Price paid: $ 350
Purchased from: Guitar Works
Sound — 9
I play a lot of classic rock, some older metal, blues, and blues-rock. The Strat handles them all like a champ. I'm using it through a Palomino V3212 (the 2X12 version, American made). Sometimes I'll run a Boss Metalzone in front of the Strat (just for fun despite the battery vamperisim, it's always fun to fuzz up your gain), but that's pretty rare. And, to the question of is it noisy come on guys. It's a Strat. It always will have that hum that we know (well, unless you switch your pups with noiseless ones). On mine, though, the two "humbucker" settings (bridge/middle and Neck/Middle) seem to get rid of it. And again, it's a strat. It'll handle pretty much any type of genre you throw at it (even "teh br00talz" if you switch to stacked humbuckers or even dremmel your pickguard to accept a humbucker).
Overall Impression — 9
I love my Strat. I've played (not owned, mind you) Gibsons, Jacksons, PRS', Epiphones, Ibanezes, Deans, and Gretschs. I have been playing about 8 years, and I own a Fernandes acoustic, Palomino V3212, and as I mentioned earlier, a Metalzone. I honestly have to say, I would take my Strat over most any guitar in the modern lineups. It matches what I play perfectly. If it were ever stolen, I would have to break down and cry. Then I would immediately Rush out and buy another one. The only thing better than a Standard Strat is the American equivalent. My favortie feature would have to be it's versatility and it's durability. This thing could make it through a war. The only problem I have with it? String trees (I prefer staggered tuners).
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's a Strat. If you really want a testament to it's durability, watch Stevie Ray Vaughan play "Third Stone from the Sun" off of the Live at El Mocambo dvd. It's rock solid. I would take this guitar across the world with me, and put money on it coming out smiling. The strap pins are solid, the finish is extremely durable. I kind of wish it was a little thinner, as I like the "arm wear" look. The only problem I had with it was a loose pickup selector (but it took a fall on a hardwood floor to do even that; my sister knocked it over). I would take this anywhere without a backup.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
My Strat came excellently set up. No buzzing, no nothing. The pickups were spot on, and everything was military-clean. The trem cavity had some paint flakes and a small amount of wood dust, but it was so miniscule it's almost not worth mentioning. The only real problem I had was getting my Strat set up for heavier strings. I had gotten it set up for 11's, but I reset it back to the stock gauge of 9. Overall, it was excellent.
Features — 9
I own a 2004 Standard (Mexico made) Stratocaster. It has a 21 fret maple neck (really fast for a Strat neck), solid top, and patrol car black finish. It's got a synched trem, Standard Fender equipment. I mean, it's a Strat. 3 single coil pickups, 5-way selector, master volume, tone knobs for the neck and middle pickups. Nonlocking tuners, came with a gig bag. Overall, it's not like you're getting anything special. It's the Standard Strat we've all come to know and love (or hate. Depending on which side of the debate you're on). It lasts forever, and the parts on it will never let you down.