Fender Stratocaster Plus Deluxe

Fender Stratocaster Plus Deluxe Gun Metal Blue

1989 Fender Stratocaster Plus Deluxe in a beautiful metallic Gun Metal Blue color. This Fender Strat Plus Deluxe is one of the earlier ones as indicated by serial number, dated pots and the combination of Silver/Silver/Blue Lace Sensor pickups. I LOVE the color.

These Fender Strat Plus guitars are the ultimate gigging guitars in my opinion. They are extremely well built, Lace pickups sound great and are noiseless, tremolo is stable allowing the guitar to stay in tune.

For the first six months of 1989 production Fender shipped with the Silver/Silver/Blue Lace Sensors before moving to the different Blue/Silver (somtimes Gold)/ and Red Lace Sensors pickup combination. The very first ones in 1989 came with a “split” Wilkinson Roller nut. This one has the newer Wilkinson Roller nut. Later years Fender moved to a LSR roller nut that made string changes easier. ALL the early models, from 1987 through early 1990 came with a plain white pickguard. Later all the Plus Deluxe models had Pearloid pickguards.

The neck has the micro-tilt adjustment. There is an Allen screw under the Fender neck plate that allows for neck tilt avoiding the use of shims. Many of the Strat Plus and Plus Deluxe (but not all) shipped with a Hipshot Tremsetter installed to improve the tuning for the Tremolo especially for when the player does double stop bends. This guitar is equipped with the Hipshot Tremsetter.

Hipshot Tremsetter

Hipshot Tremsetter

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The Strat Plus Series introduced in 1987 started with the Plus, then in July of 1989 the Plus Deluxe,followed in January of 1990 the Ultra arrived with Fender ending production in 1998. All were 22 fret, had locking tuners, roller nut and Lace Sensor pickups. All of them had a “swimming pool” route. Most were Alder wood, a few transparent finished ones were Ash. Some produced in the early 1990s were Poplar due environmentalists concerns. The Alder restrictions eased and Fender back to Alder somewhere in ’93 or ’94. The body contours on the early 1987 ones were a bit different as they were shaped more old Fullerton plant style. Could have been that Fender was using up old stock bodies on these early ones. These guitars tend to be more collectable as they are pretty rare.

The Plus Ultra had an Ebony fretboard instead of Rosewood or Maple with medium jumbo frets. Some Ultras was the Floyd Rose Type II tremolo system and many had fancier laminated tops and finishes. The Ultra have 4 Lace Sensor with a Dually Red Lace Sensor in the bridge position wired with a 3-way mini-switch used to select bridge pickup configuration. Most Ultras came stock with a Blue/Silver/Red Dually Lace Sensors, but some early models had a Gold Lace in the middle position.

Interesting tidbit is up until 1993, the lettering of the Lace Sensors were smooth on the top of the pickup. This allowed the lettering to get rubbed off pretty easy (like this 1989 Plus Deluxe). Around late 1992 to early 1993, the lettering on the pickups was recessed in a oval-shaped area that protected the lettering better like on my 1996 Strat Plus.

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Bit of Fender History:
Leo Fender sold the company to CBS in 1965 for $13 Million. This was almost $2 million more than CBS had paid for The New York Yankees a year before. CBS took over Fender in January 1965. They immediately expanded production and staring moving to solid state amps and making changes to the guitar line. The factory floor space was huge at this point. Many people will argue about the quality and changes CBS made during these years. No doubt CBS had some successes and some challenges. But eventually CBS wanted to divest themselves from producing musical instruments. So they started selling off the companies they had acquired.

CBS sold Fender in 1985 to a small investment group that was initiated by then CBS Musical Instruments division president William Schultz. Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company employee investors purchased the company from CBS and renamed it the “Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.” They only bought the Fender name, patents and stock that was left over. The new management group had NO factory at all. They utilized old stock and there was no production of Fender guitars in the U.S. from February 1985 to October 1985. So about 8 months there was no US Fender guitars. They did use Fender Japan for building guitars to stay afloat. When the new Fender company started up the new factory in Corona California only the Vintage Reissue Stratocaster models were produced between late 1985 through 1986. These were critical times for Fender. Survival was the main point, but Fender also had something to prove. They needed to show they could produce high quality guitars in this new factory and thrive.

