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Surprised by a Fender Deluxe Plus
Old 28th March 2016
  #1
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brianellefson's Avatar
Surprised by a Fender Deluxe Plus

Recently went to try some Teles. While I was looking at them I accidentally found an American Strat Deluxe Plus with that weird "personality card" setup.

I immediately dismissed it. First on color - I've only ever liked stains on Strats and Teles - not paint. Secondly, it seemed gimmicky having cards you pop into the back of the guitar.

But I decided to plug it in anyway. What the heck.

And I actually really liked it. Instantly found the value of having the ability to quickly change the wiring configuration of a guitar. And they make a big difference. I took a close look at the cards - basically they have the same exact things on them that you'd wire into the electronics cavities to mod the guitar (different capacitor values, etc).

But from the looks of it, Fender is giving up on these. I'm not the biggest of purists by any means and even I had trouble with it at first glance. After giving it a chance though I really liked it. Cool idea and pretty well executed. Even without the electronics mods the guitars are pretty nice - locking tuners, N3 noiseless pickups.

Anyway, I haven't seen anyone around here mention these so thought I'd bring em up.

And I'm already gonna be turned away from guitar heaven - bought a Kemper and I've been selling all my amps including my vintage 65 Twin. Definitely not making it in with a Deluxe Plus added to my heathen setup.
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Surprised by a Fender Deluxe Plus-image_9321_0.jpg   Surprised by a Fender Deluxe Plus-image_4908_0.jpg  
Old 29th March 2016
  #2
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RicTone's Avatar
 

Congrats on the Kemper! There's a few Kemper owners here. The first thing I did when I bought my Kemper was to profile my Supersonic 60 combo. I put an OCD in front on one profile for just light crunch and I was blown away the Kemper captured the intricate subtlety of the OCD into my Supersonic that I'd played for so long.

Getting to the guitar; I thought it was a cool idea when Fender came out with those cards. I wonder if cards are available outside of cards from Fender?
Old 29th March 2016
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
Congrats on the Kemper! There's a few Kemper owners here. The first thing I did when I bought my Kemper was to profile my Supersonic 60 combo. I put an OCD in front on one profile for just light crunch and I was blown away the Kemper captured the intricate subtlety of the OCD into my Supersonic that I'd played for so long.

Getting to the guitar; I thought it was a cool idea when Fender came out with those cards. I wonder if cards are available outside of cards from Fender?
Probably not as they were discontinued pretty quick, but you could probably find every one of them on eBay cheap these days. Get an extra, hack it.
Old 29th March 2016
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
Probably not as they were discontinued pretty quick, but you could probably find every one of them on eBay cheap these days. Get an extra, hack it.
Are these guitars used selling significantly less than a Deluxe from the same year? I play and prefer the Deluxe series and so I wouldn't mind the card as long as it had the typical Deluxe features at a lower price.
Old 29th March 2016
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
Are these guitars used selling significantly less than a Deluxe from the same year? I play and prefer the Deluxe series and so I wouldn't mind the card as long as it had the typical Deluxe features at a lower price.
They're probably selling for less, yeah. I bought mine new for $1,090.

One of the cards is for standard wiring. Another one turns the tone knobs to bass roll off and treble roll off. The third one allows you to combine the neck and bridge pickups. And then there are three more available.

From what I can tell, everything goes to and from the card slot. So the card is just sort of a junction to make changes. There's no battery or active electronics.

I'll take a pic of the back of one of the cards and post it.

It's not that I'm a super fan of these, I just liked the idea and I don't mind owning a Fender that's not traditional (while probably a couple years ago I wouldn't have owned one). They look and play just like any other strat.
Old 29th March 2016
  #6
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Here's a pic of the back of the standard card.
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Old 29th March 2016
  #7
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I always wondered how these sounded, and what the end game was for these. Release a few every year? Have a few with DIP switches to make your own sounds? For other companies to make their own? How much can you change on a passive system?
Old 29th March 2016
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson View Post
Here's a pic of the back of the standard card.
Cool, thanks for posting a picture!
Old 29th March 2016
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoobiedood View Post
I always wondered how these sounded, and what the end game was for these. Release a few every year? Have a few with DIP switches to make your own sounds? For other companies to make their own? How much can you change on a passive system?
Good points. One of mine has dip switches so you can pick which pickups to group together. They make a phase card too, that you can use to throw the pickups out of phase from one another (Brian May sound maybe). Overall it just sounds like a strat. No difference in looks or sounds. Just options to change things on the fly.
Old 29th March 2016
  #10
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TurboJets's Avatar
Great post Brian and congrat's on your find. I would think the personality card would be an outstanding feature. I'm jealous, man.
Old 30th March 2016
  #11
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I guess you can just get to that point where you can have too many options, right? I do get annoyed when some self-righteous dude takes a look at my gear and drops the ol', "You don't need all that". "I rule plugging straight into my amp, 1 pickup and only the E & A strings .... maybe a wah .. but that's it!".

But then I think, there IS a limit for me. Too far takes me away from the art of using what I have and making it good and into the depths of, "Let me just check out one more option! I must change the dial ... download another amp pack ... switch my wiring card ... it might sound 'better'!" ad-infinitum. My personal limit would probably be a guitar with replaceable wiring cards! :-) Cool .. but possibly too much of a distraction to be worth the bother.

