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Teach me about Strats


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  • #16
    Poor isn't looking for a $2,000 guitar, hoping to get one for $1,000... poor these days is selling plasma and giving handjobs for some extra cash while living on Ramen noodles.

    Seriously.... it was just a couple handjobs.

    You really need to go play several of them to see things like what neck profile you like and what fretboard radius and fret size you like. This are the things you just can't change after the purchase.

    For what it's worth, I'd put a used 60s Classic Player at the very top of my list. Comes with CS69 pickups which aren't my very favorite set, but they sound VERY stratty... Glossy tinted neck and vintage type tuners which IS my preference, 2 point trem which is not my preference but itsn't a deal-breaker for me. The 60s all have rosewood fretboards. Standard neck profile, flatter than average radius, but not too extreme... medium jumbo frets... Basically everything is a slight update from the originals but are updates most modern strat players prefer.

    And if you are a fan of light blue, I think it's about the best looking sub $1,000 strat going. Comes with the mint green pickguard and aged covers and knobs. I LOVE the look, but everyone might not. Very surfy.

    They cost $800 new and maybe $600 to $650 used. HECK of a nice guitar for that kind of money.

    I've been a strat guy for 30 years and have played a lot of nice guitars. If I suddenly lost everything and had $1,000 for a guitar and didn't have a lot of time to look around, this would be at the absolute top of my list.

    I went for the Classic Player's 50's Strat, which I would also recommend. The pick ups are not quite as high output as the CS69's, but are very Stratty and I liked the neck better than the Classic Players 60.


    • #17
      First, I think you should focus on Strats currently in production. When you talk about the history of Strats, you're talking about a very rich and long history full of tons of different guitars and details get a bit twisty. I agree with Fireproof777 in that it's almost too broad a topic to discuss succintly. Entire volumes have been written on Strats. It's kind of like saying "Teach me about cars"... you'd have to narrow your focus if you want a simply stated answer.

      As for Strats in production right now, you've got the Squier line, which are produced in Asian countries for budget prices. The Affinity and Standard Squiers really aren't anything special but the Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified line feature high quality and some nice appointments, relative to the price point. The Fender-branded Fenders are produced in either Mexico or the United States. The Standard series Fenders are MIM and are the most basic of them all and probably a good place to start if you want "Fender" on your headstock. These are also very popular for modding, as the stock pickups don't necessarily blow players away but they are still quality instruments. They should run you about $400 or possibly cheaper, if you get a deal. Among the American Fenders, you've got the American Special, which are slightly less expensive but still produced stateside and still high quality. These have Texas Special pickups (slightly hotter than normal) and will probably run you around $800. Then you have the American Standard, which are top-shelf guitars... arguably the best among Fender's production models and will cost you around $1100.

      In addition to these lines, you've also got the American Deluxe series, as well as any number of "spinoff" series which offer some kind of variation on the standard Strat paradigm. In its most basic form, the Strat has three single coil pickups, a five-way switch, and a Strat-style trem. These elements can be varied and Fender typically offers a bunch of alternate models if you want to use the Strat as a launching pad but there's some fundamental bit you'd like to change. These include Fat Strats (which have a humbucker in the bridge position), the Black Top series which have dual humbuckers, the Road Worn series which offers extra-playable guitars with distressed finishes and necks, and I'm pretty sure there's still at least one production Strat with a Floyd Rose double locking trem system. Plus, Artists models provide some unique variations if you like the idea of a Sig guitar. Finally, you can call the Custom Shop and they can make anything you can think of, if you're willing to pay a few thousand dollars for it.

      So... you've got a lot of options if you want a Strat. I agree with the people above, however. You need to research Fender's website http://www.fender.com and find an authorized Fender dealer near you and shop around A LOT. Once you start identifying elements you like and don't like, you can start narrowing in on one particular Strat for you.



      • #18
        I just recently bought a Squire Strat Affinity Series (low end hardware but alder body, maple neck and rw fretboard) it is currently SSS configuration but im going to be gutting it and replaceing the hardware, I payed $119.99 +tax for it, so for me, I would rather get a nice base and work from there, and On that note I also have a HSS Fender Std Strat (Made in Mexico) on its way, played it in the store and fell in love with it, which is odd since, a year ago I would never had touched a strat. But yeah I can only agree with the others, no one can tell you what you need to know, you have to get out there put a few in your hands and play and decide what feels right for you.
        "Well, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared to death
        And I'm scared to keep on going on my way
        Well, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared to death
        And I'll tell myself I'm special till the end"
        - Slip out (From where it hides)


        • #19
          Here's my basic strat advice. And this is coming from someone who is not an expert by any means...just my own personal experiences.

          First decide on one of these two combination's.....alder with a rosewood neck or ash with a maple neck. For a great example of the differences listen to this...



          the ash is brighter and snappier and the alder is warmer. Both are perfect examples of strat tone.

          I would also say make sure to find a strat that resonates like crazy. Feels alive in your hands. Always the best strats I've ever played have amazing resonant bodies where the notes just seem to fly off the guitar. If the wood is dead, pass on the guitar.

          And now for my usual MIJ plug:

          When you're done deciding...go to Ishibashi's ubox and order this navigator...

          Ultra thin nitro finish with no poly sealer, 2 piece ash body, built the way fender did in the 50's. Specs not even found on a masterbuilt fender for 1500 bucks.

          Or if alder is more your thing then type in "Van Zandt" to Isibashi's search. There are a couple alder models that have the same type of specs and build quality.


