Price paid: £ 410
Purchased from: Reidys, Blackburn
Sound — 10
I play all sorts of music, but my favourites are reggae, ska, punk, rock and blues; this guitar handles them all with no problem at all. The Bridge pickup really shines when distorted, and even clean it sounds great. That said, the sound I adore the most is from the neck pickup. I'm using it through a Behringer X V-AMP, a cheap multi FX unit, and yet it sounds incredible. With the aforementioned pickup I can get nice mellow tones which really ring through the pedal. The middle pickup also gives a sound which I love for playing grunge; the possibilities are endless. The guitar itself is not noisy at all, but the pedal sometimes is. In general, the tone is just incredible.
Overall Impression — 10
Best purchase I've ever made! As I've already said I play all sorts of styles (in terms of artists, think Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, John Mayer etc.) and this is the best match for all of them. I have been playing for 5 years and own a Squier Strat, which is nowhere near as good as this, 2 acoustics (a Yamaha and Epiphone), a Behringer X V-AMP and various stompboxes. I did also own an Epiphone Les Paul Special II. If it was stolen I would bawl like a baby/knock out the guy who took it and buy a new one. I love the playability and tone, and hate nothing about it! I hope you don't think I'm being nave but I can't find anything to hate! I also tried the slightly cheaper Mexican Standard Strats (e.g. the ones in Arctic White, Lake Placid Blue etc.) which played nicely, but for some reason were heavier; I was expecting to pay a bit more just for the colour, and yet mine is lighter and plays better! I also played some lovely telecasters, but at the end of the day the tone was not for me. When I die, I want to be buried with it!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I doubt that this guitar wouldn't be able to withstand live playing; the hardware seems very durable. Concerning the strap buttons, I actually have some strap locks which are still attached to its Squier sibling; since the buttons on the Fender are big enough, I haven't been bothered to swap them! I'll do so if I'm going to play live just for added security. I'm sure the finish will last; if it did on my Squier that I've had for 4.5 years then I'm sure it will last on my Fender.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The out-of-the-box set-up was actually very good; the action was low and felt so wonderful to play. The intonation was a bit off, but I fixed that easily thanks to the well-constructed bridge. The pickups gave an even output overall so I felt no need to adjust them. The only other issue was that the tuning pegs were quite loose, but again this was easily resolved.
Features — 10
My Stratocaster is Mexican-made and was built in 2010. It has a medium maple neck with 21 medium-jumbo frets on a rosewood fretboard. The body is made of alder and has a sunburst finish. The Bridge is a vintage-style synchronised tremolo; personally I don't use tremolo but nevertheless it feels nice to use. Controls consist of a volume knob, 2 tone knobs and a 5-way selector Switch to choose between 3 Fender-standard single coil pickups. The tuners are Fender Standard sealed tuning machines; very effective. I was given a Fender gig bag and the shop threw in a strap and some Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings.