You can never have too many guitars right? I had been thinking about getting a Stratocaster for a while. I’ve already got an awesome Gretsch Electromatic, but I thought I’d get some single coil goodness to contrast it’s beefy humbuckers (we at least need some excuse to justify our gear addictions right?). Where else but the classic Fender Strat could I possibly go?
I started saving a while back, and this weekend I noticed that my local guitar shop were doing a 10% off deal on all American made guitars. Well I couldn’t really say no to that.
There it is; an Olympic White American Standard Strat with a maple neck. I decided to go with a maple neck for 2 reasons, firstly because I think it looks cooler than a rosewood neck on a strat, and secondly because I have an ebony neck on my other guitar, and I fancied something that felt a little different. As for colour, the choice seems a bit limited compared to the Mexican made ones, for me it came down to Black, or Olympic White. I went with white. Because Hendrix, that’s why.
The guitar comes with a pretty sturdy hard case, a strap, and a cable, along with all the documentation etc. The set-up out of the box was okay, however I think it could have done with 10 gauge strings rather than 9’s. The set it came with were buzzing like anything, particularly on the 6th string. Thankfully I bought a set of 10’s and changed them almost straight away which got rid of most of the buzz. With the new strings there is a bit of buzz on the G string, but I’m hoping to take it for a set up soon to sort that out.
It feels absolutely awesome to play. The neck and fingerboard took some getting used to after playing a much chunkier, flatter neck on my Gretsch. After I got settled though, I found it extremely comfortable to play, the more rounded fingerboard radius is really nice.
I absolutely love the range of tones that you can get with the 3 single coil pickups. From the Little Wing-esque neck pick up, to the Dick Dale biting treble of the bridge. My favourite has to be the bridge and middle position though, it has a really honky, quacking blues sound which sounds absolutely amazing.
The tone knobs give a massive usable range. The tone knobs on some guitars I’ve played have basically only really provided good sounds on a small part of their overall range, but these are great. With a clean tone you might not want to turn the tone knob to zero, but even that is usable with some distortion if you want a grungy, stoner rock sound.
I was slightly worried about the single coil hum that often gets mentioned. I haven’t totally cranked it yet, but so far it has only made a very minor appearance, and isn’t loud enough to be heard when playing.
For me the tremolo bridge is a bit of a mixed bag, I am a fan of droning open strings and playing fiddly bits up the neck. If I do that with this though the open string goes out of tune if I bend a different string because the tension from bending a string pulls on the floating bridge. That can be annoying. It was also a bit awkward that I had to adjust the trem spring tension after changing the string gauge to stop the bridge from floating at a ludicrous angle. However the tremolo arm does it’s job and doesn’t seem to put the strings massively out of tune. It is fairly simple and reversable to block the trem system if I want to, so if it does bother me too much I’ll just do that.
All in all this a really, really awesome guitar. It sounds amazing through my Marshall DSL-15C with a bit of overdrive from my Fulltone Plimsoul. It’s just a beautiful thing all round and a pleasure to play.