Advantages Tough, durable, wide variety of tones, ergonomic body, fast neck
Disadvantages Hum and noise due to stock single-coil pickups
|Quality of sound|
|How easy is it to buy accessories?|
|Value for money|
|Quality of amplified sound|
|How well constructed is it?||very well|
|Range of tones||very rich|
Bought a maple-neck (with black plastic dot markers) sunburst Am Std Strat from Bentley Music in Kuala Lumpur in 1992 for RM 1 670. came with a rectangular hardshell case (not form-fit) with screw-type SKB hinges and lock (padlock not provided).Had to go through 7 guitars until I found 1 that had a flaw I could correct (faulty volume pot). This goes to say that all the guitars I tested had unpardonable flaws such as poor string-polepiece alignment (you lose power and definition), ill-fitting neck-pocket, badly-seated nut (you lose tone and sustain) or scratchy/poorly tapered volume and/or tone
This should not be the case with a fine company such as Fender. Quality control must be tightened, in my humble opinion. As mentioned before, out of neccessity; I chose one with everything 'in order' except for a faulty neck volume pot (the one closest to the bridge). A quick switch to a new Ibanez 250K volume pot solved the problem in no time at all.The neck is fast and smooth with 22 medium-jumbo frets that have been fitted and crowned adequately; with no jagged fret ends to snare my fingers. The single-coil pickups catch a lot of interference from relays and stage lights' especially when overdriven. Positions 2 and 4 are hum-cancelling, though; and lend a glassy 'Mark Knopfler-like' tone to one's cries and bends.
A change to heavier strings sees a much more noticeable increase in string tension and bending difficulty; when compared to a Les Paul. This is due to the longer 25 1/2 inch scale length; as compared to the 24 3/4 scale for Les Pauls. The familiar 5-way blade switch does its job well, with no audible pops or clicks; and that's a reassuring sign.Tuners are sealed Am Stds, with a nylon collar and tension-adjusting screw. Stringing is fast and smooth. There is no slippage; especially if the unwound 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings are first bent and then wound back on themselves.
On the other end, the tremolo is balanced on 2 large screws (apparently brass). The six individual steel saddles are rectangular, with two height-adjustment screws. The sustain block seems to be compressed powdered steel. I added 2 more springs (to the factory-fitted 3) and tightened the tremolo flush to the body as I do not use it anyway. Plus, you get a natural sustain boost due to the extra contact of the tremolo with the body.I have tried 'playing around' with the Am Std tremolo just out of curiousity; and the bad news is that after a few dives, the whole guitar goes out-of-tune. Putting pencil lead and oiling the undersides of the string trees did not help at all. Strat-playing friends have reported the same problem too. The only option might be to replace the stock tuners with locking Sperzels; and the nut with a Wilkinson Roller or locking nut. The problem does not lie with the 2-screw pivoting tremolo; but rather at the headstock end of things.
As for shielding, the output jack socket and body cavities have been sprayed with a grounded, carbon-based paint that shows attention to detail. The same, however, cannot be said about the underside of the 3-ply white-black-white plastic pickguard. Only the area surrounding the selector switch and 3 pots are shielded by metal foil, while the rest is bare. This is not a good idea; I would like to see fullly grounded foil on the entire back surface of the pickguard. This is very important for a single-coil-equipped guitar such as this.More on the pots, then. The 2nd tone pot (middle and bridge pickups) is a stacked 'TBX' pot that acts as a normal tone pot from 1-5, and then gradually allows a remarkable amount of presence and highs to be added when turned from 5-10. The difference is noticeable, especially at higher amp volume settings. I'd say that this feature is a great innovation and adds extra dimension; as compared to a normal tone pot.
In terms of 'security,' take note that no strap locks are provided; as with the Strat Plus. There is the tendency for your strap to slip; and the guitar to go crashing to the floor; if you use a strap with worn-out holes. The solution would be to purchase strap locks; or normal strap buttons with a wider flange. You could also get hold of washers (available at hardware outlets) and screw these on permanently in between the strap and your strap button.All said and done, besides the obvious noise and hum that is usually present; this guitar is a must-have for any gigging guitarist who needs a versatile instrument for a variety of musical styles. A Strat is a Strat; with all its tonal characteristics and inherent weaknesses. Let us never forget that is these very qualities that have made the Strat a
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