Price paid: A$ 269
Purchased from: Turramurra Music
Sound — 10
My style is mainly heavy and aggressive ranging from punk like Blink 182 to Extreme Metal. However, I try a bit of blues, soft rock and Acoustic style chord strumming on clean and basic overdrive, every now and then. Although the Strat has three single coil pickups, the bridge pickup holds up quite well for Black Metal (Unblack Metal for me cos I'm Christian). It's got this mean twang and that's probably because it's an angled pickup. I play the Strat through a Roland Cube 15 watt, which has inbuilt Boss effects. I usually put the amp on Metal Distortion and the Strat sounds AMAZING. There is some ridiculously loud feedback when I put the gain really high but I actually like that. On drop tuning, the Strat is suited for Death Metal and even Doom Metal if the neck pickup is active with the middle pickup. It is probably the most powerful single-coil pickup (the neck pu). On the clean channel, the Strat is beautiful, with a very bright sound. It's definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing and you can pull off any genre on this guitar, as long as you have a good amp and some effects.
Overall Impression — 10
Funny thing is, even though the classic Strat is not a metal guitar, it does wonders when played through the Roland Cube. It growls when put through high gain and metal distortion and chirps like a little canary on the clean channel. Does almost everything in between, mind you. I have been playing a little over two years and only have one other guitar, an Ashton classical acoustic. If it got stolen or lost, I would definitely buy a new one, as the strat- with five way pickup Switch gives you so many sound possibilities. And add to that the settings on the Roland Cube amp! (I strongly recommend the Roland Cube 15 watt if you want a compact amp ideal for metal and hardcore etc). I compared this guitar to the Epiphone SG, Yamaha Pacifica and Les Paul Special 2 and chose the Strat over the others cos the entry-level humbuckers are so muddy when you distort the sound a lot. True, the others have more conventional grunt, but their tone is inferior in my opinion. I also like the whammy bar, which gives you even more sound possibilities. Maybe one thing I wish it had was 24 frets! Most metal-heads would like at least one humbucker in a guitar and would think that I'm insane using a Strat for metal. But, mind you Yngwie Malmsteen, arguably the best metal guitarist uses a Strat.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I think this guitar will be fine with live playing. My guitar teacher and family friend is a master jazz guitarist and he played my strat. It sounded almost as good as an American Standard Strat! The hardware is fine and I think the guitar will last at least 5 years more without any problems. The strap buttons are definitely solid, but if I were to perform in a live hardcore gig I would secure the strap firmly with duct tape, cos I like to jump around heaps :). I can depend on this guitar and would not use a backup. I would just carry strings around in case there was a breakage. The finish is excellent, and probably was applied subject to strict Fender guidelines!
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Action is beautiful and the pickups have not given any trouble. The jack for the amp wire came a little loose, but I tightened it a bit. Probably the only fault, but it hasn't affected my playing. The neck is fast and suitable for metal. The finish is pretty good, almost like a mexican Standard strat.
Features — 9
My guitar is a 2007 model made in Indonesia. It has 21 jumbo sized frets and set on a rosewood neck. The body is a beautiful Agathis, but covered with a black satin finish. The bridge is a Fender Vintage Tremolo bridge, with a whammy bar supplied. It has a 5 way selector switch, 1 volume knob, 2 tone knobs. Most features are like any other more expensive Strat model. Sadly, Squier didn't supply any freebies like a gig bag, pick or guitar cloth. I had to pay extra at the music store for these things.