Price paid: A$ 1819
Purchased from: Haworth Guitars
Sound — 8
I'm playing this Strat through a '65 Deluxe Reverb reissue, in comparison with an Am Std Tele w/ Fender '51 Nocaster pickups and a Am Std Strat ('00 model with Fender 57/62 pickups). I was originally going to go with the Am Std Strat and change the pickups but I wanted to go for the Deluxe to try out the N3's. While I like the sound of these pickups, I feel that they don't go that extra mile that after-market sets offer - namely the Custom Shop '69's or the 57/62's in my older Strat. You can no doubt get the signature Fender cleans with these pickups but you'll probably want to switch them out for another set down the line. On a brighter note, although they are not "noiseless", they are certainly the quietest pickups I've used in any Tele or Strat. I've only fiddled around with the S-1 switch a couple of times but I wasn't too impressed, so I just stick to the stock 5 positions a Strat is known for. I play Beatles, RHCP, Nickelback, Green Day (anything was "alt." in the 90's as well as a bit of country here and there. I use it in tandem with a Wilson Ten Spot II wah, Line 6 DM-4, FM-4 and DL-4, EHX Small Stone and Electric Mistress and a Red Witch Empress Chorus. It seems to fly through these pedals well, preserving that clean tone we all aim for, while really digging deep into the effect that's used.
Overall Impression — 8
Frusciante, Klinghoffer, Hendrix, May, Satriani and anything with Fender cleans. I've been playing for around 10 years, amassing a bit of gear that I cherish. I used to think I was a Fender Strat-only kinda guy... Until I got a Tele. The playability of the Tele overshadows that of the Strat, but maybe due to the fact that it's been properly set up. I still love this guitar though, sometimes you feel like playing a Strat and sometimes it's a Tele you crave, each have their strengths. My only wish would be that it'd have 24-frets but the amount of times I've actually need those last two is negligible. I'll be looking to change these pickups in the future and get it PLEK'ed and am sure it'll be a dream to play alongside the Tele. I love the contoured body against the Tele and the 5-way pickup selector instead of the 3-way in the Tele. If it were lost/stolen, I'd definitely go buy another Strat. Not sure if it'd be the Deluxe model, depends on the pickups of the said model and the prices of Am Std Strats at the time in comparison to the higher-end Strats. It's a guitar I'll always love no matter what colour.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Although this Fender would suit pretty much anything, it can surely be depended upon, especially in the scene of live gigs. I play small clubs on the basis of once a fortnight-once a month and I'd have no hesitation to take this guitar along with me. The pickups (although a little flat in some areas) provide a wide range of tones. Being a Am Deluxe Fender, the guitar feels like it's built to last. Having three guitars, although I can depend on this one, I'd always take a backup unless I broke a string (very rare), or just on the whim that I'd like to use a Tele for a few numbers.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Comparing this guitar to a Tele and Strat that have been PLEK'ed, you can certainly tell the difference between this guitar and the other two, in terms of playability and action. Granted, most guitars will need to be re-setup due to inevitable bumps during shipping but I guess this could have been remedied by picking the guitar up for the shop (and thus playing it before buying). In saying this, it is still a guitar that feels great, it's just that I've been spoilt with other guitars that have been properly set up. The pickups sound even across the board, whereas most Strat bridges seem to have that bit more bite and volume. At first the neck felt a bit clunky to play on - the first couple of times the guitar felt too new against my other Strat and Tele. 6 months down the track though and I've either gotten used to it or it just doesn't feel as hard on the fingers.
Features — 8
2011 model, maple neck, tungsten finish (black pickguard), 22 med-jumbo frets, alder body, N3 noiseless pickups (SSS) with S-1 switching system, locking tuners. Came with Fender hard case, Fender lead and associated guitar tools.