Blacktop Stratocaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.6 (105 votes)
Fender: Blacktop Stratocaster
0

Price paid: $ 430

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Sound — 10
I'm a relative noobie so play anything that I can. Country, folk rock, rock, punk, whatever. I have a Fender 212 DSP amp which gives plenty of variety of tones and effects itself so don't have any other equipment. The humbuckers produce very full, rich sound, and are way better than you would expect. The single coils when isolated sound just like my Standard Strat. (Understand that a lifetime shooting/firearm instructing has blessed me with imperfect hearing!)

Overall Impression — 10
As I said, I will play anything that I am capable of. I have only been playing a year and a half so don't have the experience of many visitors to the site, but I believe I can tell something decent from something that isn't. I have rated this instrument with regard to the price I paid, and can only say that it is absolutely Stellar value for money. I love the finish, the maple fretboard is beautiful, the candy cola finish sparkles, the tone from the pups is full and rich. What's not to like? I bought it because I like to keep my MIA in it's case for protection and wanted a cheaper guitar to leave out on a stand and not to worry about it getting a few knocks. This piece is so good I had to buy a case for it too! You may ask why I rate it so high. It's because, even at twice the price, I can't fault it. If it were stolen I would buy another immediately. I like Strats, but wanted the tone of humbuckers, so for me this guitar is perfect.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The guitar looks as well made as my MIA Strat and I am sure it will withstand heavy use. I just play for my own entertainment, but I can't see why a person wouldn't gig with it. The finish looks well applied and not likely to wear off anytime soon. Certainly the guitar will be durable, but obviously I can't really comment on reliability as it is a new model.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar was well set up on receipt, although as I am not fond of using a tremolo I have the bridge set up flush with the body. Most people wouldn't have to bother altering the setup. The finish on the neck doesn't seem to make any difference to the way it handles. Frets nicely finished. In fact, side by side with my '09 MIA it's hard to tell which is the Mexican. I can't find any fault with this instrument. Not everyone will like the black control knobs, but at least they're different.

Features — 10
2010 made in Mexico. 22 Frets, 91/2 radius Maple neck and fretboard. Alder body. Mine has a Candy Cola finish with mint pickguard. Vintage style synchronized tremolo. There are two "hot" (Fender's description) humbuckers, controlled by a master volume knob, and a tone knob for each pickup. Usual Strat 5 way Switch 1.Full bridge, 2. Inside coils, 3. Both full, 4. Outer neck single coil, 5. Full neck. There were no accessories included except for the tremolo arm. Standard Fender non staggered tuners. The neck is gloss finished back and front - unlike a MIA Standard which has a satin back.

65 comments sorted by best / new / date

    seemeel
    Maybe Fenders aren't much chop for METAL, Mr metalheadTim, but I have found them to be superior to similarly priced Epiphones, and far better than Ibanez (which at that price seem to be plain nasty). But yeah, review fail.
    crazy8rgood
    "This guitar looks durable, it could withstand heavy use." "I wouldn't gig with it." Wut?
    M3AK
    seemeel wrote: Maybe Fenders aren't much chop for METAL, Mr metalheadTim, but I have found them to be superior to similarly priced Epiphones, and far better than Ibanez (which at that price seem to be plain nasty). But yeah, review fail.
    Who said fenders aren't much chop for metal? I'm pretty sure the lads in Iron Maiden wouldn' be saying so.Janick and Dave play fenders as well as Steve and Adrian okays a Jackson which looks like a fender, feels like a fender, sounds like a fender and the company is owned by fender. So yeah, fenders are pretty metal.
    Gu1tar_guy1010
    Why does everybody quickly glance through it, see 10's, then start to rip the review apart. In the last paragraph he said "I have rated this instrument with regard to the price I paid, and can only say that it is absolutely Stellar value for money. " Read people! Read!
    rickygarcia90
    Why does everyone think that just because it's less than $500 means that it has to have something wrong with it? The Squiers coming out of Japan in the 80's weren't much more expensive than a Mexican Strat, but they were actually higher quality than the American Strats at the time. Yeah, MIA Fenders are top quality these days, but they cost so much because they have the "Made in America" branded on them. As if people forgot that price doesn't always equal quality. And the numbers are purely subjective. What matters is what the reviewer actually SAID in his review. Why would you go by the numbers that someone who isn't you put?
