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Tokyo Blues Man

Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Sound Quality

I love the feel of hard maple (probably eastern sugar maple but I could be wrong…) finger board on Strat.  It is strictly a personal preference but I believe it contribute to the tone and sound quality as well versus rose wood (or ebony for that matter) finger board.  I understand that Eric Johnson specifically told Fender to use quarter sawn maple wood for neck/finger board and it pays (mine even has slight figure to it as well).  As you all know, if you switch the back neck plate, you cannot tell this guitar apart from regular ’57 (or any models on until ’62 or so) Strat other than no string guide on head stock and that is exactly Mr. Johnson wanted his model to be.  Since he was so particular about details of his signature model, it shows on sound.  You can feel the vibration of the strings as the sound resonates through the guitar body onto your body every time you strum or pick.  It is a loud guitar when played unplugged and that is always a good thing when it comes to a solid body electric guitar.

I am pretty happy with the way it sounds plugged in.  I have Peavey Classic 30 and Fender ’59 Bassman Reissue LTD that I have recently acquired by trading in my silver face Deluxe Reverb and I switch them according to the venues that we play.  I have switched V1 position preamp tube to 12AY7 on both of my amps to tame the tone and Mr. Johnson’s Strat sounds very nice through both of them.  Clean and mellow is the way I like my sound to be since I mostly play Blues influenced style music.  It took me a while to get used to bridge pickup tone control but once I got used to it, it is not a big deal.  Since Eric Johnson Specially Wound Pickups are not as hot as, say, Texas Specials, they tend to lack in dynamics and volume (and that is why I am a bit tempted to switch pickups…) but you can turn that characteristics into your advantage.  If your play style and kind of music that you play are pretty mellow, then stock pickups are actually better than Texas Special.  No one would buy this guitar thinking they are going to play metal or hardcore anyway.

My favorite position is neck and middle pick together.  It nails that nice mellow clean Strat sound through Fender Bassman with slight grittiness to it.  It is mellow and bluesy at the same time and that is the most often used position with me.  Bridge – middle pickup combination is awesome as well and I use middle pickup alone instead of bridge pickup alone when I need some punch to my sound since it is so bright yet not ear piercing high.

Again, it is all about personal taste but this guitar gives you that nice mellow and clean tone that original late ‘50s Strats have.  Of course, it sounds great with pedals as well.  I used ME-50 after going through series of individual pedals, and that gives me plenty of options when it comes to variety of sounds that I might need for different songs.  TS-9 and Marshall Stack emulations are my favorite with this guitar when it comes to distortion and it sounds awesome.


I have been gigging regularly (twice a month since that is pretty much all I can handle now days with a fulltime job and family, etc.) with it ever since I bought it little over two years ago and have not had any problems or issues.  I know this guitar will outlive me and probably end up in one of our sons’ possession someday though hope not anytime soon.


General Comments

It is a great guitar!!  It is a classy guitar!!  It doesn’t have any special features like other signature models do, but that’s exactly what it is and that is what Eric Johnson intended when he helped Fender to come up with his first signature model (I heard that it took them 2 years to come up with this guitar because Mr. Johnson was so particular about everything from materials, etc).  A good old Strat that Fender used to make in ‘50s and ‘60s, nothing more and nothing less.  And if that is what you like as I do, then you would love this guitar.

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