« Very cool... »Published on 12/07/11 at 18:10
The design of this Strat has a few improvements that set it apart from the standard American model. One of those improvements that really helps with the design is the contoured neck heel that is found on some newer Strats. This is critical for gaining great upper fret access, and makes this Strat much easier to play than some of its more vintage style counterparts. The guitar is a little bit on the heavier side due to the ash/maple construction but it's still quite easy to hold and play for longer periods of time. The upper fret access is quite good because of not only the contoured neck heel but also the very nice neck finish, which isn't so glossy as to inhibit hand movement up and down the neck. Awesome!
This Strat may look like a meek vintage piece, but rest assured it has some serious grind underneath its hood. The pickups are Fender Noiseless models and seem a bit hotter to me than the standard models. That being said, they don't seem to sacrifice that wonderful Strat clarity or sparkle that really makes a good Strat stand out. Using a clean sound, the pickups range from offering that great Hendrix esque clean tone (very bright and funky but with a certain body to it that lends itself well to both chord and lead work) to some classic country chicken pickin' type tones using the middle pickup, to some Dire Straits type sounds or even some surf rock. Switching over to a drive tone brought in some seriously thick and punchy tone that was great for everything from '70s arena rock to modern day shred. Kicking in the S-1 circuit thickened the tone up significantly and made the single coils sound more like humbuckers... great for even heavier tones a-la Black Sabbath or Kyuss.
All in all I think this Strat is a great guitar that has both collector appeal and great playability/tone. It's based off the American Deluxe Strat which is a tried and true design, but it has that nice classy/vintage vibe that so many players these days really like. They can be had for about $1,200 used which is a decent deal considering the features and tone quality that you're getting. If you're after a great Strat that can do many different styles for not a ridiculous amount of cash, give the 50th Anniversary Strat a whirl.