    Plan009
    everjump wrote: Twistedrock wrote: Jim Root anybody? john 5??
    Thank you! I'm glad I wasn't the only one who remembered they played on Fenders...
    rv_phoenix
    Iceler wrote: Strat and humbuckers it's a bullshit!
    Yeah, that's why virtually all Metal music in the '80s was played on SuperStrats: Strat bodies with two humbuckers, just like this Blacktop... I think it's a stupid thing to pronounce verdicts without actually hearing and playing the instrument.
    jetwash69
    M3AK wrote: Who said fenders aren't much chop for metal? I'm pretty sure the lads in Iron Maiden wouldn' be saying so.Janick and Dave play fenders as well as Steve and Adrian okays a Jackson which looks like a fender, feels like a fender, sounds like a fender and the company is owned by fender. So yeah, fenders are pretty metal.
    Most Fenders don't have a Floyd Rose like Dave's, or a couple of truly hot humbuckers. And even those guys have a few 24 fret guitars in their racks that at least one of them has to use for the songs with the high notes. Don't get me wrong, lately I've been playing my SSS MIA Strat more than anything else even though it's my least metal guitar--other than the Fender accoustic, that is... Anyway, nice to see Fender with a 22 fret guitar and an HH config again, even if the 'buckers aren't that agressive. Waiting for the Showmasters to come back, though...or find one in a pawn shop that I can't pass up!
    doive
    crazy8rgood wrote: "This guitar looks durable, it could withstand heavy use." [s]"I wouldn't gig with it."[s] Wut?
    "I just play for my own entertainment, but I can't see why a person wouldn't gig with it" If you actually read it you would be less confused...
    M3AK
    Who cares about what number rating he gave every section? Seriously guys just read the information he's providing and stop being such douchebags.
    Ibzvm-1
    All right, so here's the deal: I've been playing (both professionally and post-professionally) for like 30 years now -holy cow!!!!)I grew up in the age of shred and cut my teeth with the likes of Vinnie Moore, vai, Satch, Malmsteen. I know a thing or two about a thing or two about guitars, and about luthiery and such. I believe strongly that at every price point, Ibanez makes at least one model (usually an RG) that is just a little bit better everyone else's guitar. Don't flame me for this it's an opinion. However, let it be known that since 1987, Ibanez has turned luthiery from a conservative, good-old-boys art dominated by a LACK of ideas and sticking to tradition that is useless into a real-live ergonomic science. thank them for flat-radiused fretboards, the best locking trems ever designed, and some of the greatest looking, functional instruments ever made. Now back on track: I got rid of all my gear a few years ago and now I'm looking to get back in, but inexpensively; I am considering the followingL LTd st-203FR, Fender Blacktop strat, Ibanez RG-470AH, and Kramer Pacer Classic. I really wanna get away from the Ibanez axe this time around, and I've spent about 5 hours on a black/maple blacktop strat. Pickups are EXCELLENT. I compared them to a set of EMGs (81/85) on a schecter, as well as to the Humbucker on both a mexican HSS standard and the American Standard HSS ($1000.00 model). on the HSSS (eventhe 1000.00 american strat), I would HAVE to pull the weak-ass humbucker on it. It's thin, trebly and lacks any kind of character whatsoever. I know that is just because Fender has a different purpose intended for the axe, but still. I am also not a big fan of EMGs anyway, but the BT strat's HBs keep up, and actually sing with more character under modern lead distortion. They are clean and bell-like in clean tones (Twin Reverb is like.. .Wow, nice tones). My default setting for Alder is Tone Zone (Fred or EVO on Basswood) and PAF Pro or Air Norton, but I don't see a need to change these out. They are not quite tone-zone for mids, but the bell like clarity of lead tone is kind of Double-Whammy. The things I don't like (but may get used to if I bite, and I think I am probably going to) are: 9.5" radius fretboard. THIS is what I was referring to about modern luthiery and being stuck in the past. It's like an evolution-creation argument. Science and engineering says 430mm radius wizard, fender says 7 days and 9.5". And then the medium fretwire. It is mostly just a pain for tapping/right hand stuff, cause notes dont pop as easily. But, after about 2 hours of playing, I was so used to it, I couldn't pick up the rg920qm I was comparing it to, cuz the fretboard was TOO FLAT... go figure... Anyway... I concur with these reviews. Solidly built, excellent workmanship. If you like the strat look and need two humbuckers, this thing does that and then some. And the look is very 'road-house' ish with the metal covered pickups. Black/black pickguard with maple neck would also look pretty cool w/ white dimarzios... Just sayin... Hope this helps somebody.
