Price paid: $ 999
Purchased from: Guitar Center, Overland Park, KS
Sound — 10
Incredible! I've always though of myself as a Gibson Humbucker player, but the pickups on this guitar just about knocked my socks off with the rich sounds they produced. The Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups are the cleanest pickups I've ever heard, better than any humbucker I've played. And they are far and away the quietest pickup I've ever played. The bonus is the humbucker pickup at the bridge which gives just enough boost for any lead I want to play. The real secret of this guitar is a hidden Switch, S1, engaged by depressing the center of the volume knob. When the S1 Switch is engaged, it converts the electronics of the pickup wiring from series to parallel. This Switch turns the sound of the pickups from the classic single coil sound to a humbucking pickup sound. The selection available through the S1 Switch and 5-way selector Switch allows me a total of 10 settings to set the pickups in.
Overall Impression — 10
At first I was a little leery of the Stratocaster as being too shrill as one friend put it. But after playing it for over 5 years now, I feel very comfortable with it. With the humbucker pickup at the bridge, I can get a very fat full bodied lead out of the guitar and not get a muddy sound if I have to play rhythm with it. The versatility of the instrument with the S1 Switch and five position slider give me almost limitless possibilities on sound variation with the guitar. My major fear has been that from song to song I sound the same. This guitar has helped alleviate that issue with all the variations I can configure it in.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Guitar is only 5 years old, but has become my go to instrument. Almost constantly played at least twice a week between rehearsals and church services on Sunday's, this guitar has held up extremely well. I have to force myself to play my other electric guitars.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action is superb, the roller-ball nut has helped to control the issue with de-tuning the instrument if I use the tremolo arm. The guitar feels very comfortable, the balance is almost perfect and the neck action is flawless allowing me to slide up and down the neck seemingly effortlessly. The rosewood finger board has a nice soft feel compared to the maple finger board also available on this model. I prefer the rosewood fingerboard on all my guitars. The back side of the body where the neck attaches is rolled off to keep the sharp point of the body from digging into your hand when you play high up the neck. This is a real nice feature and was definitely thought of by someone Who's played a Fender Strat before. At first I wasn't impressed with the Montego Black color or Gold pickguard, but they have grown on me. The finish has held up well and the guitar is admired by all Who see it. The Montego Black finish has flecks of gold in the finish that Shine when light hit's them. The pickguard is rather plain and I would have rather seen a more imaginative design done for the pickguard.
Features — 10
Manufactured in Corona, California, 2004. The 50th Anniversary American HSS (or Fat) Stratocaster features a single humbucker pickup at the bridge, two single-coil Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups and S-1 Switching, deluxe 2-point synchronized tremolo bridge with pop-in arm, 3-ply parchment pickguard with commemorative logo and aged plastic parts, abalone Dot inlays, deluxe staggered tuning machines, a special engraved neck plate that celebrates the anniversary. Solid Alder Body Modern "C" Shape Maple Neck with Satin Polyurethane Finish Chrome hardware Deluxe 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo w/ Stainless Steel Saddles and Pop-In Arm Deluxe Staggered Locking Tuners LSR Roller Nut Dot Abalone Inlays Rosewood Fingerboard 22 Medium Jumbo Frets 1 Single-Coil Strat SCN Pickup (Samarium Cobalt Noiseless) 1 Single-Coil Hot SCN Strat Pickup (Samarium Cobalt Noiseless) 1 DH-1 Humbucking Pickup Color: Montego Black Identifying 50th Anniversary logo engraved into neckplate Guitar came with a molded Fender guitar case. Width at nut: 1-21/32" Body width: 12-3/4" Scale Length: 25.5"