Purchased from: Dawsons Music
Features — 8
After months of deliberating and staring at the Dawson's website I finally caved a bought a Fender Strat. This was mostly a case of me convincing myself that my primary guitar needed a back-up but lets face it, GAS (guitar acquisition syndrome) is a real thing.
It's a standard SSS pickup configuration with a 5 way selector, two tone knobs and a volume nob. It has the standard Fender tremolo system and Fender tuners. It has a lovely maple neck with a glossed front and a satin back which kind of ticks all the boxes in terms of playability and aesthetics.
After a lot of deliberation I realized that I couldn't justify spending the extra money on an American made Strat, a difference which does make a difference to me. Still I bit the bullet and don't regret it one bit!
Sound — 8
We play heavy rock with progressive and occasional metal tendencies. My primary guitar is a Gibson SG 2016 1960s Tribute model which has a great fat sound for riffing. I was initially worried that the SSS Strat would struggle in replicating this sound and you'd be right but that doesn't necessarily mean its a bad thing. A Fender Stratocaster guitar, especially with stock pick-ups, has a unique sound of its own and needs to be turned to what it does naturally. The single coils break-up a lot easier than humbuckers when driven so you can get a great fuzzy tone and the five-way pickup selector means that you really do have a great deal of variety in tones you can go to. Sure, you might not get that traditional tight, distorted sound that you can get with a pair of EMG 81's but people don't tend to buy Fenders for that sound.
Clean wise this guitar really shines and a quick flick to the neck pick up can produce gorgeous, bassy tones. Play around with the tone nob some more and you will be hitting your audio g-spot.
I run this guitar, as well as my Gibson SG, through a Marshall DSL100H Head and a Marshall 1960B 412 cab. After a long time trying I've managed to find a good EQ setting that works with both the Gibson and the Fender e.g. Bass at noon, Mid at 3 o' clock, Treble at noon with the gain fairly low at about 11 o'clock.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
No complaints at all here. The finish is immaculate on the guitar body and the neck is a joy to play with its satin back. Colour wise its a gloss candy apple red, which is actually a bit more sparkly than I initially expected. I was initially disappointed but it has really grown on me over time and its a really striking look with the glossed maple neck. It looks like a piece of true Americana!
Set-up wise it's probably one of the nicest guitars I've played with an unbound neck although I initially struggled with intonation on the G string when I dropped the guitar to D-standard. After a lot of discussion, our band decided to raise our tuning back to E-standard so this is no longer a problem.
Reliability & Durability — 10
A Fender is as a Fender does. Famous for their ability to withstand punishment, unless perhaps in the hands of one Mr. Blackmore, I would have no hesitation at all in gigging with this guitar.
I'm actually enjoying watching my guitars build up a patina of age so the idea of it degrading physically is actually somewhat attractive to me. Still though, with the finish as thick and as well applied as it is I think it will be some time before it starts to show any signs of worsening.
The only part of the guitar which gives me any worry is the tremolo. I've never owned a tremolo before and I keep having daytime nightmares about me bending to hard and snapping the bridge clean off the guitar. After experimenting with the tremolo some however, it seems that it is very sturdily applied to the body!
Overall Impression — 8
Generally I've been very impressed with this guitar. I bought it as a back-up and I've probably ended up playing it as much as my Gibson. Initially I was kind of captivated by the juxtaposition of playing super heavy riffs with a guitar that was widely regarded as unsuited to it. After a month or so of playing it I do agree that it lacks a bit of punch when playing the heavier riffs but that's do be expected. My band at its heaviest sounds very Sleep inspired and Matt Pike is notorious for his Les Paul and Amp configuration.
Still, different tricks for different moods. This guitar is a joy to play, sounds great and is sturdy as hell. Happy I bought it.