Price paid: $ 1200
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 8
2012 American Standard Strat. Made in the good ol' United States of America. The neck is 22 fret, 25.5 scale, bolt-on with a rosewood fingerboard. It's painted in the classic sunburst color scheme with heavy clear coat and a white pick guard. It is, of course, a solid body made of ash wood - not sure if the ash is swamp or another type. It is a one volume, two tone knob set up. It has three single coil, low resistance passive pickups. It came with the new style polymer case, which was damaged by the idiot baggage handlers.
Sound — 9
Most guitar players who've been in the game a while will know what a stock Strat sounds like. It has more of a twangy sound and fantastic sustain, which in my VERY uneducated opinion is due to two things:
1. The Thick maple neck.
2. The dense ash body.
The single coil pickups are both a curse and a blessing. The curse is they can be noisy, especially if there are other electronics plugged into the room or electronic circuit you're on. They are a blessing in that they sound unique and can get some of the best harmonics. Many players are under the very mistaken but understandable impression that higher output (i.e. higher RESISTANCE) pickups produce better harmonics. Not true, lower output (i.e lower resistance) pickups are better at letting the high harmonic tones pass more easily as signal.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Needless to say, Fender is without any doubt one of the world's premiere guitar manufacturers. Despite their quality control, I always get my guitars set up by my personal tech. All that said, the neck is good for some players, but I find it rather unwieldy and prefer other guitars for more intricate lead work. This guitar is part of my collection mostly because its part of my childhood, a part of the American tapestry and a invaluable part of Rock and Roll history. In my mind, it would be close to a sin not to own at least one.
Reliability & Durability — 10
American made Strats (and even Mexican and Asian made Strats) are solidly built and will last a lifetime or more. They are bad-ass rock machines, whether left in the store bought stock configuration or when heavily modded. They're modular, so the neck can be replaced. The truss is accessible at the head so it's easily adjusted. Though it wouldn't be my first choice, I would certainly use it in a gig. I don't, however, gig anywhere without some sort of 2nd guitar. The finish is beautiful and among the best available. I love my Gibson Flying V, but the paint job and finish is nowhere near as nice as my Strat.
Overall Impression — 9
My playing is rock and rhythm and blues oriented, which the Stratocaster is tailor made for. If it was stolen or lost I would be heartbroken and absolutely would feel the need to replace it as part of my collection. Despite the fact that it's not my favorite player, it's beautiful and I love the sounds I can get out of it - as stated above, the harmonics and tones are unique and hard to replicate with other guitars.
What I don't like is the BUZZ. The two-coil humbucker was invented for this very reason, to BUCK the HUM that comes with these types of single coil pickups.