Features — 10
- Year of Manufacture: 2011
- Body: Alder
- Body Shape: Mustang
- Finish Colour: Candy Apple Red
- Body Finish: Polyester
- Neck Shape: '60s "C" Shape
- Number of Frets: 22
- Fret Size: Medium Jumbo
- Position Inlays: Vintage Cream
- Fretboard Radius: 9.5" (24.1cm)
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Neck Material: Maple
- Nut Width: 1.650” (42mm)
- Scale Length: 24" (61cm)
- Neck Plate: Four-bolt
- Truss Rods: Standard Truss Rod
- Truss Rod Nut: 3/16" Hex Adjustment Electronics
- Pickup Configuration: H/H
- Bridge Pickup: Enforcer "Wide Range" Humbucking Bridge Pickup with downsized Wide Range covers
- Neck Pickup: Enforcer "Wide Range" Humbucking Neck Pickup with downsized Wide Range covers
- Pickup Switching: 3-Position
- Toggle: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Middle Pickup, Position 3. Neck Pickup
- Special Electronics: Coil Selector Switch for Each Humbucker
- Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone; Pickup Toggle Switch; Coil Selector Switch for Each Humbucker
- Hardware: Chrome
- Bridge: '70s-Style Hard-Tail Stratocaster Bridge
- String Nut: Synthetic Bone.
Sound — 10
This puppy can do it all... Whether it's clean & soft, crunchy & rock or down-tuned & heavy, the versatility provided by the pickups and the pickup configuration allows you to cover nearly styles. At present I'm using 0.11 D'Addario strings in standard E tuning and it just sounds glorious. However, in the past, I've also tried 0.9 strings, 0.10 strings and even 0.12 strings on it, but I think 0.11 provides the prefect tension with the short scale neck.
The Enforcer humbuckers are excellent pickups and sound great when played clean or with a bit of mild crunch. You really get that classic fender sound. However, when you turn up the gain or tap that distortion pedal, these pick-ups turn your guitar in to a savage monster, capable of grunge, down-tuned stoner/sludge and even death metal... I know this because I had it down-tuned to standard c# for about a year and used it to play sludge, metalcore and death metal stuff. It wasn't until I bought my 7-string Ibanez Iron Label, that I tuned her back to standard E and began using this guitar for Foo Fighters style rock stuff again.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I pre-ordered this guitar and I believe it was one of the first shipped to the UK. Despite being made in Japan, with it's reputation for having the highest standards of quality-control in the world of guitars, I actually found quite a few faults with this, when I received it.
The first thing I noticed is that it didn't come with the Mustang volume/tone knobs, like it was supposed to. It came with the strat style numbered knobs... Not a problem, I thought, I'll just change them. That's when I discovered that the knobs were glued on and not even the guitar technician, who does all my set-ups, could remove them with his removal tool. They must have used f--king concrete! Anyway, it's not a huge issue and I actually like having the numbers as a guide.
The second thing that I noticed was the metal plate, located at the jack area, was not placed so that it was flush with the pick-guard. They miscalculated one of the screw-holes, meaning there was a gap between the plate and guard. The guitar tech who did my set up, amended it so it fits much better... Not perfect but you have to look closely to see the flaw.
The guitar tech also replaced the jack, saying that he finds all Japanese fenders use really cheap jacks, and that he doesn't understand why because a decent jack does not cost a lot of money at all. Seems like a pretty silly thing to cut corners on. The metal circles at the back of the guitar (don't know what they call those things), where you string through the body, were not glued in. So when you removed the strings, they'd fall out. not a big deal but did Fender's Japanese factory run out of glue or did they use it all up on the volume/tone knobs? That was another thing the guitar tech sorted.
Soooo... In short, this guitar was not set-up to the kind of standards I would expect from Japan. I can only assume that, as one of the first models built, the factory might have had teething problems with the manufacture of these guitars, at the beginning of their run.
Despite the above, after paying £70 for a professional set up, which ironed-out the flaws, it now plays like a dream. To be honest, even if there wasn't any noticeable issues, I would have taken it for a set-up anyway, like I do with all my guitars.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Although I have not played it regularly live, I did play it nearly every day for about a year, in my home, and it's very durable indeed. Like I mentioned before, I've used about every tuning and string gauge there is and it's never given the impression that it couldn't take the punishment of brutal heavy playing styles either. Before owning this guitar, I didn't really like red finishes... Now I love it. It's definitely got that alternative rock/grunge look and I like that it's pretty appearance hides it brutal mean streak. You wouldn't look at this guitar and think it was capable of such ferocity.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is a great little guitar and I'll never sell it. It's able to provide such a huge range of tones through it's unique pickup selector, while also providing massive versatility between musical styles, make it a solid all-rounder. Although a set-up is likely to be needed, I've seen these Japanese models listed on places like eBay, used, for around £400-£450. Do yourself a favour and buy one. Alternatively, you can by the made in Mexico, 3 colour sunburst model, brand new for about £680.