Price paid: $ 1555.5
Purchased from: Macari's, London
Sound — 9
Plays just about anything well. Really comfortable neck, great for big bends. Also, very responsive volume and tone controls, crank the amp and roll off some volume and the sound is fabulous. Violining is a dream (if that's the bag you're into). I'm using it through a Mesa/Boogie Nomad 55, currently with no effects, although I have used a cry-baby and a chorus in the past. This guitar is quiet (apart from the switching pops mentioned above). I am in love with the SCN pickups. If you have a good valve amp this guitar will just knock you out, as everything you do on the guitar, every nuance, comes through perfectly. Very expressive. If you activate the S1 Switch you could probably funk yourself blind in no time at all.
Overall Impression — 9
I play rock/country rock, and I bought an American Strat, nuff said? As mentioned above, I have been playing 30 years + and I consider this to be one of the best guitars that I've owned. I hardly ever use the S1 Switch as the Strat sounds are just perfect, a real Vintage feel and tone. Get one, you'll play better! Strats have always been value for money, I like Les Pauls, but my god do they cost, and they don't play any better than this. I use this guitar in conjunction with my '56 Goldtop reissue, and that's pretty much all I need, apart from the Gretsch Duo Jet, the '59 Standard, the SG Custom 3 pickup.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Built like a rock, it's a Strat for god's sake! Metal parts are chrome, had to file the rough edges off the pickup selector, but I won't hold it against them. Finish is very well applied, although it will get dinks and wear over time, I don't care. I use other guitars live, so it would never be out without a chaperone.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Came out of the box pretty well set up, although I had Macari's fit 10's before shipping it to me. I like to tinker, so a few minor adjustments made to action, trem unit etc: but basically playable out of the box. I've heard some bad reports regarding the finish on some of these guitars, but mine is fine (although getting the plastic cover off the pick guard always drives me nuts).
Features — 8
60th Anniversary badge (tiny) on back of headstock, serial number says it was made in 2005. Out of Corona California. 22 well finished, medium jumbo frets, rosewood fingerboard, abalone position markers, nice touch. Nicely figured chunk of Ash, good weight. I don't like light guitars. Played Les Pauls for years before this, hence the stoop. Well finished in aged cherry burst, thought it might look a little girly, but it works well, (just need a '59 LP Standard to match). Nice bridge, well balanced, top-end trem. unit. I changed the saddles for Graph Tech Ferraglide equivalents, but have just changed back, and have to report that sustain is better, tone brighter, and she's still a rock for tuning stability. Samarium Cobalt pickups. What can I say? Brilliant tone in every position, and nice to be able to roll off some treble on the bridge pickup (although, I must say that this pickup digs in really nicely with no load, and doesn't grate as much as some I've played). Started soloing on middle setting as well, and the neck pickup is just beautiful, as I said, great in every position. I'm not wild about the S1 alternative tones, (vol. control switch depressed), as they sound pretty compressed to my ears (although they have their uses, and will appeal to a lot of people). My major criticism of this guitar relates to the electrics, it tends to pop and crackle when switching between the 2 S1 options. I have considered having mine checked out by a qualified techie. Locking Sperzel machine heads are excellent, and tuners are smooth and true. Well cut nut, although why they factory string this guitar with 9's is beyond me! 10's or above please, 9's just sound weedy. I was expecting mine to turn up in a bog-standard Fender molded case, but it arrived in a nice retro job, which was nice! So, all in all, very well made, very playable guitar, and, although we tend to pay over the odds for American Strats in the UK, I don't feel in any way cheated, just sort out the electronics Fender (and I know I'm not the first to say this). Been playing pro and semi-pro for 30 years, all kinds of styles, and I would recommend this guitar (or rather my copy), to anyone.