Price paid: $ 999
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
Initially I wasn't pleased with the pickups. I waned the American Strat tones but they were out of american standards! WTF? Guitare Center out of stock on one of their boggest sellers? So I asked the pinhead on commission what else had American Standard pickups, he showed me the American Deluxe. Noiseless samarium cobalts do NOT sound like American Standards. I was however able to dial in a good useable bluesy tone. The humbucker is? But can be made to rock out like a beast with moderate coaxing, even pinched harmonics howl out like stuck pigs. I found the S1 switching system confusing and nothing I did with it made me all wet with excitement, so I never use it.
Overall Impression — 8
If Fender has the balls to charge nearly twice as much for so few extra features, I expect that guitar to practically play itself.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I haven't done much live playing with it, but what I have done went well. No squeals, squeaks, shrieks, screeches, or blurbs.
Action, Fit & Finish — 3
The factory setup for high end Fenders is supposed to be done by the same experts who say the USA Jackson custom models are acceptible. If that's the case then Jackson is gonna lose a pile of cash to ESP cos the factory setup sucked! Intonation, truss rod, string height all had to be set by yours truly. I don't mean minor tweaks for personal taste, I mean they had to be set in the first place.
Features — 10
So I picked up the American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS Limited Edition Guitar Center model from (well DUH! ) Guitar Center. For a guitar with an MSRP of over $1700 you'd expect the need for little or no setup, but that's just ducky. I had to set intonation, string height, and the truss rod. The Suire Bullet-esque single action truss rod. Some of the fret ends are sloppily dressed so if I do a fast slide with any pressure on the sides of the neck I'm likely in for a band-aid. Enough of the crap, let's talk about the good stuff. The finish on the body was flawless and glassy smooth. The finish on the neck was velvety satin, excellent for slippery runs. The hardware was well made and polished like an apple on a 2nd grade teachers desk.