Price paid: A$ 600
Purchased from: ebay
Features — 8
Made in 1988 made in Japan.
- 24 frets 25" scale jumbo frets 17'' radius
- maple neck,maple fretboard,
- basswood body
- Bridge DiMarzio Custom 3 (Modern analogue - Super 3) Neck and Middle - standard Fender, coil splitter switch
- Humbucker in bridge and middle single coil and neck single coil
- 5-way slector switch
- gotoh machine heads,
- khaler locking nut, Khaler Spyder tremolo
- black finish
- 1 volume 2 tones knobs
- passive electronics
- superstrat body style
- jack in body/ side like a lot of guitars. I got this with a really nice hardcase and a bunch of accessories like slides picks gorilla snot, a really cool yin yang strap.
Sound — 8
I mainly play shred neoclassical and it suits it perfectly. Really nice thin neck and easy access to upper frets. Carvin XB 212 active circuitry valve amp no effects. The HM Strat delivers a nice warmish full sound with a little brightness. There is huge variety of sounds the humbucker is a pretty full deep sound that keeps the lower chords rich and full and the shredding on the high frets screaming out. The single coils are very Blackmore sounding and that typical Fender twangy sound that I am not overly fond of but they are great to give a contrast for quieter passages in music before you kick off into shred land.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I got this second hand so it was set up really well. The action is nice and low and the strings sit a nice even distance off the fretboard. I always tend to tweak my pickup height but this was close to how I have it which is close to the strings which I know can be detrimental to sound but is just a personal taste. The Khaler Spyder trem is a bit of a unique beast and I had to research a few things before adjusting it to how I like it. It has a wedge shape and there are pages on line that deal with setting it up so it rocks nicely like a Floyd. I was not alone in needing some knowledge on it as some people set it too flat so you cannot pull back but rest assured you can with the Spyder. It stays in tune really well and I give all my tremolos quite a workout been a old school Ritchie Blackmore fan.
The HM Strat was endorsed by Greg Howe and it was my main reason on buying one. I absolutely loved it when I got it. There are thinner necks out there but this one has a great feel to it and as a friend said can make you dig in more with your playing. I tend to have a light touch with playing and can duplicate a lot of Greg Howe music. So it is great for neoclassical playing or even old school classic rock like Deep Purple. Ethan Brosh also speaks highly of them and uses them in some videos.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I don't play live that much if at all lately. However Greg Howe used HM Strats exclusively for years in the studio and live. Considering this is 27 years old and all the parts are original I can say the hardware is all as good as when it was made. Strap locks are original and solid as can be. I would use it without hesitation. I play it for hours on end and it never falters. Sometimes the pickup selector is a little scratchy when changing positions but that would be case of general maintenance that any guitar needs. The pint work on mine which is black still looks amazing and scratches barely show up on it at all.
Overall Impression — 9
Other gear that I own: Jackson PC3, Charvel 650XL, Jackson JDR 94, Jackson DK2, Charvel Model 4, Kramer Focus 6000, Godin G4000, Peavey Tracer, Fender Talon Heartfield. I have no regrets on buying this HM Strat and it will always be in my top 3 guitars I go to. I would try desperately hard to replace this and I know they can be real hard to find at times. I thought I was real lucky to score one locally in Australia. The neck is a feature a lot of HM Strat owners like the most I saw one comparison to a Ibanez Wizard II which I have never tried. The neck is thinner than most Fenders out there unless it is a shred Fender which they did not make a whole lot of in regard to a thinner neck. I have a Talon which is very close to an Ibanez and I would say the neck on that is thinner and wider than the HM Strat.
There isn't a lot I hate about this guitar. The weight is nice and it is really comfortable to play. I personally prefer humbuckers in the neck position and it is one thing I would prefer it to have. I would put is on par to my Yamaha RGZ and my Jackson PC3 for feel although I would put my PC3 ahead of the HM Strat by a point or two because the neck on my PC3 feels even better than this neck if that were possible. Of course it is all down to personal preference but on the whole I would say it would be hard to find many bad reviews of a HM Strat, the build quality is quite superb.