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Actually, this isn't about accurately pinning a guitar's date of construction down, it is more an overview of varying construction techniques over the production run of the Fender Stratocaster model line. When I first started getting serious about wanting to know about my Fenders. I heard a myriad of terms like 'slab board, lam board, big head, little head, spaghetti logo, big logo, black logo, gold logo' -- I was lost. I had owned a Fender for almost thirty years and was in the dark! Even after reading descriptions of what these terms meant, I still needed a visual. A picture is worth a thousand words, a sample is worth a million. I gave my wife that reasoning so I could begin collecting guitars!

First allow me to introduce you to my Fender Telecaster, purchased new in 1972 from Manny's Music on 48th Street in Manhattan, it is a 1971 model, as determined by the date on the heel of the neck. The only modifications made are the addition of Strat knobs (I like having the numbers) and an old-style barrel selector switch cap. The original cap broke after twenty-five years in service. Think I should try to claim it on warranty?

The American flag on the upper bout was installed in 1972 as a show of support for the American troops then stationed in Viet Nam. The flag came off in 1975, but was reinstalled on September 12, 2001. It will stay this time. The headstock of this guitar is of interest as it displays the large black Fender logo and bold script that I believe was introduced after the CBS takeover of 1964, probably around 1967. Before I write another word, here is a link to the absolutely most thorough site I've seen regarding Fender finishes. This guy seems to be the man when it comes to this info. http://www.provide.net/~cfh/fenderc.html/

As the seventies wore on, the TELECASTER font got more bold. Note the 'flame' or 'teardrop' of walnut on the headstock. This leads me to a crucial, though misunderstood topic of Fender construction. This guitar, although sporting a rosewood fingerboard, is still routed for a truss rod from the back of the neck. The contrasting skunk stripe of black walnut is the giveaway. The fingerboard is a very thin laminate of rosewood, not an actual fingerboard at all. The teardrop is a plug filling the access hole where the non-adjusting end of the truss rod is anchored during construction. Please note only one string tree or retainer. Later models had two. Correct string winding is all that is required to keep the tension correct, another tree isn't all that necessary.

The 1961 Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster also had a rosewood fingerboard, but this board is an actual slab of rosewood. These guitars sport no teardrop or skunk stripe.

LEFT: lam board, rosewood is arched and comes no where near the truss rod adjusting bolt, neck has skunk stripe on back. (1971 Telecaster)

RIGHT: Slab board is true separate fingerboard. Neck is plain on back. Truss rod bolt touches or intrudes on fingerboard. (1962 Stratocaster)

LEFT: Skunk stripe as seen on the back of 1971 Fender Telecaster neck. When I was a kid, the stripe, to me, meant it was a real Fender! More fool me, the pre-1964 stuff, what everyone dreamed about owning, had no stripe, unless you went back to the 1950's models, which none of us poor Bronx kids ever got to see!

When Fender reintroduced maple fingerboards in the late 1960's, they didn't as much reintroduce it, they reinvented it. Rather than go back to the skunk stripe and one piece neck, they took their production rosewood necks and merely added a maple board rather than a rosewood one. This gave us a neck with no skunk stripe, no teardrop, great stability, and if you look closely you can see the separate board. See below:

Sorry about the fuzziness of the picture, this was a tight shot! You can indeed see the separation of neck and board, though.

Let's talk about heads! Now we all can tell a Telecaster from a Stratocaster by the profile of the headstock. Tele's have always looked strange and definitely funky to me. That headstock is just too small for the rest of the instrument. It appeals now, but I was turned off by it as a kid. Didn't keep me from buying one though!

Stratocaster heads are much more graceful--until 1968, then they went bug-eye big. I believe Fender CBS didn't want to cut many styles of neck and, considering that the Jaguar and Jazzmaster were their flagship models and had gone to a larger headstock pattern, decided to cut Strats to the same pattern. This is not a criticism, it was a business decision. Regardless, we lost the svelte, sexy head in favor of a ping pong paddle. Don't take my word for it, see below.

LEFT: Graceful 1962 Fender Stratocaster headstock, sporting delicate spaghetti logo and small font STRATOCASTER model name. RIGHT: 1968 Strat paddle headstock, still sporting graceful, though larger gold logo and delicate model name. A transition to:

LEFT: Welcome to the Seventies! Honking big head, big, BIG STRATOCASTER model name. Two string trees render the vibrato unit a sticky issue, as the increased drag of the trees causes strings to go out of tune if you use the whammy bar at all. Bullet truss rod end did relieve one Fender quirk -- you didn't have to remove the neck from the instrument to adjust the rod. Adjustment had been hit-or-miss prior to the bullet, as you couldn't tell the effect of the adjustment without reinstalling the neck, tuning up, checking, and then having to go through the whole process again if things still weren't right!

