'85 Contemporary Stratocaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.7 (22 votes)
Fender: '85 Contemporary Stratocaster

Price paid: $ 274.5

Sound — 10
It sounds great. Two awesome humbuckers. Beautiful clean sound, very Strat-like. Great metal tone. Great punk. Great rock. It does it all! I've got brilliant RATM, Lamb of God and Wolfmother sounds out of it. The RATM sound is perfect. I'm using a Laney HC50R (not made anymore) and the Electro-Harmonics Metal Muff pedal. All second hand. My whole rig is second hand! No buzz, only the expected buzz that you would get off any guitar on Distortion. Quite a bit of tonal variety, I'm pretty simple when it comes to tone really. The neck pickup is a tad muddy but still sounds great on clean. Lovely sounds out of each pickup configuration.

Overall Impression — 9
This is my perfect guitar. I've always wanted a real old Strat, that works for metal. I just love it. 'Love you, Honey' =D. I own a 2004 Telecaster Standard and it's kicked it ass so hard it's changed nationality. I couldn't have asked anything at the shop about this guitar. They knew nothing. But I knew these guitars existed. If it was stolen, I'd hunt down the perpetraitor. If I couldn't get it back, I'd try and find another, but I'd have trouble. These are getting a bit rare. I love the sound, it's a perfect shape, the necks gorgeous and it looks the bomb. Full black. Everything. I wish it had a hot chocolate maker. Uh, more sustain. Please. And before you say 'Get the Fernandes Sustainer Kit', I'm gonna get that for my tele and leave this Strat all original. Cheers for reading my essay on one guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar could resist World War 3. Another 20 years, easy. Live for sure. Kicks ass every week in the 3 hour practise. It's my main guitar. So I sold off 3 of my other guitars because I just didn't use them anymore. So I got my money back, plus a bit more. The finish was already a bit scabby, but I'm not bothered about its appearance. It's how it plays and sounds that counts. Look at Bob Marleys Les Pauls for example. A Legend playing trashpieces. But sounded awesome, and he loved them.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action was terrible when it came out of the Pawn Shop. So the first thing I did was get it refretted and setup by a friend for 60 quid (around 120 bucks). And it's wicked now. I never use the trem, but it works well. The locking nut is placed strangly, you have a regular nut and the locking nut is placed on the head just under where the tuners start. I'm sure it would have been nicely set up out of the Fender factory, I own a Telecaster too and that was nice when I got it so I'll work on that. Most of the metal on the bridge was rusty, I wasn't happy. So I got most of that off but it's still there. Grr. Tuning pegs work really well. The nuts quite badly made, but I don't know if it's been replaced over it's 22 year life. Due to age, the pickups make a noise when you tap them, and you can hear the pickup Switch when you use it. VERY annoying. Replaced tone pot. It's taller than the stock one! Also annoying. But works. Loose jack. Also extremely annoying.

Features — 9
This is a 1985 HH Contemporary Strat, Made in Japan for the classic rockers or hair metal fans. 22 frets (not your average Fender), a little chunkier than a regular Strat neck in a lovely rosewood that's still got life. But I had to have it refretted as it was 22 years old when I bought it. I think the body's made of basswood. I'm not sure about the finish. I reckon it was refinished. The whole things black. All over. Regular Strat body, but with a Les Paul style jack. Kahler/Schaller System One bridge, like a Floyd Rose but more compact. One volume, one tone, 3 way Switch. Two beefy humbuckers, all original. As I got it from a Pawn Shop, I only got a massive plastic to take it home in. Not practical.

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm 14 and I have a 85' contemporary strat and its the best thing ever, I put though a Hot Rod Deluxe and I get awesome clean tones and distortions
    what i hate about living in australia is all we find in second hand shops is squiers, epis and other strat/les paul rips. the best guitar ive ever seen was an epi nikki six thunder bird. for more than a new one!! i read about these various strats made in japan. they seem to be bloody amazing peices of work. probably the best things to come out of fender since the cbs takeover.
    i have the exact same one. its a great guitar and i just started playin this summer and its a really nice guitar. it plays so well.
    i have one of these japanese made beasts, and it is my favorite guitar. Great feel great sound, and sexy looks. And, american made guitars aren't always the best. In the 80's it's known that there were particular years that the japanese made strats were actually crafted just as good and at times better than the US versions. These contemporary strats are a perfect example of that, and for a much more affordable price, how can you beat that? You can't.
    is the metal sound really good? because im getting a strat but i play mostly metal altho i like classic and punk rock too, i just wanna know if high distortion doesn't sound like completely shitty
    guitarNbass wrote: American Made guitars are the best, you can't beat them.
    Is that why the American Fender Co. closed down in the mid 80's and the Japanese dominate the market ever since?!?...oh yeah American Made are so great! *sarcasm* If you had a contemporary Strat you'd take back that statement!
    Here's a video to prove it, educate yourself before claiming anything as ludicrous as you said.