Price paid: $ 1200
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
I play this guy through an Ibanez Tone-Blaster half stack. I also frequently use a Vox wah, MXR phaser, and Big Muff Russia. First of all, this guitar is tonally extremely versatile due to the great SCN pickups (which I prefer to any other Fender stock pickup and Lace Sensors) and the tone-changing S-1 Switch. The tone and volume knobs are very responsive, and greatly affect your tone, unlike some guitars I've tried. Although this isn't really a high gain guitar, the pickups give you little to no hum or buzz no matter how high you crank the gain, hence Samarium Cobalt noiseless. I play psychedelic, electric blues, classic rock, funk, jam band, and hard rock, but I dabble in many other genres. The Fender Deluxe fits all of them quite nicely. You can get those full, crisp, Vintage shimmering Strat tones with this guitar as soon as you play it. I look at the S-1 Switch as almost a "boost" Switch. It makes your tone noticeably fuller and warmer, which is great to have in any type of music. It adds many tonal options on this guitar. It could be used it as a solo boost I suppose. If you're looking for an artist of one of the above mentioned genre's specific tone, this guitar might be worth a look for you. With a bit of tweaking, I can easily get Hendrix tones, Clapton's "woman" tone, Frank Zappa's tone, Jimmy Page's tones, SRV's tone, and many others. If you're looking for Slash's or Angus Young's tone, I probably wouldn't settle for this guitar, as it takes a lot of messing around to get their tones. On a clean channel, this guitar is flawless. It can play some amazing clean blues and rock tones (BB King, Clapton's later days, the Doors, Phish, etc). This guitar responds to all of my effects nicely, especially my wah. You can play anything on this guitar, from sweet blues tunes, to fiery psychedelic, to funky-ass jam sessions.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing for a few years now, and I consider myself intermediate to advanced level as a player. Like I said before, I play psychedelic, electric blues, classic rock, funk, jam band, and hard rock, but I dabble in many other genres. The Fender American Deluxe fits em all. I own a Washburn Idol that I never play, and a homemade Strat. And this Strat obviously beats em hands down. This guitar is unbelievably fun to just pick up and play. My favorite feature is definitely those sweet SCN pickups. They give you so much lovely tone! If this guitar was stolen, I would be very upset, and I definitely start saving up to buy another one. The American Deluxe is very easy on the eyes and ears. Be sure to check this one out, guys.
Reliability & Durability — 9
With this guitar, I've only played one Live show so far. and it performed perfectly. Everything on it seems like it's gonna last longer than I am. The strap buttons, while not perfect, get the job done pretty well. If you adjust your strap to be long, the top of your strap does tend to come off of it's button when you play this sitting down, but that's not too much of a problem, unless you forget about it! I never usually gig with a backup guitar, and this guitar only supports that decision. It's got that Fender rock-solid build to it. And the case it comes with seems incredibly sturdy. The guitar seems to be pretty generously coated with it's beautiful finish, so unless you really smash this thing, I think this'll last you a long, long, time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
When I got this guitar, the pickups were set up very nicely. However, the bridge was a bit too high for me, so I added 2 more springs to the 3 it had in the back. I changed out the Fender Bullet. 10 gauge strings for Ernie Ball.11 Slinkys. I had to adjust the action to where I prefer it. As far as I could see, there were no flaws in the guitar's finish. The treble tone knob sticks when it's at 10, but in a way that makes me wonder if it's supposed to do so. The pickup selector does make a "click" when it's switched that's pretty noticeable when playing alone, but it's impossible to hear when backed by a band. This guitar has a snap-in whammy bar whole, but it came with a screw-in Standard whammy, which doesn't fit. I was a bit disappointed in this. But the biggest problem was that there were a few pieces of loose solder jangling around in the guitar's wiring and pickups cavities, so I had to unscrew a corner of the pickguard to shake them out. And of course, the plastic coating on the pickguard is always a pain in the ass to get off!
Features — 10
This is a Fender American Deluxe Strat. Made (in Corona, CA) of a nice piece of Ash, which gives this thing a nice weight. 22 medium sized frets on a rosewood fretboard. Abalone Dot fret markers (nice cosmetic touch). Aged plastic components. Mine has a 3-tone sunburst finish (brown to red to black). Synchronized tremolo bridge. 5-way pick selector. 3 single passive Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Pickups (ho, baby), new S-1 Switch in volume pot, fender/schaller locking tuners. comes with a very nice, very sturdy, hard shell case.