 

And for comparison purposes, here is a Jazzmaster (CIJ '66 reissue) headstock showing a transitional intermediate-sized headstock.  Note the slightly more shapely area under the brand name and the one-piece decal.  I like the scroll work as well.

The Fender Telecaster also came close to sharing a similar headstock to the Strat. This picture, from Ken Achard's terrific little 1979 book "The Fender Guitar" (Musical New Services Ltd., London England) shows a Telecaster Custom with a Strat headstock . Please note: there is a Telecaster Custom from the early seventies that has the humbucker in the neck position and a normal Tele bridge/pickup

 combination. This one has the twin humbuckers like the seventies-era Tele thinline, but no f-hole. I'd love one of these Tele's -- it's the Fender man's Les Paul!

Oh, and if you ever come across this book by Mr. Achard, grab it, it has a comprehensive discussion of the Toronado's, the Antigua's and the Montego's--frankly I'd only ever heard of the Toronado's!

Another item that came along with the bullet truss rod was the three-bolt micro-tilt neck. Again, another great idea -- one that could go wrong! The problem wasn't in the idea, it was in the execution. Many old Fenders, pre three bolt, will have small shims placed within the neck pocket to adjust a bit if angle into the neck joint. Fender addressed this by making the neck angle adjustable. Loosen one bolt, turn an allen key to the desired adjustment, retighten bolt. Viola! Manufacturing tolerances got sloppy though, loose neck pockets caused the whole assembly to be unstable. You could literally shift the neck in the pocket with you hand, dropping one e string or the other right off the fingerboard. Many three bolt necks were converted to four bolt, eliminating the adjustment, but also fixing the sloppiness.

LEFT: Three bolt with micro-tilt adjustment. This one works, built by Fender in the 1990's. Dead giveaway, there is no serial number on the plate. Up until the mid seventies, Fender engraved the serial number here. As this could easily be removed by a thief or forger, Fender incorporated the serial number into the headstock decal, which looked like crap, but couldn't be easily removed. These days, Fender puts the serial number on 60's and 70's reissues (Mexican) on the rear of the head and engraves the neck plate once again on American reissues.

Body styles have remained fairly constant although in the late 1960's either because of the amount of handwork involved or simple aging of the tooling, the Strat and Tele both got a bit dumpy. The contouring was not as crisp and deep, the bodies felt clumsy.

Below are two shots, one of a 1962 body, the other a 1968. Maybe you can see what I mean. In person, it's noticeable.

Another noticeable series of changes over the years have been in hardware. The most noticeable one apart from tuning machines (and I prefer the slotted ones over the ones with the single hole as they do not slip as badly) is the actual bridge unit. On the Telecaster, there has been a move (much appreciated) to a six way bridge rather than the three way unit. On Strats, there are six point six ways, the hard tail (not discussed here) and two point six way bridges. Below are two examples. One is the vintage unit on my 1970 reissue, the other is the modern six way as found on my 1994 Strat.

LEFT: Vintage steel

RIGHT: 1994 steel, heavier, more sustain. I still like the look of the old bridge saddles though. Call me old fashioned, I am!



And speaking of the old days. (well, I kinda was, after all) do you remember that little item that came along with the guitar? The one you never used? Sure, Tele guys are more apt to speak of the 'ashtray' in hushed and reverent tones, but so few of us recall when the Stratocaster came with a bridge cover. Believe it or not, I never got a bridge cover with my 1973 Strat back in '73. I guess it was either misplaced at the store, or Fender had stopped including them. My 1971 Tele came with one though, so if it was a factory cutoff, I'd have to assume it was some time in 1972 or early 1973. The Tele ashtray was/is a big, bulky piece that totally precludes palm muting at the bridge, so there are absolutely no Tele players on this planet that actually play the instrument with the thing snapped onto the guitar. My Tele has dents in the finish around the bridge from a few installations. \The Strat ashtray/bridge cover is a much smaller, dainty and almost useable item. I can actually play the instrument with the cover on. See these pictures. If you look at Fender's product line in the 1050's and 1960's, you will note that Leo was interested in streamlining, cleaning-up and detailing with chrome cover pieces. The Jazz bass springs to mind as the most 'shy' instrument with covers over the bridge and both pickups. Even Jaguars and Jazzmasters had small chrome covers for their bridges! Was it a modesty issue? The Strat cover is like the Tele unit in that it clips to the bridge using its own spring tension to hold it on, However, the Strat unit snugs up to the bridge base plate rather than against the finish. This means one can use the whammy bar with the cover in place and not chew up the paint. The 1972 advertisement shown at www.pellegrinlowend.com/fender.html shows the cover in place on the cartoon Strat. Fender's Mexican reissue Strats do not come with the ashtray. Indeed, the ashtray will not fit any modern Strat bridge or my 1970 Mexican Strat reissue. This is a very minor detail on a truly fine instrument and should not be construed as a complaint on my part. I do like authenticity in reissues.

