Price paid: $ 805.2
Purchased from: Rockers
Sound — 9
I mainly play blues, modern rock/indie, and jazz through a Peavey Bandit Transtube 112 (an equally versatile amp) with various effects (delay, compression, Big Muff, wah). This is a very versatile guitar, the strength of the Stratocaster. The neck pickup is mellow and warm, perfect for those slow Gilmour-esque blues leads. The 2nd and 4th positions are funky and tight, with the middle setting producing a nice rhythm sound. The bridge pickup is brighter, with more treble, less bass and suits crunchy distortion very well. These are Vintage style pickups so they are not high output, not that this guitar can't be loud. This is definately not a metal player's ideal choice, it is more suitable for blues, country, jazz and rock (it is after all a 1957 design). The tone is most impressive clean, or with just a hint of distortion. You can get spot on Hendrix, Gilmour, Knopfler and many other famous player's sounds depending on your amplifier.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall this a top quality instrument, far superior to the Mexican equivalent and easily on par with the American models. The finish is flawless on my example, the neck is very comfortable and, although laquered, it is never sticky just silky smooth. I haven't had any problems with this guitar, it will last me indefinately. I would definately replace it with an identical model were it lost or stolen. Incidently I was originally after a Telecaster or a Jazzmaster, but this is far more versatile and outplayed them. Yes, they're everywhere but until I owned my own Stratocaster I didn't realise how personal they become. I'm not planning on altering or modding this in any way, I wanted the pure '50s Vintage approach, which in my opinion is the peak of Stratocaster design.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have gigged with this without back-up and it was fine. I haven't broken a string and it stays in tune very well for a Vintage style guitar. I've fitted strap-locks for added security (even though I don't hurl it around or anything) but the standard strap buttons were very solid. The hardware is fine, no problems, the fit of the knobs, pickguard and switching is good and the Switch is smooth with no noise between shifts. The pickups are quite noisy but this is the case with all single coil instruments, hence the invention of humbuckers and Lace sensors. As long as you roll off the volume when you need to then it's not a problem.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar came set up well, although the tremolo was flush with the body. I personally wanted to have a two way trem so I raised it, and reset the guitar, but it plays very well indeed and the 7 1/2 radius neck is very comfortable. The pickups were set far too low. I'm not sure on the ideal height but having checked Fender's recommendations they are now much higher and the tone and volume has improved considerably. The tremolo action is incredibly smooth, using 3 springs. The fit and finish is extremely high quality. People often mistake Japanese Fenders as the middle ground between Mexican and American models, but this is not the case. This uses the same hardware and pickups as US Strat and has equal if not better finish quality. Fender ceased officially selling Japanese models in Europe due to their being too competitive in terms of quality with the US models. You really are getting the same quality for half the price because the USA are having to increase their labour effort to produce the same quality as the more efficient Japanese manufacture, and this cost is then passed on to you. Everything else is fine and will last longer than I will. The finish is tough enough, but look after it and there will be minimal scratches, mine are barely visible hairlines on the back from play, only visible under light.
Features — 9
2005 Fender Japan 1957 Reissue Stratocaster. 21 Vintage frets, 1 piece D-shape maple neck with a 7 1/2" radius. 3 piece alder body finished in tobbaco burst (2-tone sunburst). 1 ply white 8-screw pickguard. Fender Vintage 6 point non-locking tremelo. 3 single coil US Fender Vintage pickups. 1 volume control, 2 tone. 5-way Switch. Kulson tuners, 1 string tree. Purchased from Rockers, London in August 2005. Currently fitted with Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky strings, originally a set of Fender 9's. No official accessories, but I got a fitted flight case thrown in for another 40. A small ding on the body (hardly visible) reduced the retail price by 10 from 450.