American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (36 votes)
Fender: American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster
5

Price paid: $ 1699

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Sound — 8
Let me start off by saying this is not your normal Strat. I once owned the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster which weighed in at 7.7lbs, which in the technical sense for a Strat is bananas. This guitar is on par or even slightly heavier. It is not a bad heavy. It is beefy, for adults only type of sound you get out of this thing. With the weight of this guitar it is nearly a hybrid of a Les Paul and Strat, and I am not talking about a Les Paul Swiss-Cheese or chambered guitar, I am talking about a 1959, neck the size of a baseball bat, weighing in at 13lbs+ type of Les Paul. The weight of this guitar propels this Strat into new tonal territories. Also owning a Standard American Strat and then going and picking up this thing, it is almost a shock. I am shocked by how much it weighs, how much more solid it feels, and how full the sound is. I have found in my playing experience that weight adds fullness of sound. This does not disappoint. The one I have been playing for quite some time is set up with .11-.48's which adds to the girthiness of this behemoth. I hope you understand I am making the point that this is not a kid's guitar. This thing is honestly quite beefy, much harder to play than a Standard Strat but the reward is pretty great. Playing through a 1993 RI 65' Deluxe Reverb you are able to get an immensely crisp, but full and clean sound. Through Standard Strats I usually find that the Ultra clean sound can come across somewhat metallic. Due the fact that this has the extra weight it is able to fill up all the spaces of tone that a Standard American cannot. You can easily take this Strat to a more rocking level with the use of some stomp boxes. It is a lot easier to get the SRV tone when you have the right gear. I found that this HOT Rod 62' with the Deluxe Reverb and an Ibanez TS 808 used as a boost can easily achieve the sought after SRV tone. I actually feel that this guitar pulls it off better then the Stevie Ray Vaughan Strat. Reason being is that I believe the Texas Special pickups as equipped on the SRV Strat are not suited well for the guitar and too one dimensional to cover Stevie's tone. The 62' Strat can cover a lot more than just Stevie though. It really depends what amp you have it plugged in to. I found after testing with Orange, Vox, Marshall Handwired Plexi's, Dr. Z, Matchless and several others that the best fit for this guitar is some sort of Fender Blackface or early Silver Face amp. The guitars truest colors seem to show when played through a Fender Amp. You can easily create a multitude of sounds by use of several Fuzz pedals (not necessarily simultaneously), Delay, and Wah's. This guitar is in the top 10 guitars I have ever played in terms of responding to effects. It definitely catches you off guard that a guitar "from" 1962 can be this diverse in its tonal characteristics. Finally the fact that this guitar has the appointment of a tone knob connected to the treble pickup is a huge plus. If you have played any Strats that do not have this option you know how spicy and hard to control the Bridge pickup can be. Overall it is a really good guitar with a great out of the box tone. Amazing resonating characteristics all helped to earn the sound an 8.

Overall Impression — 8
At the end of the day I am a huge Gibson fanboy and big Les Paul aficionado and when I want to pickup and play it will be a Gibby into a Marshall. This guitar really has impressed me though. It has a really "fat" tone to it and can hold its own upon some more powerful humbucking guitars simply due to the weight and the thickness of the neck. With the right amp and a good pedal you can really dial this guitar in to achieve a great blues or blues/rock tone. Feel free to flame on that this guitar is one dimensional because it doesn't cover Slayer or heavy rock stuff well. Ya, no kidding it's a Strat at the end of the day. This is not meant for that type of music. If you want to play in a heavier type of genre this guitar is not for you; do not buy it, it will fail in every way. But, if you have big hands, want to fight the guitar you own to get the perfect note and sound out of it, and are willing to have a sore shoulder after playing a guitar for two hours then by all means get this. Going back I would have still purchased my Standard American Strat in comparison to this simply due to the fact that has a wider range of applications for the music that I play then this guitar. Secondly, I pick up the Strat when I need a break from carrying a 9lb Les Paul. It is a relief guitar for me. Whatever your thoughts are though, if you are a Strat fan I would highly recommend you to try and get your hands on one of these to play and feel the difference. Playing something from the 60's really makes you appreciate what the musicians of that day and age did and accomplished with the gear they had. Enjoy the tone and happy picking'.

Reliability & Durability — 7
On a reliability scale this has performed like any Strat I have owned. Pretty Standard things happen, the input jack will come loose (guaranteed if you actually play your Strat), and a truss rod adjustment after two years, but that is honestly it. I have a friend who owned one whose electronics were "pinched" inside which created a poor connection on the pickup selector Switch but he merely needed to take the screws off the Pickguard and play around with the connections and it was A-OK, no soldering required. Overall this thing is really built like a tank and I feel that this has more eyes and hands overlooking it throughout the build process.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
From the factory this guitar was set up immaculately well. This is usually on backorder for a while so you may have to order it online to get the color combination you want. This guitar is offered in Olympic White, 3-Tone Sunburst, and Green. All come with the Mint Green Pickguard which give it a semi-aged look without getting into the relicing aspect. This guitar has a Rosewood neck and a very nice satin finish on the back of the neck. Those two factors really helped the playability of this guitar. From the factory it was set up perfectly, my general feeling is that Fender does a very good job with all guitars built in America. Some of you have probably had a different experience so flame on in the comments but this is my personal experience of all of the Fender American guitars and basses I have played. This guitar looked extremely good out of the box. I could not be happier that this has a Nitro finish, and a thin Nitro finish to boot (that was for you Canadian readers). A nice thing to know is that since this has a Thin Nitro finish you will be able to age this guitar yourself over a long period of time. This guitar is simple in looks but that is what makes it look good. Everything about it was good, for $1700, it better be.

