Price paid: € 832
Purchased from: Casa Farràs, Terrassa, Catalonia
Sound — 8
Acoustically it sounds wonderful, so much that sometimes I play it unplugged just for myself. The electronics temper this impression a little bit. They are not at all bad, but when compared with my American Series Stratocaster I hear the difference. The bridge pickup is the best-sounding of the pack, and it has some Rickenbacker flavor (without sounding so good as a Rick, of course, but it is a good sound, especially when you record it DI through a mixing desk). The other pickups tend to sound a little boomy, although they can be useful in a concert situation, where the Vintage controls (no tone control for the bridge pickup) can be a bit limiting. What you find is a Stratocaster with 12 strings, and you have to think about it along these lines. Some of the softer sounds of a Rick are not replicable with this Strat, and otherwise there are the classic "in between sounds" of a Strat that will not be present in a Rick. So they are very much different beasts. One inconvenient of the 12 strings in a Strat is that differences in sound between selector positions are masked, with bridge pickup being the only "different" flavor. That doesn't mean that this instrument is bad, I have recorded and gigged with it for six years and it has served me well during this time, but other owners may have tried installing aftermarket pickups in some instances.
Overall Impression — 8
I am a medium-level player, and my style of playing is influenced by my own sound as a composer (I combine classical music with psychedelia, experimental pop and even a bit of country, which results in a very personal sound). My other good guitars are an American Series Fender Stratocaster, a Rickenbacker 330/12 and a Gibson Les Paul Studio, and my concert amplifier is a Fender Frontman 212R (which sounds pretty decent, given that it is a solid-state, entry level combo; I plan to buy a tube amplifier someday). The point about this guitar is: it has been out of production since 2009, and it seems to have been made in relatively small numbers during its production period, which seems to make it somewhat collectible, more for its rarity and outright weirdness than for its sound. But I plan to keep it, and use it as a different flavor to contrast with my 12-string Rick. That said, it costed, new, less than half of what a Rickenbacker would have costed even then, and the difference in quality is perceptible, if not dramatic. And the reason I bought it in the first place was that people at the shop told me then that it was next to impossible to import a Rick to Terrassa and that it would be prohibitively costly anyway, and that in desperation I surfed the web in search of an alternative, discovering this model by chance. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 9
The best part of all is that six years after I bought it, this guitar remains in mint condition. Four years ago I had the truss rod readjusted because of a slightly concave neck, but that's the only incidence in all this time. I expect this guitar to outlive me. And yes, as I've said, I've recorded and gigged with it for years, with no major problems. The strap buttons are solid, as is the hardware. A curio, common to all Japanese Strats, is that the volume and tone knobs are made to seem vintage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Action was well set-up from the factory, and all what was needed was to tune the strings to concert pitch. The guitar is sturdy, and the finish is durable (and good looking). The neck is very comfortable to play, so much that the first year of having the guitar I picked it up and played it simply to feel that neck. The long scale of the neck means also that the guitar is very easy to play, specially first-position chords. The pickups were set high from the factory, which means it has a higher output than normal (in fact, it manages to "hide" my normal six-string Strat when connected to the same amp during a jam).
Features — 8
12-string 2005 CIJ Strat XII in Lake Placid Blue with three Vintage Style Single-Coil Pickups, five-position selector, one volume control, two tone controls for the middle and neck pickups, six-saddle hard-tail bridge, normal-scale neck with 21 saddles, and recessed jack socket. About the bridge, it is worth noting that it has six saddles instead that the twelve ones which it was said to feature when in production (2005-2009). The confusion may have originated in a first run of Strat XIIs made between 1985 and 1996 that were equipped with a twelve saddle bridge and a short-scale neck with 22 frets. The guitar that I own has a special type of saddles designed to allow six of the strings be strung through the body while the other six are strung from the front. The guitar came in a cardboard box, without a case. Fortunately, I had a hardshell case available at home.