Sound — 10
Excellent tone from all 5 switch positions, just a little high output at the 12th fret, E string on the neck Pup position 1. I PLAY Aussie rock and some blues stuff as well as just jamming around buzzing with the tremolo. Only minor problem which will be fixed when I address the trem set up is that I tuned it to Open E and that put a spanner in the works with the trem rising too high from the body. And the stock std Fender strings which I will replace with D'Addario 9-42s next week. With the current trem in action, this bad boy goes out of tune quickly at this time Guitar generates wonderful Strat sounds and running it through the little Mustang II digital amp I can simulate all sorts of 50s, 60s - 90s sounds and I get an awesome psychedelic tone in position 1 at the bridge Pup with the Mustang II on the last setting with mod and using a DS-1 Boss pedal. Brilliant stuff This MIM Strat also seems to have a richer bass tone than the MIA and even SRV models I tried out at my local Sam Ash store. Maybe a fluke of the particular guitar but I love the sound. I would like to buy from a real retailer but the extra prices and TAX in NY make it impossible for them to compete with Musicians Friend. So much for retail in NY city.
Overall Impression — 9
Love it for my stuff and with all of the Tab stuff on the web these days it is a vreeze learning again as I stopped playing 20 odd years back even though I have an old 1986 Squier (S Vin) Strat Jap made and a MIA late 90s. I think for $500 odd now this is a bargain and compared to say the Studio Gibsons at $900+ and other ESG's etc this is a steal. Easy to play, fast, great tone. Outstanding quality and once I pull my finger out and set her right it will be GREAT. I tried many Fenders from $900 to $2500 (MIA, SRV, Clapton etc) and tried out Gibsons from $850 (Studio) to the $2500 AND UP Les Paul Stds but apart from the 70s Tribute Gibson ($1150) and SRV Strat $1900, this was as good as anything and a minimum of 1/2 the price. I would add the finish on the expensive Gibsons was of old Rolls Royce quality but their cheaper line had a lot of finish problems. Fret buzz, neck pores etc. At the time I bought this I was low on funds and almost certainly would have paid the extra $550 for the MIA Standard Strat (it is an ego thing and a support USA employment thing) but I am now glad after trying many more MIA's at mate's gigs and stores that I restarted playing with this. I also own a new 300 CE Fender T-Bucket Electric-acoustic (Chinese made) which looks great and plays well for practice. I would rate 92/100 on quality and 95/100 for overall value.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Already dropped it. No problem as I am rough with things but this bad boy is solid. Strap buttons hold my crappy nylon strap in place really well. I just play at home but transport the thing between NY city and my home in Southampton. No problems so far. The hardware is tough, even the tone knobs which are hard plastic not the aged stuff used on the MIA Strats look and operate perfectly even though I got some of that god-awful plastic stuck under one of them in unpacking and set up. The stain back to the neck is great. Feels perfect. I would use this anywhere anytime with pride.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Action is great, not perfect yet as I have a minor set up I need to do but I think from the factory it was fine until I effed around with the tremolo... The frets are perfect... Really nice (maybe Gibson could learn something from the Mexican Fender techs on that point). The wood is immaculate. I have only one minor high output flaw as stated before at the neck Pup on 6 E string. Weird cause it is really HOT at that point (maybe POT winding). The Pups are much better than on my old '86 Squier (with American Std parts) and I understand the new 2012 MIMs are better than previous models. I don't get some negative reviews I have seen on the web where everyone wants to pay another $150 for other Pups (just buy the Tex Mex set up I say then).
Features — 9
2012 MIM Standard Stratocaster, Arctic White, Gloss Maple Fretboard. 21 Frets medium-jumbo. Satin back to neck. The tuners are okay but not as good as the MIAs. The tremolo system is also not as good as the MIA but the body, neck and overall finish are sublime. Seriously, I went over this thing with a fine tooth comb and it is perfect. The glossy fret-board is just outright sexy. I even like the standard Pups on this thing, ceramic but perfectly set up for mind... Features from the website of MF: - Select alder body - Modern, C-shaped gloss maple neck - Maple fret-board - 21 medium jumbo frets - Vintage-style tremolo - Die-cast tuning keys - 3 Standard single-coil pickups with ceramic magnets - Chrome hardware