American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.6 Good
  • Users' score: 8.8 (36 votes)
Fender: American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster
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Price paid: £ 900

Purchased from: GAK

Sound — 7
I am a guitar teacher and play all styles of music but favour classic rock. My favourite guitar tones generally belong to Strat players like Hendrix, Frusciante, Blackmore etc but this guitar is very versatile and can cover most styles. It is used with an Egnater Rebel 20 or an ADA MP-1 Pre-Amp with the Egnater acting as a power amp. It is light compared to my old Standard Strat and sounds more resonant unplugged. The tone is quite dark for a Strat which gives it a full, warm sound especially on the neck pickup. I replaced the tone capacitor with a smaller value to brighten it up a bit. The guitar sounds great both clean and with distortion and the natural sound of the guitar comes through but can get a little noisy at higher gain settings but that's pretty standard for single coils. It is generally my main guitar both for teaching and performing and although I have others I find myself always coming back to that classic Strat sound.

Overall Impression — 8
Everyone should have a great Strat style guitar in their collection. It has such a unique, distinctive sound and theses reissues are in my opinion some of the best available outside of the custom shop. I have been playing guitar for 19 years and have owned several Strats as well as Teles and Les Pauls, this is my favourite guitar and if lost/stolen I would certainly try to find a similar one to replace it. There is very little to dislike about this guitar but the truss rod placement can be annoying if you like to set up your own guitars! I love Vintage style guitars and this is the closest you can get without spending a fortune.

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Reliability & Durability — 8
I have never had a problem with this guitar letting me down live, It stays in tune even with lots of whammy bar abuse and I've never broken a string on it (I do use lubrication on the bridge and nut though) The hardware is quality and should last a lifetime. The finish is prone to dings/scratches etc but that's the point! The strap buttons are pretty solid and well shaped compared to other guitars I've owned but always worth upgrading to a locking strap just in case... The input socket is sturdy and has never come loose. I would never gig without a back up but have never needed to use it so far.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Being 2nd hand the guitar had obvious signs of wear when purchased, especially on the back but I was looking for this type of guitar as I wanted one that would age naturally as I like the look of beat up guitars but don't necessarily want to buy one falsely aged. It was well set up but I did tweak it to my own personal taste as anyone would do. The guitar appears well made with a good fitting neck pocket and great intonation. The frets were in good condition for it's age and all the hardware was in good condition. All the adjustments and changes I have made were for my own obsession with tinkering and nothing to do with any problems with the guitar. There is a bit of fret buzz in places which may be the frets getting worn but I tend to play pretty hard and don't want the action any higher! I may get the truss rod adjusted but it's a hassle having to remove the neck to make adjustments.

Features — 8
This is a hot-rodded version of the '62 reissue Stratocaster with nitrocellulose lacquer and Vintage styling but a few modern features such as 9.5" radius fretboard, larger frets and satin finish neck. Mine was purchased 2nd hand from GAK and had a few dings and buckle rash but that all adds to the character and will naturally 'relic' over time. It has an alder body in 3 tone sunburst, maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It has a Vintage 6 point tremolo and custom shop '57/'62 pickups. I have moved the middle tone control to the bridge pickup and replaced the trem block with a hand made upgrade. It has a 5 way switch and rwrp middle pickup, synthetic bone nut and Vintage style tuners.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    Bthomas9
    This is my "go to" guitar. I love the neck since I have large hands and the 9.5 radius just fits me. I did install GraphTech saddles and string tree and keep nut sauce on the nut so this thing is never out of tune. The pickups give the right vintage tone. I have 0 complaints about this one. My other "go to" guitar is a 1965 Gibson Firebird so I'm not partial to any brand.