Features — 9
This Stratocaster is actually a great combination of new and old. The Fender factory takes a 1962 Stratocaster and puts on sought after features. This is why I think this is a great guitar. If you are into the whole Vintage look, feel, and tone, but want it to have some modern appointments so you can actually play it you will not be disappointed. Specs of this guitar are: - Thin-skin nitrocellulose finish - Comfort-contoured alder body - Maple neck - Vintage C-shape profile with satin finish on back - Rosewood fingerboard - 9.5" fingerboard radius - 21 medium-jumbo frets - 25.5" scale length - Nut width: 1.650" - Chrome hardware - Fender/Gotoh vintage-style tuners - American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo - 3-ply mint green Pickguard - 3 American Vintage Strat single-coil pickups with reverse-wound/reverse-phase middle pickup - 5-position blade pickup Switch - Master volume control - Tone 1 (neck pickup) - Tone 2 (bridge pickup) - Setup with Fender Super 250R Nickel Plated Steel strings (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046) - Includes Deluxe Brown Hardshell Case, Strap, Cable, and Meguair's care kit Things to point out that are some of, as Fender calls them, Custom shop appointments include, a thin Nitrocellulose finish, tone knob that controls the treble pickup, 9.5" fingerboard radius.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TheTwoSteps
    A. You misunderstood the electronics hitman...you don't have to do anything to the tone knob; it is already wired that way from the factory, which is awesome. B. I have a custom shop strat and have access to a real 1959 Strat. On both these guitars, the input jack will eventually come loose. It is solely a nut and bolt, and because it is hanging upside-down, gravity will eventually have it's way. This is ALSO the case on my American made Les Paul. EVERY guitar that that is played A LOT, will do this. I would recommend buying an expensive American made guitar, and play it a ton, and see the quirky problems that happen to it...before talking mess. Aria guitars aren't exactly the bees neaz for a platform to talk mess about a fantastic, well regarded guitar. Go check out the reviews on harmony or tdpri...by older men who have played longer than you have been alive. Also, this guitar is not for metal fanboys like yourself. I heart Petrucci.
    hitman_47
    If after spending $1,700, you still have to fool around with the tone knob/electronics/input jacks, its a piss poor deal. I'd expect that a guitar that goes for $1,700 would at least have a $10 knob fixed right and a $5 input jack taken care of. Dude, talk about value for money! It may sound great, but its a shit deal!
    jtv005
    Good review, man. Very thoughtful and not polluted with, " It's good if you pump it full of distortion, but not as good as my Brootal Ibanez."
    leftinflinflon
    Best review i have read on this site...a real guitar player.....I had a 59 Strat, lovely but thin, I traded a 72 Les Paul Deluxe for it, that was a nice guitar as well, gold top with the smaller humbuckers, but i have moved away from heavier guitars as I have grown older...now have a 2010 Gibson J-45...heading out to pasture...love that guitar, smells just like a fine brandy and the neck feels like the inside of a women's thigh. But some of the younger plaers won't understand that. I digress...good review
    thejester
    leftinflinflon wrote: Best review i have read on this site...a real guitar player.....I had a 59 Strat, lovely but thin, I traded a 72 Les Paul Deluxe for it, that was a nice guitar as well, gold top with the smaller humbuckers, but i have moved away from heavier guitars as I have grown older...now have a 2010 Gibson J-45...heading out to pasture...love that guitar, smells just like a fine brandy and the neck feels like the inside of a women's thigh. But some of the younger plaers won't understand that. I digress...good review
    I wrote the review. thank you, and sounds like you have had some great gear. im a younger guy but the old stuff is what speaks to me. guess its just how you're raised and what you listened to. enjoy that j45 in the pasture.
    kirkshred
    Very nice guitar but I'm better off with my karolff mummy KH-602 guitar because its better for metal but I would't mind having it.
    thejester
    kirkshred wrote: Very nice guitar but I'm better off with my karolff mummy KH-602 guitar because its better for metal but I would't mind having it.
    at least you're honest! thanks for the read
    dick_of_deth
    don't Les Paul's weigh over thirty pounds? Seven pounds seems light but the sound and playability is the thing. thx for filling me in,. i dig it.
    dick_of_deth
    about the price.... well thanks to the hype of the general music biz. Instruments, guitars are selling faster than ever. Like furniture! the prices have gone from six hundred in the eighties to thousands now for LP's,xampl. Aria has always made a fine import instrument. especially back when jap guitars were no name fender look alikes. OK Fender: they have a shop in LA and one south in Mexico. The quality is different for sure. cheaper parts mostly. Workmanship these days is done alot by machine. So they use cheaper paint , less of it, etc. Personally for me it comes down to the sound, And the old Fenders and the single coils just sound different. I do have a LP ?... WY TH FK did Gibson stop putting MAPLE NECKS on there LPs's? it's been over twenty years now. **** mahogoney necks. if not for the five grand ZW model. your ****d with gibson these days. Or you get used to it. I mean if u play u play anything.
    thejester
    dick_of_deth wrote: don't Les Paul's weigh over thirty pounds? Seven pounds seems light but the sound and playability is the thing. thx for filling me in,. i dig it.
    not sure if you are serious with this. definitely nowhere close to 30lbs. ever. just weighed my trad pro at 9lbs today, and that is with chambering. old lps can hover between 9-14lbs. think about how heavy 30lbs is and think of all that weight resting on your shoulder. also in regards to your second post i really have to disagree with what i could comprehend. the ZW model is not the only good gibson they make. they make a ton of really great models. i dont know how you narrow it down to that, i own two gibsons myself both are of excellent build and since when did gibson put on these maple necks? from what i recall the flagship of les pauls the 59' and everything from that era has always and continues to be mahogoney. they currently have the 'raw power' series with all maple which looks horrible but please explain that to us.
    KG6_Steven
    I own a '62 Hot Rod and have had it for a few years now. I really like mine. It works well for what I use it for. I play mine into a couple of different Mesa amps, Peavey and a Rivera and it sounds great.
    dlust
    Although not a seasoned player, I just would like to pass on a thumbs up for the Raw Power, mine, although needing some work when received, really feels great and reminds me alot of the L6 that I owned in my youth.