My intentions were simple, it seemed. Go to Guitar Center in Rockville Md. and play a couple of guitars for review purposes. Actually my intent was to play a few brands that I’m not familiar with, ones however you asked me to review. It’s not my first trip to check their axe collection out, if fact, they know me know!
I did that. I strummed for hours and critically evaluated and took notes. I even have pictures to show. As usual I drifted into the Fender Relic and Custom Shop Room. It ‘s like magnetic to me, that is where I always end up. I had a riot playing hi dollar Strats for hours. To be realistic about it, very few of us can afford those axes, however it is not everyday anyone can walk into a guitar store and play one. I ended up playing a lot of notes on a fairly inexpensive ”60′s reverse headstock Stratocaster, one that has interested me for a while, and, you know what I’m going to say next, I went back and bought it. Click to enlarge.
I might add that my man Alex Wohleber is still selling guitars and gear, and Guitar Center is a class act. Most of the business I do with Guitar Center is over the internet. I’m always 110% satisfied. However, if every store was operated in the same manner Guitar Center is, than a lot more stores would be successful.
The Fender ’60s Reverse Headstock Strat Electric Guitar Olympic White was my main target. To simplify the issue, this is a reproduction of the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock. There is no “custom” Jimi Hendrix guitar. Seems Jimi did not care too much about how trick his guitar was, and we all know he played a right handed guitar left handed, and restrung it so the strings were in the same order.
It’s made in Mexico, which means it is the middle line of Fender Guitars. The actual construction is very good. The body is Alder wood and is heavy for a Stratocaster. It has a nicely flamed maple neck V- shape, very similar to my Clapton Custom Shop ( not exactly the same mind you), which is perfect for me. The finish is typical Fender, excellent no run, quality paint job. Vintage tuners, which come on the American Stratocasters as well as a vintage synchronized tremolo were a wonderful surprise on a Mexican Stratocaster. The main attraction was the large reverse headstock. Jimi made this somewhat popular by playing a right handed guitar, in a left handed or upside down / backwards position.
One really subtle and cool vibe is that the pickups are not re-angled, meaning that when you turn the guitar backwards / or over, the pickups are upside down or angled backwards. Jimi did not re-angle them, so in essence they were cocked or angled the wrong way.
The guitar sounded great. The reverse headstock and un- re-angled pickups provide a different, yet rich, clear sound. By and large the difference in sound comes from having to reverse your strings when the tuners are on the bottom(upside down). The bass in particular is more intense. It seems to have a Hendrix-y type of tone, as noted by one of the players at our regular open jams who plays pure metal. Especially when I play some “Hey Joe” Hendrix style! It has stock tone controls and pickups with vintage knobs that match the era. All works well. I’m not quite as hard on the old whammy bar as Jimi.
Note: “Hey Joe” was written by Billy Roberts and was / is a country song…
Personally, I had to get used to playing the guitar. I am used to a better set-up guitar, and this one was not well set-up from the factory. Typical uneven spaced string width and string height at the nut made it harder to bend the strings than I feel is acceptable. Poorly made nut. The high E actually slipped off the side of the fret board until I made a temporary adjustment. It needs to be fully set-up, including adjusting the relief of the neck and setting up the strings height. This guitar will require a bone nut. Bone nuts are generally considered the best sounding nuts.
Sound serious and expensive, right? Wrong. I have preached that every guitar made needs to be set-up correctly. Especially all new guitars. A set-up job is fairly inexpensive, meaning costs range from about 45.00 to 95.00 dollars. When you consider an American Strat costs over 1000.00 dollars, you can add a few more bucks to upgrade a Mexican Strat and you have a perfectly set-up guitar that plays to it’s maximum, well worth the investment.
Incidently, Because of my passion for well set-up guitars, and the fact that I have the correct set-up and nut making tools, I will be setting this up in the near future with a bone nut, to my special string action and height specifications. I don’t mind sharing my specs either, just ask for them in the comment form. Soon I will be offering these basic set-up and nut making services to you, based on my strong feelings for them and the fact that I can make it very affordable too. More on that soon.
My final thoughts surrounding this Fender ’60′s era ‘Voodoo Strat’ guitar are simple. It has the tone qualities you want and it is well made, when you consider the price of purchase, and add in a full set-up job, it is still inexpensive and you have a guitar that plays as good or better than a more expensive instrument. Basically, it is a bargain and a very unusual model at the price it sells for. I enjoy it now and will love it after it’s transformation. I will report as soon as I’m done with the set-up, within the next month.
I enjoyed doing the review of this guitar and it should provide useful information on whether you want to buy one. It is a must have guitar for me! Check it out online and read more about it. If you feel like asking a question or commenting, Guitar Players Center has the answer. If you find this review helpful, Share It with the guitar players world. Thanks and Enjoy.
P.S. Musicians Friend (sister company to Guitar Center) has this guitar in stock at the same or better price than Guitar Center, who is out of stock now.