Price paid: C$ 649
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Sound — 10
This guitar can easily cop clean tones of SRV and Hendrix. - very Vintage sounding sweet low output pickups. No buzzing on the pickups is a nice bonus. The 7 way pickup selection is amazing - all 3 pickups together sounds very acoustic, while the neck/bridge position is a crisp new sound great for funk chords and sweet arpeggios.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is recommended for supremo clean tones and is not recommended for modern distorted tones - the low output pickups excel at clean Vintage tones, not in high gain/high output distorted tones. The 12" radius fretboard is a feature of this guitar (same radius that Gibson guitars use) so it's great for those who want that. This guitar is really Fender's best kept secret for value and high quality. My first Strat and it's really endearing as I'm spending time adjusting (the pickup height, saddle height and truss rod) it to my touch - it's very adjustable to customise to your exact touch and sound. Thank you Fender!
Reliability & Durability — 10
Most of the hardware is standard American hardware (the gold hardware incl bridge and tuners are Standard American), the pickups are also made in America. This means generally more reliable quality. No need to replace those parts unless you have a specific reason to do so. This is a quality Strat.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Great setup of frets, fretboard, and alignment. Mine had sharp fret ends which the store if fixing tomorrow. The whammy bar hole was also drilled a couple mm off. Both minor issues that are fixable by the shop I bought it at. The nut needs to be sanded to avoid string catching as well. All quickly fixable issues.
Features — 10
Pros: Fantastic value from Fender. Gold plated hardware, beautiful ash body, Vintage noiseless pickups (same pickups used in the Signature Eric Clapton Strat), 7 position pickup switching (including tele-style neck/bridge or all 3 pups on), plays like a dream with classic Strat tones and excellent sensitivity to player's touch. Mine has a one piece ash body with crimson translucent finish - amazing ash wood patterns! Beautiful neck with no individual frets buzzing and no neck warp at all.