Price paid: $ 640.5
Purchased from: Sounds International, Bath
Sound — 10
I was impressed with the pickups in this guitar, since my previous experience of Fender's Humbuckers (in fat strats) has been of a somewhat weedy sound. The Cyclone HH has got a Fender Atomic Humbucker in the bridge, which is one nice pickup. It keeps that classic Fender twangy sound with the added punch of a humbucker. It's got a Fender Santa-Anna humbucker in the neck, which is another very nice humbucker, and gives you a lovely sound on clean or crunch, ideal for blues playing. I'm considering replacing the bridge pickup with something Seymour Duncan (maybe a Pearly Gates), not because there's anything wrong with the stock pickup, but because I have a Stratocaster already, and wanted this guitar for a heavier hard-rock sound so that I have a good variety of sounds between the two, the Atomic could stand to be heavier for that, don't get me wrong, it's a great sound in itself. Both pickups seem to be quiet enough, except when you take them near a monitor, but all pickups seem to do that. Coupled with my Roland Cube 60, this guitar can make a wide variety of sounds, from clean and punchy to murky and distorted. Very nice sound!
Overall Impression — 10
This matches my styles of music (modern punk, classic and heavy rock, and blues) well. I've been playing about 2 years now and I have my old Squier Strat and my Mexican Fender Strat. The alan keys I got with this Cyclone for the truss-rod and bridge adjustment do not fit. Thankfully I have spares from my Strat, you probably won't have the same problem though. The thing I love most about this guitar is it's simple elegance. It's got a wonderful, smart-looking shape, it's simple, robust, and sounds great. I don't think I really hate anything about this guitar, but if I had to pick something megative it would be that the tuners don't hold tune as well as the modern-style ones as fitted to my Strat. If this were lost or stolen, I wouldn't be able to replace it because I don't think Fender make the HH model anymore. I think I'd save up and buy an American Fat Strat, or buy another mex Strat and give it a total overhaul with new pickups (humbuckers), etc. I compared this to Epiphone G-400s, since I wanted something with humbuckers. The Cyclone trunced the G-400s (even having played a few). It felt much nicer, had a better balance (SGs are very neck-heavy) and also had the whammy bar, which is a plus. It may have cost me only slightly more, but r.r.p.s at a much higher price, it's a vastly superior guitar to the G-400. However, for the 550 it's meant to sell for, I'd probably reccomend either saving 150 by buying a Mexican Strat, try a few out because some are lovely and some are "just another guitar", or save up the extra cash and buy a US Fender. If you see a Cyclone HH for around 400, it's a bargain.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar seems pretty solidly built, like other Fenders in my experience. I've replaced the strap buttons with Schaller straplocks simply because I don't trust the strap not to fall off. The finish looks nice and thick and good to last. The hardware looks like it should last well, though the bridge is bound to wear out eventually. Give it a couple decades of hard playing. This guitar feels very nice, although perhaps not as nice as my Strat, just because that has my favourite neck ever. I've set the Cyclone up myself, the tremolo not being quite how I liked it from the shop. I would (and probably will) play this guitar Live, though I would take my Strat too. I'd gig it without a backup if I had to though, seems solid enough, as solid as you could expect a guitar to be.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
When I got this guitar, it had been sat in shop for ages, and the strings were so rusty you couldn't tell how good the setup was. That's why I got it for 350, not the r.r.p. of 550, because I imagine the shop wanted rid by then! I've set it up myself to my liking, with 10 thou' strings instead of .9s, and it plays very nicely indeed. The pickups seem perfectly adjusted, giving an even volume and tone on all strings. The neck is a nice "C" shape. Although Fender spec lists this as a "Modern 'C' shape", it feels more like a '70s/'80s Strat style neck. It's no bad thing, and it still feels great. Everything seems to fit correctly, all the cavities and routings are the correct size and shape. There is a slight and barely noticeable scratch on the laquer which has bene there since I bought it, but considering it already had 200 off r.r.p, I don't think it matters much.
Features — 9
I recently bought this guitar, a Fender Cyclone HH in pewter. I'm not sure exactly when it was made; the dating article on the Fender website suggests 2002-2003. It's got a Strat-style tremolo bridge, a 24.75 scale length as opposed to the usual 25.5 for Fenders. This means you can put heavier strings on and it'll still play really nicely. It's got a rosewood fretboard with dot inlays on a maple C-shaped neck, and Vintage style tuning machines. There are 22 medium jumbo frets, with good access to the upper register. A Mustang-style body made of alder makes this a fairly heavy guitar (substantially heavier than a Strat, though not as heavy as a Les Paul, thankfully). This has 2 humbucking pickups, described later, and a 3-way selector Switch. A single volume and tone control are fitted, each controlling both pickus. A decently padded Fender gig-bag comes with this, too. This guitar combines the playability of a Fender with humbucker sound and a reliable trem arm, a rare combination. The only thing it lacks is a seperate volume/tone knob for each pickup.