Last edited by Joe_K; 30th March 2016 at 02:15 AM..
Old 30th March 2016
  #12
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I had a modeling guitar for a while, until it started going off the map with a mind of it's own at gigs. 3rd time it happened I went back to a Tele and gave the modeling guitar away. It's pretty hard to beat a simple set up when it comes to gigging. The more complicated the rig the more opportunities there are for malfunction or failure. The card feature of the deluxe seems like a cool idea but I don't think I'd have the confidence it it to trust it to work right every time I needed it to.
Old 30th March 2016
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_K View Post
My personal limit would probably be a guitar with replaceable wiring cards! :-) Cool .. but possibly too much of a distraction to be worth the bother.
Hi Joe, if I were to own one my assumption would be that I'd find specific tones I like and pretty much stick with those. But what if I liked only one tone and six different cards? That would be problematic

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
I had a modeling guitar for a while, until it started going off the map with a mind of it's own at gigs.
mbvoxx, are you referring to the Roland G-5 VG Fender modeling Strat?
Old 30th March 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
Hi Joe, if I were to own one my assumption would be that I'd find specific tones I like and pretty much stick with those. But what if I liked only one tone and six different cards? That would be problematic
I'm not down on it as a concept. It is actually a really great idea for floor models of custom guitars where you can try them all out and choose a hard-wired scheme for your guitar when you order it. Every guitar shop should have one with all the cards on hand.
Old 30th March 2016
  #15
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brianellefson's Avatar
I should note...

I've been on a simplicity pilgrimage. I've sold all of my electrics except an American strat. Until this one came along. I've also gotten rid of all but two acoustics ... a Martin OM28 and an old Takamine dreadnaught. Sold all of my amps except for a '65 Twin (which is for sale) and I'll be selling my console soon.

So the idea has very much been to simplify for the sake of lessening choices and distractions when I'm creating. Less knobs. Less outboard gear.

My setup for electric guitar is now this new Fender going into a Kemper. So all things considered, having some configuration options on the guitar felt right.
Old 30th March 2016
  #16
I'm pretty sure that the cards are just different circuits (probably pcb's) to change the routing, nothing digital. It's a smart idea really, after all a guitar is just a few pickups, some pots, a selection switch and an output. No reason you can't wire that all into a strip connector then build whatever kind of circuit you want to connect it all up on the other side. In most guitars the circuitry is just jammed in there with (beyond shielding) little concern for interaction, so I'm guessing layout and component proximity is less important than in pedals and amps.

Congrats on the setup and guitar. Any guitar that feels, sounds and plays good is good.
Old 30th March 2016
  #17
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I think it is a good idea too. There can be a million reasons why it failed, with #1 probably being that a pretty conservative Strat fanbase don't want their guitars messed with. But I wonder how many cards there actually were? I'd guess they all would be hard to find now, as not a lot were sold.

I think Acme Guitar Works had a drop-in passive system for strats with DIP switches which did a lot of things- it really seems like a good idea, if there was a way to get to it quickly.
Old 30th March 2016
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdme_sadie View Post
I'm pretty sure that the cards are just different circuits (probably pcb's) to change the routing, nothing digital. It's a smart idea really, after all a guitar is just a few pickups, some pots, a selection switch and an output. No reason you can't wire that all into a strip connector then build whatever kind of circuit you want to connect it all up on the other side. In most guitars the circuitry is just jammed in there with (beyond shielding) little concern for interaction, so I'm guessing layout and component proximity is less important than in pedals and amps.

Congrats on the setup and guitar. Any guitar that feels, sounds and plays good is good.
You are spot on! Correct. All they do is allow changing up the pickup, tone and volume configurations.

To my knowledge there are 6 cards. The guitar I bought came with three.
Old 14th August 2019
  #19
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I've got a few of these guitars. They are really fun. There's a lot of info about them on Stratocaster Design website. Fender only really made one run of these and sold them for 3 years (more like 2) 2014-2016 but the cards were almost all made in 2013 with one that has a 2014 copyright. The SSS had 7 cards and the HSS has 6 different models available.

What I'm trying to find is where to buy the little pickup connectors....
Old 14th August 2019
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson View Post
Here's a pic of the back of the standard card.
That's a complex connector feeding a single mono ceramic surface mount tone capacitor, a real POS for guitar useage. Seems like this is a formula for future connector noises and issues.
Old 14th August 2019
  #21
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enorbet2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson View Post
And I'm already gonna be turned away from guitar heaven - bought a Kemper and I've been selling all my amps including my vintage 65 Twin. Definitely not making it in with a Deluxe Plus added to my heathen setup.
Yes... it's true... you shall burn for eternity....

... or you would have had I not felt pity on your poor soul and pleaded your case. I waved a rubber chicken over your avatar and chanted some mumbo jumbo and now Satan has agreed to limit your suffering to playing nothing but Justin Bieber tunes on a warped neck with notched frets and dead strings for a mere billion years. You're welcome
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson View Post
I should note...

I've been on a simplicity pilgrimage. I've sold all of my electrics except an American strat. Until this one came along. I've also gotten rid of all but two acoustics ... a Martin OM28 and an old Takamine dreadnaught. Sold all of my amps except for a '65 Twin (which is for sale) and I'll be selling my console soon.

So the idea has very much been to simplify for the sake of lessening choices and distractions when I'm creating. Less knobs. Less outboard gear.

My setup for electric guitar is now this new Fender going into a Kemper. So all things considered, having some configuration options on the guitar felt right.
You'll regret it in a couple years....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
That's a complex connector feeding a single mono ceramic surface mount tone capacitor, a real POS for guitar useage. Seems like this is a formula for future connector noises and issues.
Yep. That's always been the problem with bright ideas like that one. You really don't want that type of plug-in connector on something that gets beat on on a regular basis....
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