          • #20
            Regarding the recommendations for the Classic Players series: Yes, they're very good. You'll find that a lot of Strats are deliberately designed and voiced to feel and play like Fender's vintage models. This is because most Fender fans are nostalgic and the classics are hard to top. (American Vintage series, for example). I happen to like the Classic Player 60's a lot but I don't own one right now. Also, I've heard some good reviews about Highway One Strat but these things are all terribly subjective and there's no way to give you one concrete example.

            Keep in mind that there's nothing at all wrong with a nice CV or VM Squier and you'd be saving a lot of money right off the bat. They are the budget player's choice. Unforunately, Squiers don't have the best resale value. It might behoove you to buy a Fender if you ever envision yourself selling it but I would honestly warn against spending a full $1,000 on your first Strat. I know you've been playing a while but if your initial attraction to Strats wears off, you don't want to have washed a lot of money down the drain.


            • #21
              Fender lite ash strat here, modded w/57 voodoo humbucker for all the poly, it's a keeper love that bright sound
              2004 Fender Lite Ash Strat (w/voodoo '57)
              2012 Gibson Firebird V 2010
              Mesa Boogie Mark 1 reissue 1-12 combo
              'old' Fender medium and Herco Flex 75 picks
              2-12 cab sapele/maple

              Trees harboring termites are just as bad as the termites
              Newspaper article fame is an Ironic form of game.
              All that's necessary for evil to exist is for good people to play the Gee-tar!!!


              • #22
                Some info here on vintage strats.


                • #23
                  Man I'm in the same boat. Just when I think I've thought up the combo I want, I see something else online. All I know is if it doesn't have the or 2/4 position sound and a trem (blocked or not) it's not a strat to me. Too many combos. I'm a firm believer in wrapping my hands around a guitar before I buy it. I was going to post the same link as DaleH above.


                  • #24
                    You should just buy a classic vibe strat and see if you like playing them. They are a squier and can be had for about 300 bucks and anyone can tell you they are pretty damn good.

                    If you like it, you can spend some more money on another and flip it or keep it.
                    MIA Fender Strat / Gibson Les Paul Studio / Custom Telecaster / Washburn WI66 / Custom Stratocaster / Martin D15S / Guild D55 / Simon & Patrick Cedar / Martin HD16R LSH​


                    • #25
                      You should just buy a classic vibe strat and see if you like playing them. They are a squier and can be had for about 300 bucks and anyone can tell you they are pretty damn good.

                      Yeah they are a really good deal.. I also think the Fender Highway 1 is really good (i have one), the neck feels really great.. The only thing that I didn't like was the greasebucket circuit, but that's removed in half an hour..


                      • #26
                        Just a follow up, spent the week hitting the different shops nearby. Ones that have stood out the most so far are a red American Deluxe V-Neck, one of it's c-neck counterparts, and a ****************ing rad 72' raw finish that sounds like it wants to kill someone.

                        Mucho appreciation to all of the suggestions and information.

                        I'll be sure to come back with lots of guitar porn once I finally pick one and bring it home.
                        My lungs taste the air of time, blown past falling sands...

                        Gretsch Electromatic Corvette, Carvin DC127
                        '64 Gibson Mercury
                        Fender Tonemaster 4x12 w/ vintage 30's
                        '70, GE-7, 535Q, RAT, Orange Box, OCD, TR-2, PS-5, DMM, DD-7


                        • #27
                          Very cool! The American Deluxe is really good. My favorite neck on a Fender is the "modern C" shape


                          • #28
                            Similar feelings, Komodo, to those I had several years ago; wanted to hate the Strat on account of how cliche they are, but HUGE (in my case) Belew and Richard Thompson and Dire Straits fan

                            went out on a limb & bought a parts-caster from another forum-ite here hoping I could mod it to where it would make me happy

                            1st, took it to my fave tech-guy for a proper set-up. He talked me into "dive only" set-up of the trem, FWIW - it's what has worked the best for him in the past - not right or wrong

                            2 yrs later, I rarely pick up my Parker - grab this partscaster 1st for practice. I really can't put it down !
                            Thru my Roland JC anp model - I love this tone more than food

                            For Strats, I don't feel it's specific pick-ups or amplification or great technique or any some such

                            things are the way they are for a reason : as my shrink used to say - there's a REASON Strats are so popular
                            an expert on what it feels like to be me
                            & you are who you google


                            • #29
                              There are 300 page books just about Strats. It would take hours to explain all the variations and flavors. Get your price range set, and then go out and play as many in your price range as you can. Eventually, the "one" will emerge.

                              This advice is perfect. I had so much fun shopping for my Strat because there are so many out there. I couldn't have said it better. Play as many as you can, the "one" will emerge. Even if you play only 20 or so (can even be done in the boonies if you're willing to drive a bit), you'll run across a winner or two.

                              Don't pay attention to specs or origin or price (within budget). Use your hands and ears.


                              • #30
                                Get one with an alder versus ash body, unless the ash happens to be a primo sample of swamp ash. A lot of the ash bodies used on strats are the harder northern ash woods which are too bright, piercing and a bit shallow sounding for my tastes. But great for chickin pickin.
                                A '57 Classic, MIJ from USA parts.
                                HCEG Existentialism: I buy guitars, therefore, I am.
                                Well Dick, it's got a good beat, and I could dance to it, so I give it a 10!
                                I have opinions of my own,strong opinions but I don't always agree with them.