Price paid: $ 220
Purchased from: My uncle
Sound — 9
I generally play blues and older rock, but I try to play all sorts of genres. I have my HH PRS copy for heavier stuff, but for everything else my Strat has failed to let me down. Each pickup setting sounds how you would think it would(neck; spanking a la SRV. neck-mid; neck, but mellower and without hum. Mid; 70's-ish, think Blackmore, but a bit lower-output. Mid-bridge; The quack everyone Who likes a Strat loves. Bridge; How and twangy), and positions 2 and 4 don't give any hum due to the reverse-wound middle pickup. Just a note though, when I played this thing on a cement floor, even when it was just one coil, I got no hum. It may have been a number of other things, but hey, it's possible. The usual assortment of Strat tones can be expected from this thing. It has a sort-of-full sound, but with less bass and more treble. It can get bright on the bridge, and deep on the neck. It depends on how you play it. It's wonderful for what I need though.
Overall Impression — 9
Being mainly a blues/rock guy, a Strat is basically perfect for my style of playing. I've been playing for five years and have a few other guitars to attest to that, but this is by far my favourite. Plays like a dream, and really the only thing I dislike about it is that I can't play heavier stuff on it. Otherwise I'm happy. If it were stolen I'd track down the bastard and hit HIM over the head until he couldn't remember his name. Or until I felt satisfied. Either way I'd beat HIM bloody. But you get the idea. If your looking for something good for a decent price and don't play a lot of metal, this is definitely what I'd recommend.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've slapped and thrown her around quite a bit, and she still looks great. I'd always take a backup to a gig, just because anything can happen, but I get a feeling except for a metal song or two this thing could play the entire set. The finish seems like it could stop a Bullet, but that's a bit of a downer for me, as I like relic'd and beaten guitars. The strap buttons seem solid, as does the hardware, but I'd probably replace the prior with straplocks just to be safe. And I've played a show with a friends band with it, it can withstand Live playing just fine.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
As I bough it used, I can't rate much on this for how a new one will come, but mine feels wonderful. The neck is fast and smooth with nothing sticking out, the action is nice and low, the frets are easy to get over and bend on, it looks beautiful, and feels wonderful.
Features — 9
2002 SSS MIM Fender Standard Stratocaster. The pots, switches, wiring and such were redone by my Uncle using boutique components(though I think the pickups are still stock), and it has the usual MIM Strat assortment of things; alder body, Polyurethane finish(in a beautiful, and sadly discontinued, Agave Blue), non-locking Fender tuners, 6-point synchronized trem, 21 frets(maple on this one), and a discontinued painted neck, which I prefer. My only complaint is when I set the bridge up to be flat on the body, I had to remove the backplate to restring, but eh, it doesn't change much.