Fender Player vs Fender Player Plus Series Electric Guitars


The Fender Player Stratocaster and Telecaster range offers guitarists the ability to get an iconic Fender electric guitar but without the hefty price tag that comes with an American-made model.

However, many players feel that the Player series lacks some key features and that’s what the Player Plus line-up hopes to address. But is the price difference between a Player and Player Plus Strat or Tele worth it? In this article, I’ll compare all the differences and similarities between the Fender Player and Fender Player Plus line-ups so you can decide which electric guitar model is the best for you.

Overview of the Differences

Fender Player vs Player Plus Stratocaster

The main differences between the Fender Player Plus and Player Stratocaster, are that the Player Plus has noiseless pickups, locking tuners, a push/ pull tone pot and flatter fretboard radius and compared to the Player. However, the HSH configuration and left-handed options are only available on Player models.

Fender Player Stratocaster

Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

Images link to Amazon

FeaturesFender Player StratocasterFender Player Plus Stratocaster
PickupsStandard AlnicoNoiseless
Pickup ConfigurationsSSS, HSS, HSHSSS, HSS
Left-Handed OptionYesNo
Push/ Pull Tone PotNoYes
Treble-Bleed CircuitNoYes
Fretboard Radius9.5”12”
Fretboard FinishGlossSatin
Neck FinishSatinSatin
Nut Width1.650”1.658”
Rolled Fingerboard EdgesNoYes
String TreeMexican FenderUSA Fender
SaddlesBentBlock
Locking TunersNoYes
Gig Bag IncludedNoYes
Fender Player Stratocaster vs Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

Fender Player vs Player Plus Telecaster

The main differences between the Fender Player Plus and Player Telecaster, are that the Player Plus has noiseless pickups, locking tuners, a push/ pull tone pot, contoured body, and a flatter fretboard radius. Only the Fender Player Tele has the HH configuration and a left-handed version.

Fender Player Telecaster

Fender Player Plus Telecaster

Images link to Amazon

FeaturesFender Player TelecasterFender Player Plus Telecaster
PickupsStandard AlnicoNoiseless
Pickup ConfigurationsSS, HHSS, SSS
Left-Handed OptionYesNo
Push/ Pull Tone PotNoYes
Treble-Bleed CircuitNoYes
Fretboard Radius9.5”12”
Fretboard FinishGlossSatin
Neck FinishSatinSatin
Nut Width1.650”1.658”
Rolled Fingerboard EdgesNoYes
Contoured BodyNoYes
String TreeMexican FenderUSA Fender
SaddlesBentBlock
Locking TunersNoYes
Gig Bag IncludedNoYes
Starting Price$850$999
Fender Player Telecaster vs Fender Player Plus Telecaster

Which Models are Available?

The Fender Player Plus line-up includes the Stratocaster, HSS Stratocaster, Telecaster and Nashville Telecaster models. The difference between the Nashville and standard Telecaster models is that the Nashville model has an additional single coil pickup in the middle position.

The standard Fender Player consists of much more electric guitars including then HSH Strat, HH Tele, Mustang, Jaguar and Jazzmaster models as well as the SSS Strat, HSS Strat and Standard Telecaster.

The Player Plus range unfortunately does not include left-handed versions at the time of writing.

ModelPlayer Model AvailablePlayer Plus Model Available
StratocasterYesYes
HSS StratocasterYesYes
TelecasterYesYes
Nashville TelecasterNoYes
Left-Handed GuitarsYesNo
JaguarYesNo
JazzmasterYesNo
MustangYesNo
Electric guitar models available in the Fender Player vs Fender Player Plus Series

Noiseless Pickups

The most notable difference between the Player Plus and standard Player Telecaster and Stratocaster models, is that the Player Plus versions all have noiseless pickups. The standard Player versions have traditional Alnico pickups which are very susceptible to humming whereas the noiseless pickups are much clearer and free from humming.

Despite the traditional pickups suffering from humming, some players still prefer them are it gives them a more vintage sounding Strat or Tele tone. However, if you use a lot of gain or pedals, then the noiseless pickups will be very useful.

Check out this YouTube video for a tone comparison.

Switches and Controls

The Player Plus models have additional functionality due to the switching options. All Player Plus models have a treble-bleed circuit which allows you to retain the high-end frequencies when you roll back the volume control.

The push/ pull tone pots are different on each Player Plus model so let’s take a look at them individually.

SSS Stratocaster

The Player Plus Strat has a push/ pull tone pot activates the neck pickup in positions 1 and 2 on the pickup selector. This allows you to activate either the bridge and neck pickup together (without the middle) or all three pickups at the same time.

Pickup selector on Player Plus when tone pot is in the “up” position
Pickup selector on standard Player models and Player Plus models when the tone pot is in the “down” position

HSS Stratocaster

On the Player Plus version of the HSS Stratocaster the tone pot has a push/ pull mechanism allowing you to coil split humbucker. This allows you to achieve more of a single-coil type tone with more treble and less bass and mid-range emphasis with the bridge pickup.

