Price paid: $ 1699
Purchased from: Musicians Friend
Features: This Stratocaster is actually a great combination of new and old. The Fender factory takes a 1962 Stratocaster and puts on sought after features. This is why I think this is a great guitar. If you are into the whole Vintage look, feel, and tone, but want it to have some modern appointments so you can actually play it you will not be disappointed.
Specs of this guitar are:
- Thin-skin nitrocellulose finish
- Comfort-contoured alder body
- Maple neck
- Vintage C-shape profile with satin finish on back
- Rosewood fingerboard
- 9.5" fingerboard radius
- 21 medium-jumbo frets
- 25.5" scale length
- Nut width: 1.650"
- Chrome hardware
- Fender/Gotoh vintage-style tuners
- American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo
- 3-ply mint green Pickguard
- 3 American Vintage Strat single-coil pickups with reverse-wound/reverse-phase middle pickup
- 5-position blade pickup Switch
- Master volume control
- Tone 1 (neck pickup)
- Tone 2 (bridge pickup)
- Setup with Fender Super 250R Nickel Plated Steel strings (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046)
- Includes Deluxe Brown Hardshell Case, Strap, Cable, and Meguair's care kit
Things to point out that are some of, as Fender calls them, Custom shop appointments include, a thin Nitrocellulose finish, tone knob that controls the treble pickup, 9.5" fingerboard radius. // 9
Sound: Let me start off by saying this is not your normal Strat. I once owned the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster which weighed in at 7.7lbs, which in the technical sense for a Strat is bananas. This guitar is on par or even slightly heavier. It is not a bad heavy. It is beefy, for adults only type of sound you get out of this thing. With the weight of this guitar it is nearly a hybrid of a Les Paul and Strat, and I am not talking about a Les Paul Swiss-Cheese or chambered guitar, I am talking about a 1959, neck the size of a baseball bat, weighing in at 13lbs+ type of Les Paul. The weight of this guitar propels this Strat into new tonal territories. Also owning a Standard American Strat and then going and picking up this thing, it is almost a shock. I am shocked by how much it weighs, how much more solid it feels, and how full the sound is. I have found in my playing experience that weight adds fullness of sound. This does not disappoint. The one I have been playing for quite some time is set up with .11-.48's which adds to the girthiness of this behemoth. I hope you understand I am making the point that this is not a kid's guitar. This thing is honestly quite beefy, much harder to play than a Standard Strat but the reward is pretty great. Playing through a 1993 RI 65' Deluxe Reverb you are able to get an immensely crisp, but full and clean sound. Through Standard Strats I usually find that the Ultra clean sound can come across somewhat metallic. Due the fact that this has the extra weight it is able to fill up all the spaces of tone that a Standard American cannot.
You can easily take this Strat to a more rocking level with the use of some stomp boxes. It is a lot easier to get the SRV tone when you have the right gear. I found that this HOT Rod 62' with the Deluxe Reverb and an Ibanez TS 808 used as a boost can easily achieve the sought after SRV tone. I actually feel that this guitar pulls it off better then the Stevie Ray Vaughan Strat. Reason being is that I believe the Texas Special pickups as equipped on the SRV Strat are not suited well for the guitar and too one dimensional to cover Stevie's tone. The 62' Strat can cover a lot more than just Stevie though. It really depends what amp you have it plugged in to. I found after testing with Orange, Vox, Marshall Handwired Plexi's, Dr. Z, Matchless and several others that the best fit for this guitar is some sort of Fender Blackface or early Silver Face amp. The guitars truest colors seem to show when played through a Fender Amp. You can easily create a multitude of sounds by use of several Fuzz pedals (not necessarily simultaneously), Delay, and Wah's. This guitar is in the top 10 guitars I have ever played in terms of responding to effects. It definitely catches you off guard that a guitar "from" 1962 can be this diverse in its tonal characteristics. Finally the fact that this guitar has the appointment of a tone knob connected to the treble pickup is a huge plus. If you have played any Strats that do not have this option you know how spicy and hard to control the Bridge pickup can be. Overall it is a really good guitar with a great out of the box tone. Amazing resonating characteristics all helped to earn the sound an 8. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: From the factory this guitar was set up immaculately well. This is usually on backorder for a while so you may have to order it online to get the color combination you want. This guitar is offered in Olympic White, 3-Tone Sunburst, and Green. All come with the Mint Green Pickguard which give it a semi-aged look without getting into the relicing aspect. This guitar has a Rosewood neck and a very nice satin finish on the back of the neck. Those two factors really helped the playability of this guitar. From the factory it was set up perfectly, my general feeling is that Fender does a very good job with all guitars built in America. Some of you have probably had a different experience so flame on in the comments but this is my personal experience of all of the Fender American guitars and basses I have played.
This guitar looked extremely good out of the box. I could not be happier that this has a Nitro finish, and a thin Nitro finish to boot (that was for you Canadian readers). A nice thing to know is that since this has a Thin Nitro finish you will be able to age this guitar yourself over a long period of time. This guitar is simple in looks but that is what makes it look good. Everything about it was good, for $1700, it better be. // 8
Reliability & Durability: On a reliability scale this has performed like any Strat I have owned. Pretty Standard things happen, the input jack will come loose (guaranteed if you actually play your Strat), and a truss rod adjustment after two years, but that is honestly it. I have a friend who owned one whose electronics were "pinched" inside which created a poor connection on the pickup selector Switch but he merely needed to take the screws off the Pickguard and play around with the connections and it was A-OK, no soldering required. Overall this thing is really built like a tank and I feel that this has more eyes and hands overlooking it throughout the build process. // 7
Overall Impression: At the end of the day I am a huge Gibson fanboy and big Les Paul aficionado and when I want to pickup and play it will be a Gibby into a Marshall. This guitar really has impressed me though. It has a really "fat" tone to it and can hold its own upon some more powerful humbucking guitars simply due to the weight and the thickness of the neck. With the right amp and a good pedal you can really dial this guitar in to achieve a great blues or blues/rock tone. Feel free to flame on that this guitar is one dimensional because it doesn't cover Slayer or heavy rock stuff well. Ya, no kidding it's a Strat at the end of the day. This is not meant for that type of music. If you want to play in a heavier type of genre this guitar is not for you; do not buy it, it will fail in every way. But, if you have big hands, want to fight the guitar you own to get the perfect note and sound out of it, and are willing to have a sore shoulder after playing a guitar for two hours then by all means get this. Going back I would have still purchased my Standard American Strat in comparison to this simply due to the fact that has a wider range of applications for the music that I play then this guitar. Secondly, I pick up the Strat when I need a break from carrying a 9lb Les Paul. It is a relief guitar for me. Whatever your thoughts are though, if you are a Strat fan I would highly recommend you to try and get your hands on one of these to play and feel the difference. Playing something from the 60's really makes you appreciate what the musicians of that day and age did and accomplished with the gear they had.
Enjoy the tone and happy picking'. // 8
- Jesse Kleinow (thejester) (c) 2012