    talljoe
    Celticstorm,84, I couldn't agree more about the numbers. My 10 could be someone else'e 5, and vice versa. The difference between my ratings above, and those critical of them, is that I have this guitar in my hand, and they have something that shouldn't be mentioned, on a family forum at least, in theirs. TJ
    Seref
    Oh man... these comments are good. Really shows off human intelligence.
    Ibzvm-1
    Oh yeah... The Charvel So-Cal pro-mod is also pretty interesting. Note they use a Tone Zone and PAF Pro on Alder. And they didn't even consult me! However, it's about 2x the price. (compound radius fretboard to 16" at the bottom, which is about 400mm...). They (and Jackson) owe that to Ibanez. And oh: Charvel and Jackson are BOTH owned by Fender. Which explains why you can't get a Fender with a compound-radiused neck: Fender has decided to leave fender untouched for the neanderthals and purists of the guitar world!!!!! LOL. Seriously, though, Mexican Blacktop is pretty darned nice.
    METAL JEFF
    I just got on but the Fr model.This is a superior guitar,trust me.That dude that was talking junk about Ibanez,Epiphone and Schecter,please.Those guitars in the anything under $1000 price range are junk.This new Blacktop is a guitar players dream come true for $550.I had an American Standard and it's a great guitar but not nearly as versitile and not even better made than this.Trust me this not your daddy's strat this is modern rock/metal/blues/country/jazz,you name it machime period.
    m4ss3 m/
    Twistedrock wrote: Thats The reason im getting it Im thinking of even putting EMG 81/EMG 60 in it
    Just get a Jim Root Stratocaster. It costs little more but less trouble because it already has Emg pickups.
    Linkerman
    This guitar is pretty awesome, i tried a few Blacktop models (Strat, Tele and Jazzmaster) when they arrived to a friend's store a couple weeks ago, and i loved them all. They certainly are among the best in the 400-500 price range. Still, i wouldn't rate them with straight 10s. In my opinion, they're 8,5 to 9 guitars.
    noisewall11
    honestly, i think anyone saying you can't use a strat for metal is stupid. as far as metal sound goes, it depends on what amp and overdrive/dist. your using if you ask me. only metal i don't think a strat could play is the super detuned, 7 string with EMG's stuff (after the burial is a good example)
    eddiewuzheer
    RythmicTension wrote: Fenders Rock. Haters suck! Gibsons Rock. Haters suck! Every other guitar rocks. Haters suck!
    Agreed. And KillerRabbit117 is probably wondering how we make the incredible little gray boxes around the comments that we wish to comment on.
    tomkananzy
    Even though I'm sure Fenders are amazing, I highly doubt that a $430 guitar can be rated all 10s. I mean there has to be something wrong with it even if you are rating the guitar based on its price range. Perhapes you should have a more realistic and unbiased review next time, but thanks for the review anyways : D
    talljoe
    I rated this guitar with regard to it's PRICE. Side by side with my MIA which cost three times as much, the only thing that gives it away as a Mexican is the string tree. I guess it isn't as good a guitar as the MIA, but it plays the same, sounds great and looks great. What would you mark it down for? No bad fretwork, no bad paint, stays in tune. I think it is GREAT bang for the buck. Other makers may well produce good guitars for $400, also worthy of a 10, but I haven't tried them. I was ready for the flamers, take it how you want. I suppose I could have given it straight 9's, and no-one would have said a dicky bird. The review would have been the same. I have seen new Standard Mexican Strats for $550, so save over a hundred bucks and give it the extra point. Funny no-one noticed that the colour is actually called 'Candy Apple Red' ! (Not Candy Cola !) But then, reading comprehension doesn't look like it's a strong point with some ;
    KillerRabbit117
    RythmicTension wrote: Fenders Rock. Haters suck! Gibsons Rock. Haters suck! Every other guitar rocks. Haters suck! Agreed. Agreed^2
    hardrox
    RythmicTension wrote: Fenders Rock. Haters suck! Gibsons Rock. Haters suck! Every other guitar rocks. Haters suck!
