The Fender American Elite Stratocaster has really upped the game, in terms of tone, playability, feel, and looks.
I have tried very hard to like Stratocasters. Many of the artists that I listen to utilize these types of guitars and make them sound very, very good. However, whenever I pick one up I feel like I'm starting over in terms of playing guitar. Whenever I play a strat, I find myself always bumping the volume knob, turning myself down. The Strat tremolo also was an issue for me. I found that the tremolo was not usable and would put the guitar out of tune way too much. I spent some time looking for hardtail strats, but quickly gave up that hunt as well. I also found that I could not get the overdrive tones out of a strat that I would have liked. However, with the release of the Elite series of Strats, I resumed my attempt to like strats. The American Elite Stratocaster features Fenders newly designed N4 Noiseless pickups, which addresses the issue of early compression in the previous rendition of the pickup. The N4 noiseless pickups are virtually silent single coil, while retaining vintage tone. The guitar sounds great in all five positions, producing nice quacky tones, to big, round strat tones that we all know and love. Coupled with Fender's S1 switch, you have even more tones at your finger tips if the traditional 5 strat positions just aren't right for what you're doing.
Fender also redesigned the neck for this guitar, having a compound radius on the fingerboard and the shape of the back of the neck gradually shifts from a modern c shape to a D shape up in the upper frets. This makes for a guitar that is almost too easy to play. Fender also has added all short post locking tuners to the headstock, which provides for stabile tuning and a better break angle over the nut that makes for more sustain.
The locking tuners also couple nicely with the 2 point tremolo system found on the Elite guitars. This allows the tremolo to be more usable with very little detuning when returning back to normal tuning. The insert-only tremolo arm is useful and a smarter move by fender as it stays in place where you leave, with no need for the small springs on the american standard guitars and no fear of cross threading or stripping your tremolo or tremolo arm.
Another beautiful feature of this guitar is the Music Man Styles truss rod adjustment at the bottom of the neck. This make adjustments effortless on the fly. You don't even have to remove your strings.
My elite stratocaster is Mystic black, which is a black gloss finish with metallic flake within the finish. The guitar is stunning from afar, but up close and personal, the finish catches your eye with shimmering flake. The neck is maple with a maple fretboard. The back and fingerboard of the neck are satin for playability and the headstock is gloss, with a reflective silver fender logo on the headstock.