what are those california series fenders like. How do they compare to the real thing
What real thing?
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Fender doesn't have a California series, I think you must be referring to the Levinson Blade brand of guitars who do have a very strat-like (read: copy) series of guitars called the California series.

I don't actually know how well they're made or play but I've heard good things.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

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Better than a lot of American series the Calafornia series strat is as close as you get to a 62 strat if its a good one and thats why fender stopped making them so cheap.