Price paid: € 598
Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 9
Actually, somewhat earlier in 2010 I wouldn't have considered getting a strat, as I usually play metal and modern rock, so I looked into Gibson and ESP/LTD. Nevertheless, I tried this one and fell in love with it at once. The playability is absolutely terrific and the pickups sounded great as well (I do love my Clapton and SRV from time to time). But as I said, I need some hotter pickups, so I installed a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail with a coil split in the bridge, and now it's the perfect guitar for me. I can play everything I want to, ranging from Clapton and SRV to stuff like Poisonblack and Godsmack, which is about the heaviest tone I go for as a player. Of course, I really tried the stock pickups before I changed the one. The Bridge pickup sounded a little to harsh for my likings, whereas the other two pickups sound great in any combination, very warm and thick. This is the special thing about the Texas Specials, they tend to have this thick, warm and kinda muddy sound, very great for blues and Indie rock. I'm using it with a Fender FM212R, which obviously isn't the greatest amp in the world. I do add some pedals for real distortion, but for bluesy stuff I just dial in the gain at 3 and it's great. I'm in need for a better amp to do this guitar justice though, and I know that. It's just the money, you know? I actually was surprised how quiet it is. I never owned a guitar with single coils before, but the ones I played were quite noisy. This one does produce a little buzzing and humming, but nothing to worry about.
Overall Impression — 8
Playing for 5 years, this is my first quality guitar. I really love it for what I do and would recommend everybody who is searching for an all-in-one device suitable for every purpose to get one (and probably mod it like I did), as it will turn out to be the most versatile thing you'll be able to get. Of course, you have to take it's price into consideration. I'd never prefer this one over a PRS or similar guitars, but for under 600 you get a guitar which is more than worth the money. And be honest, it just looks awesome as well!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I'm convinced that this guitar would survive any concert I'm taking it to. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to actually gig with it, but I did a public live recording with it, which saw some stage action (I even accidentally stepped on it...), and there's not a single ding or flaw. I'd always take a backup, though. The hardware seems to last, altough I'll probably change the strap buttons to security locks once I start gigging again. I don't want my lady to fall on the floor (and some idiot to step on it!).
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up very nicely. I had to adjust the pickups a little, but that's just personal preference, I can't blame anybody for that and I won't, at last it's what those little screws are for. The action is fine, so is the tremolo. I probably will have to adjust it a little, as I usually play with .010s (this comes with .009s). There's only one flaw to complain about: the volume knob. It was a little loose and I had to fix that. It would have bothered me more if this was a MIA Strat, though. Maybe I'm too generous?
Features — 9
This is the MIM Fender Roadhouse Strat, which - according to its serial number - was made in '07 or '08 in Mexico. It features an alder body with a maple neck and fretboard, on which you can find 21 medium jumbo frets. It also features a tortoise shell pickguard, which looks absolutely stunning along with the neck and the black finish. There are two tone knobs, one volume knob and a Fender Vintage Tremolo bridge. The pickups are Texas Special single coils, which are selected by operating a 5-way-switch. As you can see, there's nothing really new in the world of Fender - but never change a winning team, eh? The tuners are myde by Fender themselves, and they do their job great, as the guitar barely goes out of tune (unless you want to imitate good old Dimebag with the tremolo - but you should think twice about that anyway!). In addition to the guitar itself, Fender gives you a gig bag and some tools. The zippers are not of the best quality, as one broke the first time I touched it. The tools seem to be okay though.