Price paid: £ 339
Purchased from: www.gak.co.uk
Sound — 9
Well I play a lot of different types of music ranging from Indie music such as the Libertines, Radiohead and Bloc Party through to heavier stuff like Boxcar Racer and Foo Fighters and pop punky stuff like Weezer, Paramore and Blink-182. The guitar has a fairly large variety of tonal varieties and is good for both cleans and dirty sounds. However, I HAD TO CHANGE the humbucker pick up since when played through a high quality amp it sounds terrible!!! I changed it to a Seymour Duncan SH4 JB and this guitar now sounds unreal when played through this pick up. It sounds more like a high end American made Fender than a cheap Mexican one with poor pick ups. I run it through an Orange Thunder Head and Orange Cab along with a lot of pedals but when plugged straight into the head is good for overdriven sounds and clean twangy playing.
Overall Impression — 7
For the style of music I play, this guitar is pretty good. I have been playing for around five years now and this is my favourite electric guitar I own and have played (I haven't played a huge amount of rare vintages). If this guitar were stolen, I'd be annoyed at losing primarily the Seymour Duncan pick up and would buy either a better quality Strat or a Telecaster (serious GAS for one of those right now!!!). I wouldn't buy the same, stock issue Mexican made Fender HSS Stratocaster. However, for when I got this guitar almost four years ago it was perfect for me. If the hardware and quality were better to go with the improved tone it has since changing the bridge pick up, it would be a very good guitar as of now. I will base my overall impression score of how it was when it was in it's stock configuration and that would be a seven.
Reliability & Durability — 6
The guitar has and will withstand live playing. However, I would definitely gig with a back up as the aforementioned input jack causes a fair few problems. I do however prefer this guitar to my Gibson. The paint job is of a high quality if not a particularly interesting dark blue colour.
Action, Fit & Finish — 4
The set up was very very poor. There was a lot of fret buzz due to a poor action and the gutiar would go out of tune a lot when the strings were bended. Having had a guitar tech sort it out, since I don't really know what I'm doing it now plays a lot better, nicer in fact than my Gibson Les Paul JR. However, the input jack gives me a lot of grief, it frequently needs repairing and often disconnects whilst playing. Everything else, the paint finish, tuning pegs etc seems nice and having been set up properly, plays nice. However, the out of the box condition was poor.
Features — 7
I have a 2006 Mexican made, 60th anniversary, Fender HSS Stratocaster. It has all the regular features you'd expect with this guitar; a rosewood neck, 21 frets, stock pick ups (one being a humbucker), volume and tone knobs, a 5 way pick up switch, Fender/Ping standard tuning peg and some cheap slightly padded Fender case, supposedly a deluxe but I wouldn't call it that. Having had this guitar for a while I swapped the bridge humbucker to a Seymour Duncan SH4 JB. I also fitted in some Schaller strap locks since my strap would always fall off and I prefer the extra security.