Let me begin by saying, as a kid of 11 years of age, I was trained for four years in classical guitar by one of the best. His name was George Yeatman and he was a disciple of Aaron Shearer (The father of modern classical guitar training). I took highly disciplined classical lessons until the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix in the mid ’60’s. Right then and there I decided to set down my 1954 Gibson classical guitar and never touch it again! Although that bit of personal nostalgia is still in my possession.
After many moons of life without the rhythm of a guitar strumming, it was about 3 years ago when I decided to take guitar lessons again with a critically acclaimed guitarist and teacher, Richard Mac. He truly is a world class player and excellent teacher who thinks ‘out of the box’ for playing any genre of music although I am studying the blues. Presently, I’m playing the electric guitar and in the whole scheme of things, I probably not as good as some people say or even my teach Richard Mac, has said I am. I enjoy hearing nice things about my playing like everyone else, but widespread approval is hard to come by in this day and age.
The story about how I came upon my first Stratocaster began when my guitar teacher Richard came across a Black Eric Clapton Artist Series Strat at a pawn shop for a really good price, and for some strange reason, he appeared unusually interested about this particular guitar. Actually I have never seen Richard move that fast again (except for his fingers), I knew what was going to happen. He bought the guitar. Surprise!
So that’s how I came across this great Fender Stratocaster guitar.
Up Close and Personal with my New Fender Stratocaster
My resistance was low and I had to buy a new Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster for myself. I immediately got on the internet and went to www.musiciansfriend.com and bought it from Musicians Friend, which was a great experience. That was my first online guitar purchase and I’ll never waste gas and time again fighting traffic to buy a guitar from a music store. Most local music stores are small and they rarely have what you want anyway! I took advantage of the Musician’s Friend free shipping, the no interest for one year M.F. credit card and the 45 day satisfaction guarantee. It doesn’t get any easier or better than that when you are looking to buy a guitar.
I’ll start with the first thing that struck me, when choosing this beautiful axe. It has the perfect soft “V” shaped solid maple neck that feels like someone made it especially for me, and the V shape is a narrow neck and a bit deeper than the stock neck which makes it a dream to play. It has 22 Vintage Style Frets and a perfect 9.5” Radius (241mm). I can play my weird Jimi Hendrix chords much easier and better on this guitar and by the way I use really light weight DR brand “Pure Blues” Strings. These strings last a really long time, have pure tone and are easy to bend. Fender has several different neck shapes and that is particularly cool of Fender to try to make a guitar neck size that will fit for every shape of hand. For example, Stevie Ray Vaughn ( who had huge hands ) had a special shaped neck called a “Boat Neck” while rocker, Eddie Van Halen, used the “Wolfgang shape” neck. Without a doubt, there is a Strat neck available that can fit your hand. Jimi Hendrix used anything he had at the time, but he was a VoodooChild and had outer space guitar playing ability with perfect freaky and big, long fingers . He was left handed player and he played a right handed guitar upside down. I’ll write more about Jimi Hendrix in future reviews.
The guitar’s body is Alder-wood and that is a relatively light weight wood and has great tonal qualities. It is a mystery to me, but this guitar has a great feeling of balance to it as well. It’s Fender color is Olympic White and it’s a polyurethane paint which means it is durable and will last a long time. In fact I have played this guitar every day for a few hours a day or more and in over two and a half years, there is not a single wear mark on the fret side of the neck. Personally, I like white guitars although I recommend getting the color you like. The head of the guitar or top of the neck where you would tune your guitar has genuine Fender/Gotoh Vintage Style Tuning Machines.
There are 3 knobs as most Strats do. However these are not the regular Strat controls. That’s right, the top one is the same as all Strats and that is a volume control. Although the 2 other tone controls are different, one is a special active 25dB midrange boost tone control to give this guitar the extra “meat” which by the way, is something you might expect from a Humbucker™pickup. In addition, the second tone knob functions as a unique to Fender TBX master tone control, which can smoothly go from bright and glossy to dark and smoky by rolling off the highs! . The name of the TBX tone control comes from the first two letters of “Treble and Bass Cut” with the word “Cut” meaning “X” in Fender-speak). A conventional tone control only cuts the high end of your guitar’s signal. However, the TBX can either cut the high end like a regular tone control or it can cut the bass to bring out more brightness in your tone.
It also has a 5-Position Blade: Position 1. Bridge Pickup Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup Position 3. Middle Pickup Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup Position 5. Neck Pickup
Claptons personal choice for pickups were Vintage Noiseless Pickups (Neck, Middle, Bridge) and I like them too! Fender delivers single coil tone without the hum! Get cutting edge technology without sacrificing that great Fender sound. Special beveled edge Alnico 5 magnets and enamel-coated magnet wire produce the brilliant clarity, definition and harmonic attributes of a vintage Strat in a “Noiseless” package. Each Vintage “Noiseless” Strat pickup comes with 3 pots (potentiometers), a capacitor and resistor to enhance your “Noiseless” experience. (also sold separately as a set of 3, or as each.)
It has a blocked original vintage synchronized tremolo bridge, so you can’t use a whammy bar, and thats really kinda cool because using a whammy bar always throws the guitar out of tune. Clapton did not use a whammy bar, and by blocking it’s action one gets more stable and accurate sound.
Encompassing this axe of glory from place to place is a luxurious tweed guitar case that has a secret compartment built into it for whatever you may need to stash away for a rainy day. I generally use a Fender Ultra Electric Guitar Gig Bag
When it comes to playability nothing comes close to a Fender Strat in terms of being able to play any type of music and sound absolutely great. Eric Clapton is a bonafide living “Guitar God” and when he designed this guitar he took his time and used his favorite components which turned out to be a real score for himself . Once this guitar was manufactured through Fender it became one of the standards that virtually all electric guitars are measured by. It seems that every time I get near it I am compelled to play it. Or else I’m passionately waiting to get home and play it.
The sweet sounds this guitar makes are unreal. It doesn’t matter if you play clean or with distortion every note is right on the money and every tone is pure and clean. The neck is super slick so you can shred if that’s your groove or you can play high energy string bending blues or even do some Travis Picking as well, if that rocks your boat. This is a highly versatile guitar capable of making your sound, genuinely and truly, your unique sound!
I know love is blind, and I look forward playing my guitar all the time. I’m definitely an enthusiast for all things Strat. On an emotional note, this one is my baby and it’s the prettiest axe in the world. This guitar is not what I’d call a cheap guitar, although if you compare it to what a top notch Gibson costs, this guitar is a fantastic deal for the price. Strats sound and play better than a Gibson, which of course is my personal opinion. Fender made electric guitars what they are today.
One more thing, I will be writing articles and comparisons on all-types of Strats and related equipment including gear and effects equipment. If you would like to see a particular article about Strats or any guitar for that matter please make a request on the particular model.
Note: Don’t make a mistake. Buy a primo guitar stand. I had a cheap one break on me once.
I recommend a Hercules Single Guitar Stand with Folding Yoke.