    Agreed.
    gizmoss
    eSdaze wrote: God I hate people that suck up commercials and marketing tricks like sponges. Like a few people said, it's not because a guitar costs less that it is worth. For about 600 you got the best guitar in the world, if you like it's tone. Idiots that think they can hear the difference between spruce, maple, rosewood etc make me cringe. Same thing with spending more than 10 on a wine, it is tested that they are not better and that prices get boosted artificially. The only time I'd spend lots of cash on a guitar is if it would be an acoustic one. All the rest is make believe, put a distortion pedal on the guitar and I bet a random beginner guitar would probably sound even better than a 1.990$ fender custom build. For once and for all it's your skill, your touch, your attack, what you do with your guitar and adapt to it that makes it sound good.
    So in your opinion there is no difference between 60 and 600 guitar? So it dosn't matter if its made from plywood or mohagony? From how manny pices of wood it's made? What quality hardware is put on? How good frets are set to neck? And finaly how good is quality check in factory? Thats why some guitars costs 60 and other 3000. The brand name naturaly add 30-50% to price so this guitar is like 250-300$ quality.
    eSdaze
    God I hate people that suck up commercials and marketing tricks like sponges. Like a few people said, it's not because a guitar costs less that it is worth. For about 600 you got the best guitar in the world, if you like it's tone. Idiots that think they can hear the difference between spruce, maple, rosewood etc make me cringe. Same thing with spending more than 10 on a wine, it is tested that they are not better and that prices get boosted artificially. The only time I'd spend lots of cash on a guitar is if it would be an acoustic one. All the rest is make believe, put a distortion pedal on the guitar and I bet a random beginner guitar would probably sound even better than a 1.990$ fender custom build. For once and for all it's your skill, your touch, your attack, what you do with your guitar and adapt to it that makes it sound good.
    NickGiovanni
    seemeel wrote: Maybe Fenders aren't much chop for METAL, Mr metalheadTim, but I have found them to be superior to similarly priced Epiphones, and far better than Ibanez (which at that price seem to be plain nasty). But yeah, review fail.
    Not a fail, just subject to opinion. Besides, Ibanez's are 10x more versatile then the fender's in this price range, and if you beleive they suck. Then, by all means sir, you suck. Personal Opinions are so much fun!
    celticstorm84
    Nice looking guitar. I'm not much of a single coil fan so this I'll check out. Nice review. Maybe I'm weird, could care less about numerical ratings, they really don't mean anything or make any difference whatsoeffingever.
    mydian
    talljoe wrote: Celticstorm,84, I couldn't agree more about the numbers. My 10 could be someone else'e 5, and vice versa. The difference between my ratings above, and those critical of them, is that I have this guitar in my hand, and they have something that shouldn't be mentioned, on a family forum at least, in theirs. TJ
    haha well said.
    jolly_26
    cheers for the review, for some reason it doesn't matter what you write in a review people will shut you down. I don't get it haha be a bit more friendly guys we're all guitarists here
    gizmoss
    Oh...straight TEN...Im starting to see flames comming your way. On guitar worth 450$??? Dont make me laugh.
    ZA58
    all 10s ain't helpful so be more critical when you get so more playing under your fingers but still this guitars are very classic lookin
    evileenz
    I was thinking of buying one of these guitars but I don't like the idea of humbuckers on a scratch plate. I do like some strats but I wish fender would make a decent rear routed strat. in other words this guitar could have been so much better than what it is, if fender only stopped for two minutes and thought about what they were making
    m4ss3 m/
    OP-IVY wrote: The Jim Root is made of mahogany. different beast altogether.
