Price paid: $ 383.15
Purchased from: Guitar Works
Sound — 10
I play mainly punk and pop-punk music and the humbucker pickup really gets the job done for that. The single coils also work well for classic rock and blues. I think the pickups sound just as good as the ones on the American HSS, although a bit hotter. I use a little 15 watt practice amp, and this guitar still sounds awesome! As I said before, the controls don't make any noise at all. The neck pickup has a very warm sound (for a single coil). The middle pickup is bright, but not too bright. The humbucker doesn't sound too bad clean, but it really sings distorted. Over all, a wide variety of sounds can be made.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is awesome for punk music and pop-punk music. It's also great for modern rock, classic rock, and electric blues. I've been playing for about 4 years, and despite the fact that my previous guitar is a Squier Bullet, I know how a good guitar plays and feels. I think this one feels and sounds better then my Dad's '77 Stratocaster. My favorite feature is the humbucker. It really sounds great with distortion; it makes a thick, heavy sound. Despite the poor factory setup, the only thing I don't like about it is that tremolo cover is solid (1 ply) white, but the pickguard is 3 ply (W/B/W). Not that it makes too much of a difference anyways, Who really looks at the tremolo cover? If this guitar was stolen or lost, I would definately buy it again if I had the money. It's not like I have a ton of cash though, I'm only 14 years old and don't have a job. I would totally do everything I could to get it back though. This guitar deserves a 9/10. If it wasn't for the poor setup, it would get a 10. This is a great guitar for the money. You may have better luck with the setup. And even if you don't remember that it's all fixable with the tools that come with the guitar and a phillips screwdriver. Buy it!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is solid as a rock. The hardware definately looks like it will last (although I don't think using stainless steel strings on the Vintage saddles are a good idea). The strap buttons looked solid, but I imediately replaced them with Schaller strap locks so I don't know for sure. By the way, for anyone Who plans on putting Schaller strap locks on this guitar, the screws that came on the guitar will work with the strap locks, so you won't need to drill or plug the strap button holes. I would totally use this guitar for a gig without a backup, it's that strong. The finish looks thick enough that it won't wear off, but it's not so thick that it prevents the wood from creating nice tone. Over all, the durability is awesome. The only bad thing are the strings. They're pretty wimpy, like 9's or something. That's ok, I plan on changing them with a heavier gauge soon. These ones look like they'll break soon with some hard playing.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Honestly, the factory setup was pretty bad, but it wasn't anything that couldn't be fixed with a few tools. The truss rod needed to be adjusted to get rid of fret buzz, and the saddles needed to be raised a bit. Luckily the guitar came with the tools to make these adjustments. The pickups needed to be raised slightly, but they still sounded ok at the factory height. The neck itself has no flaws whatsoever, but the frets sticked out and made it hard to play. The guitar store offered to file them down though, and it plays great now. Intonation was setup fine except for the high E string, which needed just a small turn to get perfect. The body also has no obvious flaws, but the tremolo routing is slightly too big at one corner where the hole for the tremolo arm is. Not too noticable unless you look carefully. The screws for the pickup selector Switch were loose and needed to be tightened, and one of the screws for the tremolo cavity cover was half-way out! Not too big of a deal to tighten, it was just kind of annoying. None of the hardware is rusted or anything, and the tuners were tightly secured to the headstock. The neck wood has a straight grain, so it leads me to believe that it is high quality wood. The nut was cut perfectly. There were no flaws in the finish on the neck or body. Nothing here that couldn't be fixed (except for the tremolo route, but it doesn't bother me), but I expect better from a company like Fender.
Features — 9
This guitar is a 2006 model made in Mexico. The neck has 21 medium-jumbo frets, and is a one-piece maple neck with walnut skunk stripe down the back. The body is alder, and is finished in Arctic white. Very cool looking. There is a Vintage syncronized tremolo with stamped saddles. I might upgrade the saddles to something heavier for better sustain. The electronics are passive, so they don't need batteries. Like most Strats, you get the Standard Volume/Tone/Tone controls, as well as a 5-way selector Switch. None of the controls are noisy, and they feel solid. Because this is an HSS Strat, the bridge pickup is a humbucker. The pickups are machine-wound by Fender in Mexico I believe. The tuners are Fender/Ping Standard tuners, and stay in tune very well, even when dive-bombing. The guitar came with a durable Fender Standard gig-bag, tremolo arm, manual, Fender bumper sticker, warranty card, registration card, and two hex wrenches for adjusting the truss rod and saddle height. The only reason this didn't get a 10 is because of the cheap saddles, however that doesn't mean the sustain is bad. It just could be better.