoodMapleRosewood
Fingerboard Radius7.25”7.25”7.25”9.5”9.5”
InlaysBlack DotClay DotBlack/ White DotBlack DotWhite Dot
Truss RodVintage-StyleVintage-StyleBullet StyleVintage-StyleVintage-Style
PickupsPure Vintage ‘57Pure Vintage ‘61Pure Vintage ‘73Pure Vintage ‘59Pure Vintage ‘65
Pickguard1-Ply Parchment3-Ply Mint Green3-Ply Parchment1-Ply Eggshell3-Ply Mint Green
ControlsAged WhiteAged WhiteAged WhiteEggshellAged White
HeadstockStandardStandardOversizedStandardStandard

The American Vintage II 1957 and American Original have V-shape necks whereas the American Vintage II 1961, American Vintage II 1973 and American Original ’60s have C-shape necks.

C-shape necks are more curved and typically the most universally comfortable, whereas V-shape necks are better for players who rest their thumb on the back of the guitar or over the top.

Check out my guide to the different Fender neck profiles to learn more.

The three American Vintage II Stratocaster models all have a 7.25″ fretboard radius, whereas the American Original ’50s and ’60s Stratocasters have a 9.5″ fretboard radius.

The smaller radius on the American Vintage models means the fingerboard is more curved which is often preferred for chords, whereas the flatter fingerboard on the American Original models is better for bending strings.

All versions have a nitrocellulose gloss finish except for the American Vintage II 1973 version which has a polyurethane gloss finish. Polyurethane finishes are more durable and less prone to mechanical damage, but nitro finishes are better if you want a “relic” look and true vintage finish.

There are also different colours in terms of both the body finish, pickguard and controls across the different versions. The 1973 American Vintage Strat also has an oversized headstock whereas the other models have the smaller standard-sized headstock.

Similarities

Here is a list of key similarities between all 5 versions:

  • Maple neck
  • 4-bolt neck construction
  • 21 vintage-tall frets
  • 1.65″ bone nut
  • Pure vintage synchronised tremolo bridge with bent steel saddles
  • Nickel/ chrome hardware finish
  • Pure vintage tuning machines
  • 0.010-0.046″ stock strings

Fender American Vintage II vs Original Telecaster

There are 4 different versions available:

  • American Vintage II 1951
  • American Vintage II 1963
  • American Original ’50s
  • American Original ’60s

Here is a table outlining all the specification differences between the different versions.

SpecificationAmerican Vintage II
1951
American
Vintage II
1963
American
Original
‘50s
American
Original
‘60s
Body WoodAshAlder/ MahoganyAshAlder
Neck Shape1951 “U”1963 “C”1952 “U”‘60s C
Fingerboard MaterialMapleRosewoodMapleMaple
Fingerboard Radius7.25”7.25”9.5”9.5”
InlaysBlack DotClay DotBlack DotWhite Dot
Truss RodVintage-StyleVintage-StyleVintage-StyleVintage-Style
PickupsPure Vintage ‘51Pure Vintage ‘63Pure Vintage ‘52Pure Vintage ‘64
Bridge3-Saddle Brass3-Saddle Steel3-Saddle Brass3-Saddle Steel
Pickguard1-Ply Black3-Ply Parchment1-Ply Black3-Ply Eggshell
ControlsKnurled DomeKnurled Flat TopKnurled DomeKnurled Flat Top
Switch TipBlack BarrelBlack Top HatBlack BarrelBlack Top Hat

The American Vintage II 1951 an American Original ’50s both have very similar U-shape necks which feel quite chunky, whereas the American Vintage II 1963 and Original ’60s have quite universally comfortable slimmer C-shape necks.

Check out this comparison between C and U shape necks to learn more about the differences.

The American Vintage II Telecaster models all have a 7.25″ fretboard radius, whereas the American Original ’50s and ’60s Telecasters have a 9.5″ fretboard radius.

The American Original models have a flatter fingerboard which is better for bending strings whereas the American Vintage models have a very curved fretboard which some players find easier for holding chords.

All versions have a gloss nitro body and neck finish but differ in terms of their color choices. The controls, switch tip and inlays also vary between the different versions.

Similarities

Here is a list of similarities between the 4 versions:

  • Maple neck
  • Gloss nitrocellulose body and neck finish
  • 4-bolt neck construction
  • 21 vintage-tall frets
  • 1.65″ bone nut
  • 3-saddle bridge
  • Nickel/ chrome hardware finish
  • Pure vintage tuning machines
  • 0.010-0.046″ stock strings

Fender American Vintage II vs Original Jazzmaster

Here is a table outlining all the specification differences between the different versions.

SpecificationAmerican Vintage II 1966American Original ‘60s
Neck Shape1966 “C”Mid ‘60s C
Fingerboard Radius7.25”9.5”
InlaysPearloid BlockWhite Dot
Truss RodVintage-StyleVintage-Style
PickupsPure Vintage ‘66Pure Vintage ‘65
Pickguard3-Ply Parchment4-Ply Tortoiseshell
Control DesignWhite Witch HatAged White Witch Hat

Both guitars have a C-shape neck but they feel different due to the fingerboard radius. The American Vintage II 1966 Jazzmaster has a more curved fingerboard due to its smaller 7.25″ radius compared to the American Original which has a flatter 9.5″ radius.

The American Original fretboard is the most universally comfortable compared to the very curved American Vintage fretboard.

The pickguard and body/ neck color options are different on the American Vintage II Jazzmaster and the Original ’60s Jazzmaster. There are also some other minor cosmetic differences including the control design and fretboard inlays.

Similarities

Here is a list of key similarities between the American Vintage II and Original Jazzmaster:

  • Alder body
  • Gloss nitrocellulose neck and body finish
  • Maple neck
  • 4-bolt construction
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 21 vintage-tall frets
  • 1.65″ bone nut
  • Vintage-style floating tremolo with pop in arm
  • Nickel/ chrome hardware finish
  • Vintage style tuning machines
  • Rhythm/ lead circuit
  • Aged white switch tip
  • 0.010-0.046″ strings

Check out this comparison between the Fender American Original and American Professional II series.

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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