Price paid: $ 430.55
Purchased from: Steve's Music
Sound — 10
I like to play everything: classic rock, modern rock, alternative, punk, maybe a bit of metal, blues. It suits all these styles very well except for the metal. However, my band does not do metal so I don't care. It suits the bluesy tone exceptionally well (obviously since SRV, Jimmie Vaughan, EC, Buddy Guy, John Mayer etc. play(ed) Strats). I've discovered the almost endless possibilities of sound you can obtain by playing around with the tone controls (which is something I never did with my old Strat copy). Right now, I'm playing it through a Boss DS-1 into a Fender Frontman 15R. It sounds really good as it is but soon I will be getting a better, bigger amp. In the store I played it through straight into a Hot Rod Deville and it gave such a beautiful tone. It is quite noisy when you're not splitting the signal between two pickups, but I expected that from single coils. The noise is quite noticeable with distoriton on. It does not bother me because when I am playing, you can't hear the noise (only when I'm not playing). The bridge pickup is the noisiest of three. The noise goes awat when you use two pickups. The guitar can make a lot of sounds it's got a nice bright rich sound but I can also get a warm and rich bluesy tone on the neck pickup or with the bridge and middle pickup (with tone set to 0). It's got nice high ends to cut through the rhythm guitar, which is good because I play mostly lead in my band.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a great match for my styles (see Sound). I have been playing for a bit more than a year and I own a Strat copy (which I bought for 50$ off a friend best deal ever). This guitar kicks the -- out of my old one. Obviously, the whammy bar system is not great. I have not yet decided if I will use it when playing live but I don't think it will cause the guitar to go out of tune if I do use it live. I am not a whammy bar abuser like Eddie Van Halen, I would use it more like guys such as SRV or Eric Johnson. They did not have Floyd Rose bridges so I don't think using the whammy bar (reasonably) will make the guitar go out of tune. I don't really like the shape of the whammy bar, I'd prefer a shorter one with a different curve. I did my research before buying this and I have not been shocked by any of its features, they are good I think that I will probably replace the tuners with locking ones (don't know which brand yet) just as an upgrade. This guitar does not go out of tune very easily, although it has been going sharp a bit with the whammy bar (when I abuse it). This will not be a problem, as I said before, for live playing. Some day, I will upgrade the pickups just to make this an even better instrument. Sometimes I wish I had gotten a Fat Strat to eliminate the noise with the bridge pickup, but I love the single coil sound more. If it were stolen, I am not sure that I would buy it again. Maybe I would go for an American Strat depends on when it were stolen lol. I love this guitar's sound, look and feel. I dislike the noise in the bridge pickup position, but I don't "hate" it. I wish this guitar had more than 21 frets, but it's not a problem. I compared this to Epi Les Pauls and SG. I found that the Les Paul was lacking the tonal versatility that this one has the Strat has nicer high ends. The SG simply does not suit my style, but is a good guitar. I also compared this to a Mexican Tele. Once again, the Tele was not as versatile as this one (IMO). Also, my opinion of Teles was lowered when I played one with an extremely weak and plain tone (I don't know if it was the amp or the guitar). I also compared this to a PRS Santana SE. Once again, great guitar. However, I liked the Strat better. To my ears, it sounds better. It also looks nicer and was less expensive. I wish this guitar had come with 0.10 strings instead of 0.9's. When I restring, I'll probably put 10's and have to adjust the spring claw and intonation. No big problem. I chose this guitar for its sound, versatility, look and also for Fender's reputation of making quality products. I was not disappointed. I love this guitar!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar will withstand live playing and I am looking forward to playing it live. I've had it for three weeks and no problems yet. Fender has pretty good customer support in my experience (they did not charge me to replace a faulty input jack on my 15R). I put strap locks on as soon as I got this because I don't trust factory strap buttons. The finish seems nice and it's beautiful too!
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar was well setup at the factory. The bridge was well routed and at a good height. The action is really nice but I've noticed a bit of buzzing on the D string when it is played unplugged. This is not a factor when the guitar is played through an amp, so it's not a big deal. The sunburst finish makes this one of the most beautiful guitars out there (IMO).
Features — 8
This is a 2003-2004 Standard Strat made in Mexico. I'm not sure if it's made in 2003 or 2004 but my serial number starts with MZ3 so I know it's in that period. 21 Vintage style frets. Maple neck and maple fretboard. Body is alder. Chrome hardware. Sunburst. Vintage synchronized tremolo bridge. Passive electronics (I think). One volume, two tone for neck and middle pickups. Five way Switch. Three standard single coil Strat pickups (ceramic magnets). Fender/Ping Standard cast/sealed tuning machines. Came with a whammy bar.