Price paid: £ 1179
Purchased from: Rattle and Drum Music
Sound — 8
I play a lot of styles from blues and classic Rock to Metal and thrash metal. I originally got this to cover the softer side of my music, but this guitar can do them all. Thanks mainly to the S-1 switching, you can get great heavy sounds in an instant that can easily stand up to a humbucker equipped guitar, but it can also get those classic Strat cleans that really make this guitar stand out from the rest. I am currently playing this through a Blackstar HT-20 for home practice and the combination sounds great. Thanks to the pickups, I can dial in the highest gain sounds on my amp, and I get no hum at all (well not enough to care about). This guitar also screams. It is so easy to get harmonics it's unreal.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a lot of styles, from blues to thrash, and although I originally thought it would be used mainly for the softer styles, it really can handle just about anything. I have been playing for 4 years and this is by far the best guitar I have played. If this was stolen/lost I would actually grieve, and replace it with exactly the same model. I literally looked at almost every guitar on the market before deciding on this. I needed something versatile and this guitar delivers perfectly. The guitar literally comes with everything, even strap locks which are a great touch. The only complaint is that the strap locks didn't come with instructions on how to install, and I have never even seen any in person before, but I was able to figure it out.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've only had this guitar for a couple of weeks, but it really feels like it will last a lifetime or two. Everything is just solid. Nothing is loose, or needed tightening, and the finish looks expertly applied and will last for a long time, and probably age beautifully. I would never use it live without a backup, but the only thing I can see happening to make me switch would be a string breakage, which is obviously just bad luck.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The factory set up on this guitar was flawless. The action was perfect, the tremolo was great and the guitar in general just felt expertly set up. I've not even had to adjust it yet.
Features — 10
This guitar was made in 2011 in the USA. It has a classic Fender 25.5 inch scale and 22 frets on a maple fingerboard. The body is made of alder and the neck is maple. My guitar has the Olympic Pearl finish. The neck shape is a Modern C and is really comfortable. This combined with the compound radius makes the guitar really easy to play, whether you're playing lead or rhythm. The guitar comes with a 2 point tremelo with locking tuners. This combination can stand up to anything and just does not go out of tune. It can even handle dive bombs as well as most floyd equipped guitars I've played (not that I use dive bombs often). It is equipped with Fender's N3 noiseless pickups that really are noiseless. They give no hum what'soever, even on really high gain sounds. It has a classic Fender control configuration with a 5 way pickup selector and 1 volume and 2 tone controls. It also has the S-1 system which is great, as you can use it to get strong humbucker-ish sounds, but also classic Strat sounds with just the single coils. The guitar also came with a great SKB modeled hard case, strap locks, a cable and even a leather strap.