Fender Stratocaster American Series
Made In: USA
Specs: Ash body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: 3 x Fender single coil pickups
Controls: Volume, 2 x Tone, 5-way switch
When you get the urge for a Strat, and you should at some point, it’s worth investing some time in finding the right Strat for you. A Strat, like a puppy, is not just for xmas, but more like a lifelong companion. No matter what the world throws at you, once you’ve got the right Strat with you, everything will be ok. This is the law.
With this in mind, I played a lot of Strats before finding this white-blonde, ash bodied beauty in Dublin in late summer of 2000. More so than any other guitar I tried, this one just spoke to me and I paid an eye-watering sum to secure it.
For several months, the Strat and I lived in a bliss-like state, secure in our mutual admiration and understanding. No matter what I played, the Strat made it sound good. It was the best of times. However, trouble lay in wait and, after about nine months, a sizeable crack in the finish appeared along the edge of the skunk-stripe in the back of the neck. Concerned, but not overly so, I kept playing but had to concede defeat as several more cracks started to appear in the neck finish. Back to the shop we went and the Strat went back to Fender for examination.
A couple of weeks later I received the call and eagerly went back to collect my Strat.
“Eh, it looks like they replaced the neck.” I was told.
In these days of CNC production, a neck change should be a straightforward thing, swapping like for like. Or so I thought. Try as I might and, believe me I tried, I really tried, I could never set it up as I liked with the 2001 neck. It just never felt right. It didn’t sound right either, I had to set the pickups a lot lower than with the first neck as they were interfering with the string vibration, affecting sustain and intonation. I couldn’t believe it. The 2001 neck was a pale shadow of the original 2000 neck. It was probably a perfectly fine guitar in its revised state, indeed friends told me so, but it simply wasn’t comparable to just how good the original guitar had been. A phenomenal instrument which transcended the sum of its parts was gone.
I persisted for a few years but the experience was never the same, much like a girlfriend with a prosthetic leg, and couldn’t bond with what felt like a stranger. Eventually, I eased it on out the door and embarked on another search for a Strat for life.