Price paid: $ 1400
Purchased from: Herreid Music
Sound — 9
On my own, I play rock, hard rock, grunge, blues, garage rock, punk, and stoner metal. With my band I play primarily hard rock (think Queens Of The Stone Age, Audioslave)/grunge (Pumpkins, STP, Soundgarden). For my home stuff, I use a Blackheart 5W amp with a Big Muff. With the band, I use a Marshall JCM2000 DSL50 and 1960 cab, sometimes with an Ibanez delay. This guitar just sounds good. It's a very bright guitar, but it cuts through the rest of the band's sound well and has a nice bite to it. It does have the Standard single coil hum, but it's really not that bothersome most of the time. The bridge pickup was annoyingly bright when I got the guitar about a year ago, but it's grown on me since then (still needs a tone control though). I rarely use it for rhythm unless I need to palm mute or I want a jangly sound; mostly I use it for soloing. The middle pickup is my favorite for rhythm playing, and probably gets the most use on the guitar. The neck pickup is only used for soloing for me. But it gets a lot of use; in a few words, it is smooth, creamy, midrangey bliss. So far, anything I play-this Strat can do. Very versatile guitar. The pickups are pretty low output so don't expect to play much metal, but it can still do it (Maiden, anyone? ). However, that's not what it's meant for. It isn't exactly an ideal hard rock guitar at first either, but it sounds unique in what I play because you mostly see Les Pauls and other 'bucker guitars. And of course, it's got the amazing, shimmering clean sound that Strats are known for.
Overall Impression — 9
It may not be the norm for some of my styles of music, but it's a unique sound when it isn't. I own a Gibson double-cutaway LP and I've played countless guitars, but in nearly 2 years of playing I haven't acquired one that I like the feel of more. I am going to have it wired up so the bridge pup has a tone control at the very least, and possibly get a push/pull installed so I can run the bridge and mid pups in series as a makeshift humbucker. That said, I love just about everything about it and I would be really upset if it was stolen or lost.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've played this guitar for just about a year as my main guitar and it's withstood everything I could throw at it, so I would say it can take Live playing. I think this guitar will last for a while as long as I take care of it. I know I can depend on it, but I don't gig without a backup because you always should if you can. The strap buttons weren't alright, but I change them out for Schaller locks on any guitar so I can't really say just how good. The finish may start wearing, but to me there's nothing better than a well-love and played Strat.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The people at Fender did a fantastic job building this one. I can't find any cosmetic flaws, it hasn't had any eletrical problems, and it stays in tune very well (I rarely use the trem, if ever though). The factory setup wasn't too great though. The low E was set too low and the note would actually hover around the one I held down and not sustain well. A setup from my local tech and a set of 10's made the guitar play awesome though (even good enough to make the anti-Fender other guitarist in my band admit that it was a nice guitar). The neck on this guitar is my favorite of any guitar I've played. The Fender C shape is a nice size for me; it isn't even close to those tiny shredder necks (which I hate) but it isn't too big. This guitar excels at chording and rhythm work, but as long as you aren't into Ibanezes, it works just as good for lead playing. The sunburst finish was nowhere near my first choice, I was intent on a red Strat actually. But seeing it in person totally changed my mind. The finish is plain gorgeous when you are actually holding the guitar.
Features — 8
My Strat is a 2007 MIA model (American Vintage series) in 3-tone sunburst. Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard with 21 frets. 57/62 custom shop pickups, master volume and 2 tone controls (neck and middle), and 3 way pickup selector. The AV series also uses thin nitrocellulose finishes which let the wood breathe and age. The guitar came with a bunch of goodies; nice Vintage style case, strap, cleaning kit, strap, cable, extra springs, 5 way Switch for retrofit. My only complaint is that there is no tone control for the bridge, but I'm planning on getting it rewired so I will have one.