Price paid: $ 1500
Purchased from: GC
Features — 10
2015 Limited Edition US Standard Strat with solid rosewood neck and Fender Custom Shop Fat '50s Pickups. 3 tone burst with vintage white plastic parts, offset tuners, no-load tone pot for bridge and middle pickups. Everything else is a standard fair US Strat. Available in Daphne Blue also. I did see one red model on the GC website also. As all US Strats are loaded with the Fat '50s, I can't give extra kudos for that. However, I will say that these pups are my pick for vintage tone where Fender pickups are concerned.
The real hidden treasure is the solid rosewood neck. This is by far the nicest and smoothest playing neck I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Almost everyone that I've let play it has said it plays like silk. Even if you can't afford one, do yourself a favor and at least play one the next time you stop in Guitar Center.
Sound — 9
Totally love the Fat '50s pickups. Standard switch positions apply. The only pups I like better are custom wound from a custom builder. I get a little white noise but I've had Strats that were much worse. The pickguard is shielded so it will limit the amount of noise. I have used it with a cheapo practice amp, a Fender Frontman 212 and a Bugera V22. It does sound the best through a tube amp but it makes all my amps sound better. If you really want to help out any Strat, install a MXR DynaComp in your effects chain. I also run mine through a Bylang XD08, TC Spark, an analog delay and an analog chorus (when I play through tube amps). For anything other than tube amps I go with a Line 6 POS XT Live which allows me a lot of latitude where tone and effects are concerned.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Everything was perfectly manufactured on mine. The paint is flawless. Everything fit together perfectly. The setup needed a bit of tweeking but it was close. After I set it up (per Fender recommendations) it plays well. I did some fiddling with the pickup height until I found a spot where the pickups really came alive. Each pup will have a different height where they really shimmer. It has been a process that has taken a few months but I think I have finally found that magic height for mine.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As I've only owned mine for a few months, the reliability has been excellent. I was somewhat hesitant about the rosewood neck. However, my fear were calmed after discussing rosewood necks with a custom builder. They are superior to maple by far. As the hardware has been tested on several different Strat models, I am fairly confident that it will stand the test of time. One thing I didn't like was the bridge saddles. There was no valley for the string to set in which allowed my strings to slide from side to side during string bends. Some might like this but I did not. So, I changed them to a different type of saddle which is working quite well for me. I believe I can depend on this axe to be my one and only. However, I never gig without a backup - EVER.
Overall Impression — 10
This has quickly become my favorite axe. I just can't say enough about the solid rosewood neck. It is fabulous, smooth, beautiful, etc., etc., etc. I installed a mini-switch that allows me to turn on the bridge pup at any time. This allows me to get two more tones from mine. Also, I changed out the pickguard for a white pearl and installed rosewood knobs and switch tip. As more pickers are introduced to this model, I think it has the possibility of becoming a collectors' item. I have customized mine but I made sure to keep all the original parts, just in case it does become a collector.