Fender Stratocaster American Standard

Fender Stratocaster American Standard

Year: 2009

Made In: USA

Specs: Alder body, maple neck & fretboard

Electronics: Bacchus SCC-1 single-coil x 3

Controls: Volume, tone x 2, five-way switch

Keeping the run of Fenders going, this is a recent addition I picked up in a trade. I had initially thought it might be useful as trade bait but I’m starting to warm to it.

It came with Lace Sensors – Blue, Gold, Light Blue which I was interested to try out. Each on their own was rather nice, but they didn’t work as a set. The Blue in the bridge was particularly thin sounding in relation to the other pickups. The Light Blue in the neck was very nice, it must be said. I think a better matched set might have stayed in but I had a set of Bacchus SCC-1 sitting around which came out of the G-Player, so they went in after not too long. They really work well in this guitar. It’s absolutely classic Strat tone now in every position.

The neck on this is quite a bit bigger than I remember either of the American Series necks from my old Strat. Perhaps it’s something which came in when they started calling them American Standards, I don’t know. I don’t mind a big neck, so I’m getting along quite well with it. I’m not sure I approve of going back to the bent steel saddles though, it seems something of a backwards step to me. Overall, this is a nicely put together guitar which is getting played more than I thought it would, so it’ll stick around for the time being.

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Bacchus JST

Bacchus JST

Year: 2003

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Yuta single-coil x 3

Controls: Volume, tone x 2, five-way switch

There’s business and there’s serious business. This one surfaced in Cork, of all places, for very little money but I didn’t have the cash at the time and tried to wipe it from my mind, thinking it would be snapped up immediately at that asking price. A month later, I noticed the ad again and it had the usual tyre kicker comments but looked like it hadn’t sold. I contacted the seller and, to my amazement, it was still available. I travelled down the next day. He opened the case, I saw the three-digit serial number and the deal was done straight away. I’ve contacted Bacchus looking for information but all they could confirm was it was a custom order.

At the risk of not making absolute sense, this is the strattiest strat I have ever played. It encompasses everything, in my mind, which defines a strat to the absolute maximum. It’s hard to articulate, to be honest.

It feels great. It has meaty C shaped neck, small frets, super thin finish with a real old vibe to it. Accordingly, the bridge pickup doesn’t go to a tone control and, while bright, is not unbearably harsh. The one modern concession made is a five-way switch. It’s stratty to a ridiculous level and entirely charming as a result.

This is serious business.

Fender Stratocaster American Series

Fender Stratocaster American Series

Year: 2000

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

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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.