Fender introduced the Plus Series in 1987 with the Gold Lace Sensor pickups, invented by Don Lace. The Lace Sensors was a completely new type of design that had a single coil distinct clarity with less noise. These guitars featured the premier “roller-nut” designed by very clever Englishman Trevor Wilkinson. The nut was an innovative design to reduce the friction when using the tremolo. Locking tuners were added for better tuning stability. The first locking tuners were the Sperzel, then later Strat Plus models used Schaller locking tuners.

Interestingly, around this time the Fender Custom Shop was started up doing one-offs and high end custom orders. Fender was out to show they could build real quality and were not afraid to push the boundaries a bit on Leo’s classic designs. The first limited series produced by the Fender Custom Shop run by John Page at the time, was the 40th Anniversary Custom Shop Fender Telecaster. This was limited run of a 300 high-end Telecasters offered in three colors numbered with COA. These guitars are highly collectable.

Types of roller nuts on Fender Plus series - Split Wilkinson nut, newer non-split Wilkinson nut, LSR Roller nut

Roller nuts on Fender Plus series – Split Wilkinson nut, newer non-split Wilkinson nut, LSR Roller nut

The Fender Strat Plus has been considered by some to be one of the ultimate gigging guitars as it can do most anything. It is crammed with many improvements on the standard Stratocaster. I think it was an interesting time for the company to use pickups, add innovative roller nut, locking tuners and improvement to tremolo that all were not made directly by the Fender company. They seemed to just want to make the best Strat that could.

This guitar looks like it did not see much playing as it is in collector grade condition – 100% original complete with untouched solder joints – PRISTINE stunning cosmetic condition with only a hint of patina on the screws – no great wear – as close to being brand NEW as it gets! Even the case is in great condition. Pretty cool for a guitar built in 1989 that is coming up on three decades old. This one must have spent a lot of time in the closet or unplayed in a collection. Almost like finding NOS (New Old Stock).

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These Strat Plus Deluxe were the “Cadillac” models, second only to the Custom Shop. Probably the best built guitars Fender ever had come off the production line. These guitars are starting to become more collectable and newer players have discovered just how nice they are. I have started to see the prices rise on these models. I found this one and jumped on it as it was such a beautiful guitar and in amazing condition. Makes a great companion for my 1996 Fender Strat Plus.

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Wilkinson roller nut

Wilkinson roller nut – Look NO string trees

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Schaller locking tuners

Schaller locking tuners

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Fender used excellent parts and great production quality on the Plus line. All Fender Strat Plus and Plus Deluxe have a “swimming pool” pickup route.

Swimming pool pickup route

Swimming pool pickup route

Two point tremolo bridge, Schaller locking tuners and Wilkinson Roller nut that eliminate the need for string trees give these Stratocasters great tuning stability and sustain. The TBX tone control is what really makes this guitar stand out. It gives you way more sonic options than a standard Strat. TBX is a passive circuit that can cut treble or bass giving the bridge and middle pickup a unique variety of sounds. Putting the 5-way switch in the 4th position and turning the tone control you can get a bell like sound to a honking out-of-phase mid-range sound. Put the switch in position 2 and get a nice quack. The 1st tone control and the volume control is a standard Fender 250k potentiometer.

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Lace Sensors
Lace Sensors pickups were a patented unique design using a radiant field barrier system that surrounds both the coil and magnets, eliminating annoying 60-cycle hum. They are great sounding and basically noiseless with no hum like your average single coil pickup. They also have a wider tonal range and better string balance than traditional pickups. The Lace line of pickups was used exclusively by Fender from 1987 to 1996.

Lace Sensors are true single-coil pickups, but are different from classic single coils. The coil is surrounded by metal barriers which are designed to reduce hum. The barriers also help concentrate the magnetic field, allowing weaker magnets to be used, which results in less string pull. Less string pull, in turn, means truer pitch and intonation, and superior sustain.

Lace Sensor by Color
Gold Lace Sensor were designed to sound like a 50’s single coil – chimey and bell like tones, crisp but quiet with no hum.

Blue Lace Sensor has increased output compared to the Gold Lace and has a warmer P-90 Gibson flavor to it.

Silver Lace Sensor gives a fatter vintage 70s Strat sound with a bit increased output and bit more midrange.

Red Lace Sensor has the hottest output of the Lace Sensors with a fat, punchy more humbucker sound.

Dually Lace Sensor is effectively a double-coil unit combining two Lace Sensor single-coil pickups wired individually in a humbucker configuration. You can choose whether to to use them separate single coils or in parallel or series.

Case is also pristine

Case is also pristine with only a bit of patina on the laches

Case candy

Newer Case candy

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Fender original case

Fender original case