Price paid: $ 803
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 9
I play a wide variety of styles and therefore need instruments that can produce a wide variety of tones. It goes easily from spanky Fender cleans to growling overdrive to screaming 80s distortion. I use it with a deluxe reverb and a Fulltone OCD and I can achieve everything but those fat, modern metal tones where the PRS takes over. My only real complaints come from the pickups. Their clean sound is rather bland, almost a mockery of the classic Fender tone. They sound great overdriven and distorted however with relatively low noise for single coils. I plan to change them out for something with a more classic sound, potentially custom shops or maybe some hand wounds, we'll see. The body itself, unamplified is wonderfully resonant. It sustains longer than my PRS and rings like a bell.
Overall Impression — 9
I love this guitar, I only own guitars that make me love to play and this belongs with them. It's probably the last electric guitar I'll purchase. My great desire has always been to have a Vintage Strat but with rising costs (and a desire for a 22nd fret) I've opted to go with an American standard. I definitely made the right choice. With some adjustments and hardware changes this will be the instrument I've always wanted. I have a BA in music and have been playing guitar since november of 2005. I play in a wide variety of settings from studio work to live gigs with bands, orchestras and various other ensembles. I use a Fender Deluxe Reverb and a Fulltone OCD along with a PRS CE 22, a Taylor 712 and a Cordoba C10.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar gives an impression of reliability and I plan to keep it as part of my arsenal for years to come. I'm fairly certain with regular maintenance the guitar will be looking pretty and playing well many years down the road.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
From the factory the guitar was poorly set up. The action was quite low but every fret on every string buzzed terribly. The intonation was also rather poor. It was fairly difficult to correctly set it up too, the combination of bridge height and spring tension mixed with the saddle and truss rod adjustment proved to be a delicate relationship. It felt as if someone had set it up according to measurements but never actually played it to check. Other than that, I was happy with the condition. The finish was beautiful and unchecked, both on the body and the neck. All of the metal pieces were oiled and shined and the painted pieces were clean. The guitar was correctly assembled, no loose parts and all the screws and fixtures were properly tightened. Given the fact that action can be delicate, I'm willing to let the poor set up slide, especially considering the fact that it shipped half way across the country.
Features — 8
This is a classic Stratocaster, pretty much the same it's been since it's birth. The only significant changes Fender has made since it's creation are the addition of a 22nd fret and a no load tone pot for the middle and bridge pickup. It comes with a (supposedly) one piece alder body though mine and a few others I've seen look like two pieces. It's finished with urethane which is also a change from the older nitro finishes. It comes with a maple neck with either maple or rosewood fingerboard. The bridge is the standard American floating trem which I plan to block as soon as I get the time though they've actually done a remarkably good job with it unblocked. The controls are fairly simple, a 5 way switch with two tone pots and a master volume control. It comes with three of Fender's American Standard pickups. The no load pot is pretty simple, when turned to ten it removes the circuit entirely, allowing for a brighter tone but when it's turned back it works like a normal pot. I find this slightly irritating when trying to turn the tone down but I've found I really enjoy the brighter tones. From the factory the guitar came with a wonderful solid case with plenty of storage and protection. Surprisingly, I found a strap, cable, wrenches and a few other things in the case. Good job Fender! For more specifics, please refer to the Fender site.