Telecaster

The Player Plus Telecaster has a push-pull tone pot which when in the “up” position, allows you to activate both pickups in series and bypass the pickup selector resulting in a higher output to make them sound more like a humbucker pickup. This adds some great functionality to the Player Plus Telecaster which allows the player to achieve an additional tone.

Nashville Telecaster

At the time of writing, the Nashville Telecaster is only available in the Player Plus series and not in the regular player series. The additional middle pickup on the Player Plus Nashville Telecaster with it’s 5-way pickup selector adds some extra functionality to the Tele. Additionally, the push-pull tone pot allows the neck pickup to be engaged in positions 1 and 2 (like with the Player Plus SSS Strat).

Body Shape

The Player Plus and Player Stratocaster models both have the same classic shape. The Player Plus Telecaster has a contoured edge on the body to allow it to sit more comfortably on the knee, compared the Player Telecaster which does not have any contouring.

Neck

Although both the Player and Player Plus models have a satin finished neck, only the Player Plus models have a satin finished fretboard as well which feels less sticky and faster to play on compared to the Player’s gloss finish.

The fretboard radius is slightly flatter on the Player Plus models (12″) compared to the standard Player models (9.5″). The wider radius is preferred by some players as it prevents choking when bending strings and allows you to get a lower action. The Player Plus guitars also have a wider 1.685″ nut compared to the narrower 1.650″ nut found on the Player models which allows the strings to be spaced more consistently.

The edges of the fingerboard are also rolled on the Player Plus models to the same specification as the American Fender Strat and Tele models giving them a more premium feel.

Hardware

  • Player Plus models all have locking tuners unlike the regular Player models. They are the same locking tuners as used on the American Ultra series which is Fender’s most premium line.
  • Player Plus Stratocasters have steel block string saddles to increase sustain compared to the bent steel string saddles on the Player Strats.
  • The Player Plus models have a USA Fender String Tree unlike the Player models.

Colours and Finishes

The Player Plus models come with more contemporary finishes to match the more modern features compared to the regular Player models. On the Player Plus models you’ll get the option of some two-colour finishes unlike the regular Player models which are all solid colours except for the sunburst.

Here are a list of colour options.

Fender Stratocaster (SSS)

Player:

  • Black
  • Polar White
  • Sunburst
  • Buttercream
  • Tidepool
  • Capri Orange
  • Silver

Player Plus:

  • Aged Candy Apple Red
  • Sunburst
  • Olympic Pearl
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Opal Spark

Fender Stratocaster (HSS)

Player:

  • Black
  • Polar White
  • Sunburst
  • Buttercream
  • Tidepool
  • Capri Orange
  • Silver

Player Plus:

  • Belair Blue
  • Cosmic Jade
  • Aged Candy Apple Red
  • Silverburst

Fender Telecaster

Player:

  • Butterscotch Blonde
  • Black
  • Tidepool
  • Polar White
  • Capri Orange
  • Sunburst

Player Plus:

  • Cosmic Jade
  • Silver Smoke
  • Aged Candy Apple Red
  • Sunburst

Player Plus Nashville:

  • Butterscotch Blonde
  • Opal Spark
  • Aged Candy Apple Red
  • Sunburst

Gig Bag

The final difference in terms of features is that the Player Plus models come with a deluxe gig bag unlike the Player models which do not come with a gig bag. The gig bag is a nice touch on the Player Plus models and will offset the additional price slightly if you plan to purchase a bag anyway.

Price Difference

In the USA, Fender Player Plus models retail at $999 whereas Fender Player models retail at $850, making the Player Plus $150 more expensive. In the UK, Fender Player Plus models retail at £939 whereas Fender Player models start at £719 making the Player Plus £220 more expensive.

In all cases, it is still possible to shop around for a guitar which is below retail price so make sure you check if there are any deals on at the time of buying.

The Similarities

Here’s a quick overview of the features that stay the same between comparable Fender Player and Player Plus models:

  • Alder body wood
  • Maple necks with a satin-finish
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • C-shape neck
  • Made in the same factory in Mexico
  • Bolt-on neck construction
  • Nickel silver frets and synthetic bone nut material
  • Overall weight
  • Heel joint (both are not contoured)
  • Screw-in two-point tremolo

Is a Player Plus Model Worth It?

Whether a Player Plus guitar is worth the extra money compared to a Player series guitar is dependent on whether the extra features are necessary to you. The main differences between the models are the extra switching and noiseless pickups on the Player Plus versions, so if you need these then it’s worth the money.

However, both guitars are made in the same factory so the Player Plus models are not necessarily “better” than the Player models, they just have extra features. The only features which most would consider an “upgrade” are the locking tuners, gig bag and saddle.

Here are some more articles you might enjoy:

I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.

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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