    I think it would just fit better for metal and I assume this guy was going to play metal because Emgs..
    jetwash69
    jetwash69 wrote: M3AK wrote: Who said fenders aren't much chop for metal? I'm pretty sure the lads in Iron Maiden wouldn' be saying so.Janick and Dave play fenders as well as Steve and Adrian okays a Jackson which looks like a fender, feels like a fender, sounds like a fender and the company is owned by fender. So yeah, fenders are pretty metal. Most Fenders don't have a Floyd Rose like Dave's, or a couple of truly hot humbuckers. And even those guys have a few 24 fret guitars in their racks that at least one of them has to use for the songs with the high notes...
    Wow, have these really been out that long? Hard to believe it's already been a year. I finally played a couple of these in stores and I gotta say these are impressive. The best MIM Strats I've ever seen. If it had a 2-point trem and the good tuners it would rival an MIA Strat, but with these pups it's still a lot more fun than any MIA I've played--including my '06 SSS MIA. And for the same price you can get one with a Floyd Rose (not licensed, but maybe not a true OFR; maybe it's a "special" or something). Anyway it's every penny, and if the rating should be relative to the price, I'd give the FR version 10s, too.
    shredaimlessly
    I played one at the local music store recently, and I was BLOWN AWAY by how great the finish and feel was! I prefer how the neck and action on this baby was than the various USA strats I compared it to. The only thing is... the pickups were kind of week. In all honesty, I'd binge on a '59 PAF or a Duncan Jazz for the neck (I'm a sucker for that pickup), and for the bridge, something a little higher output, maybe a Full Shred or something, I dunno. I tried the regular red/rosewood model, but I'm shootin' for the titanium/rosewood Floyd model. Cuz I love myself a titanium finish and I like myself a nice original Floyd.
    Zdsguitar
    I tried this guitar myself at my local music store also and I must say it feels great to play, but just doesn't fit all my demands. It's still a great guitar though, I'd give it an 8 out of 10
    MaggaraMarine
    M3AK wrote: seemeel wrote: Maybe Fenders aren't much chop for METAL, Mr metalheadTim, but I have found them to be superior to similarly priced Epiphones, and far better than Ibanez (which at that price seem to be plain nasty). But yeah, review fail. Who said fenders aren't much chop for metal? I'm pretty sure the lads in Iron Maiden wouldn' be saying so.Janick and Dave play fenders as well as Steve and Adrian okays a Jackson which looks like a fender, feels like a fender, sounds like a fender and the company is owned by fender. So yeah, fenders are pretty metal.
    But the majority of UGers consider metal as modern (extreme) metal. And if you say it can do metal, and you mean it can do Iron Maiden and other classic metal, then it's not really a metal guitar. It must be able to do all that death/thrash/black etc. metal. So I wouldn't call Fender a metal guitar. It's more like designed for classic/hard rock/blues. That doesn't mean it can't do metal but it's not the best guitar for metal. So you'd better buy an Ibanez if you only play extreme metal. And of course any guitar can do metal if you can play it. But you will get "more metal" sound with active humbuckers. So metal guitars would be something like Ibanez, Jackson RR, Dean, BC Rich etc. Guitars that are designed for metal in the first place.
    MaggaraMarine
    NickGiovanni wrote: seemeel wrote: Maybe Fenders aren't much chop for METAL, Mr metalheadTim, but I have found them to be superior to similarly priced Epiphones, and far better than Ibanez (which at that price seem to be plain nasty). But yeah, review fail. Not a fail, just subject to opinion. Besides, Ibanez's are 10x more versatile then the fender's in this price range, and if you beleive they suck. Then, by all means sir, you suck. Personal Opinions are so much fun!
    Well... I haven't liked any Ibanez I have played that much (except an old Blazer, and maybe SA160 and RGA72 that our school has). Not really a fan of them. I mean that they just have not felt right in my hands. When I first touched the Charvel So Cal that I bought, there was some magic that I didn't feel when trying some Ibanezes.
    OP-IVY
    The Jim Root is made of mahogany. different beast altogether.
    megadethfan 666
    m4ss3 m/ wrote: Twistedrock wrote: Thats The reason im getting it Im thinking of even putting EMG 81/EMG 60 in it Just get a Jim Root Stratocaster. It costs little more but less trouble because it already has Emg pickups.
    OP-IVY wrote: The Jim Root is made of mahogany. different beast altogether.
    or just get a guitar that built for metal like jackson if you still want to get some thing under the fender branch(there not made by fender, fender just owns jackson)