American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster Review

manufacturer: Fender date: 11/09/2012 category: Electric Guitars
Fender: American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster
Classic looks, modern tone and feel! Our new Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster guitar fuses the best of the old and the new in one smokin' instrument. Great classic features include vintage styling and a thin-skin nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9
 Features: 9
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 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (3) pictures (1) 23 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.4
American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster Reviewed by: Ippon, on november 09, 2012
6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 350

Purchased from: Nara, Japan

Features: Nobody has done a review of this model so I want to share my findings. I have 3 Made in Japan (MIJ) '62 Re-Issues: Burst, Pink, and Fiesta Red. I bought these guitars new in 2007 in Nara and Hamamatsu, Japan. They were designated as Premium; meaning, Alder body, instead of the Basswood on some models and they came with Fender 57/62 PUs, instead of the more commonly available Texas Specials (no offense but yuck). The neck is Maple with a Rosewood fretboard. The finishes on these MIJ models are as beautiful as their American Vintage '62 (AV Series) counterparts. The MIJ has Nitro over a Polyurethane base, very smart and makes it almost Bullet-proof. If you're fussy about appearances, which I am, you can view the guitar from all angles with maximum lighting, go through every square inch, inspect the routing, the neck pocket, and not find anything worth criticizing. These guitars are very well-made. The curious thing is that two came with the traditional 7.25 radius and one had the 9.5 radius. The 9.5 mirrored the MIA models back when people complained about bending on the 7.25 and Fender accommodated with the flatter 9.5 fretboard radius. I could bend all day on the 7.25 and not complain. The neck is U-shaped, which makes it a bit chunkier than the C. The Rosewood fretboard doesn't disappoint and on the Red and Burst ones, quite dark. // 10

Sound: I play almost all kinds of music; but, I tend to go back to blues and classic rock, a lot. The 57/62 + Fender tube amps define the Strat tone, an opinion. This is the model you will use if somebody asked for the classic Strat sound, through a Fender tube/valve amp, of course. The trebles and basses on the '62 RI's configuration are so well-balanced that the neck and middle PUs will provide the Fender growl when attacked. The MIJ models came Standard with the 3-position switches but they also came with a 5-position spare, nice touch! I installed the 5-position just because. There are a lot of people Who complain about the electronics on MIJs and I don't understand it. The Japanese are well-known and highly-regarded in: you guessed right, Electronics. It's easy and straightforward to go with MIA electronics but I've never felt the need. MusiciansFriend and Guitar Center carries the MIA Fender-branded electronics if you're inclined and believe they will "improve" your tone. The stock '57/'62 PUs is all I need to play it clean or dirty and cranked. The well-balanced Mid and Neck PUs provide a very substantial and raunchy growl when over-driven. Think of the cleanest Blues all the way to Deep Purple/Richie Blackmore or Alice In Chains. I have access to an actual '60 Strat (based on the SN 491XX) and in comparison, the '62 RI has an edge (my perception): the notes were clearer with a bit more punch. The original '60 Strat with the 48-year old PUs and electronics were "softer and tended to break up earlier. Of course, some tone chasers prefer this, so it's all preferences. As far as the SC hum, it's there when you're not playing; however, once you're performing, it's no longer there or not noticeable. Is it an annoying hum when you're not playing? Only if you set it in front of your amp and you allow yourself to get annoyed with it. This is a non-issue, really. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: As with most MIJ Strats, the action was set at Medium with no buzz. Still, I adjusted the PU height, replaced the medium tremolo springs with harder ones, replaced the Standard .010s with .011s, adjusted the truss rod just a teenie bit. If you're not familiar with truss rod adjustments, don't even try it, go to a pro. I could've left it as is; however, I tweak everything to derive maximum performance. They now play perfectly and the newer '57/'62 PUs are a bit tamed and closer to the originals. The tremolo block is the usual hefty, full-sized one. For those Who care, you can go with the boutique Callaham block. That baby weighs a solid 1 pound! It's a minor tweak but it pays off when you play it dirty and need the sustain. Is it necessary, maybe not. I really appreciated the very nicely-dressed frets and superior neck feel. Even before the tweaks, there weren't any dead spots or fret buzz. I enjoy Mexican Strats but the differences and the higher quality and craftsmanship of the Japanese Fenders are immediately noticeable. I give this a 9, only because the usual, perfect set-ups on the Fender Custom Shops can rate a 10 here. // 9

Reliability & Durability: These guitars feel indestructible and are very solid. It provides the peace of mind that nothing will go wrong when you're performing in front of a crowd. The MIJ hardware should out-last me. I've never trusted the stock strap buttons on any guitar; so, I've installed straplocks. No matter how Bullet-proof a guitar feels, one should always have a back-up when performing, even if it's just a school talent show. It doesn't matter what guitar you have, you need a backup! My future grandkids would be happy when they get into guitars. I've always been very careful and always maintain my guitars; so, I'll probably won't see this guitar in a reliced state. These will look like NOS (new old stock) 50 years down the road. // 10

Overall Impression: I play all kinds of music; mostly Rock, but I also like Jazz. This Strat will play both and anything in between. I've been playing seriously for the last 3 years and to-date, I've accumulated a lot of stuff, just like any gearhead and tone chaser. Although I love my SGs and LPs, there will always be this pull from Strats. The MIJ '62 RIs are a worthy competitor to the MIA AV '62 RIs for about 60-75% of the price. I wasn't disappointed and I can't see how anybody would be as long as: you do your research (know what exactly you're getting); play the guitar for several hours (instead of a few minutes) on the same amp that you have or plan to buy; are able to compare it with similar models (MIA AV '62 series or an original, good luck); you know what a set of 57/62 PUs sound compared to Fender Lace Golds or Texas Specials or SCNs, etc. I love the combination of features (PUs, electronics, body and neck woods, finish, and hardware) that provide the definitive Strat tone. I've compared this to the '57 RI Strat, both the Japanese and the American AV Series. The '62 RI definitely has the edge since the Rosewood fretboard tames the "brightness" one gets from a maple/maple neck. The only option that I wish they offered is a Variable V neck profile. This is easily remedied though; AllParts, the Japanese manufacturer of licensed Fender necks, offers this neck profile. All parts also happens to supply the Fender Japan necks for Teles, Strats, and the P and J Basses. // 9

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overall: 9
American Vintage Hot Rod '62 Stratocaster Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 09, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1400

Purchased from: Herreid Music

Features: 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. // 8

Sound: 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. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 9

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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