 

The Jazzmaster and Jaguar are often maligned for their vibrato/tremolo system.  With proper set-up and use, the things work just fine. 

 

To the left is a Jazzmaster bridge.  It is built so that each string can be adjusted individually for height and intonation.  Problems? Well, one must take care when adjusting the intonation as the bridge will rock forward if you press on the intonation screw(s) too hard.  Make sure the bridge stays centered and upright and you'll be fine.  Change strings one at a time to avoid the bridge shifting during this process.  Some have complained about the strings buzzing and rattling on the saddles due to the shallow angle the strings come at the bridge from the tailpiece.  A device called a BUZZSTOP can be used to add some angle to the strings, but some complain that this changes the distinctive sound of the Jazzmaster.  The best solution seems to be to shim the neck slightly to allow for a higher bridge setting. My reissue played fine right from the dealer (Ishibashi -- Kanda, Japan.)

 

The Jazzmaster tailpiece is a neat little unit that will allow for good vibrato -- I wouldn't push it past a half step down, though.  With correct set-up and judicious use, it returns the guitar to pitch perfectly every time.  No dive bombs, but perfect for Sleepwalk and other 1960's instro's.  The trick to the Jazzmaster is to use strings no lighter than .010's  and to adjust the trem as follows.  Place bar in a position parallel to the guitar's body. Lock the trem with the locking button (seen between the two screws furthest to the left in the photo.)  Tune the strings to pitch.  Unlock the trem lock. The guitar may go out of tune.  In this case, turn the adjusting screw (just aft of the lock) until the guitar has returned to pitch. The arm should be in  the right spot.  How's that for a slice of fried gold?

 

 

 

Okay, here's,  my favorite Jazzmaster feature -- the separate lead/rhythm circuit.  Rather than have to switch pickups, adjust volume and tone at the beginning and end of a solo, the Jazzmaster player can preset the lead setting with the normal knobs and switches and then preset a rhythm sound with a separate tone and volume control on the upper bout and use a small slide switch to instantly change from one sound to another.  Leo was a genius! I wish my strats had this feature!

 

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere on the internet you can find loads of material on dating a guitar by serial number, it is quite an involved process now with guitars having been made in California, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, etc. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I urge you to search for these sites. If you are the webmaster for such a page and would like to link to this page, please contact me at sportbike@mybizz.net.

 

FENDER, STRATOCASTER and TELECASTER are registered trademarks of the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation. FENDER is no way associated with this website, Low End or Harry G. Pellegrin

  LOW END  By Harry George Pellegrin.  The first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries.  Dealing with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the 1980's...  LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major government conspiracy.  Is it only drug-induced paranoia?  Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he was murdered, after all.  Friend Gary Morrissey takes it upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in the crosshairs.
See more info...
Classic Guitar Method  Composed, written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
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DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz  By Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative spirituality does battle with the common working man.  Published by PAB Entertainment Group in association with LULU.com.
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Reflecting Pools    Original Music by Harry G. Pellegrin:
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...

"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional exploits."

Available through www.BATHTUBMUSIC.com...

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or www.bathtubmusic.com.

In That Zone, is now out! Please visit www.bathtubmusic.com for details and to order.

See the info page on this site...

 

 

Over the past four years I have posted a number of reviews on www.harmonycentral.com. This is a neat website where consumers can post reviews of musical products. Of course, you will have some reviews penned by folks with axes to grind (sorry about the pun) so read all the reviews of a product before deciding if a product is or isn't worth buying. I have reproduced here three guitar reviews and a pickup review that I added to the site

The 1968 Stratocaster Reissue (Made in Japan)

Purchased from:
Parkway Music, Clifton Park, New York

Features: 9
This guitar was made in Japan some time in the late nineties. I bought it second-hand from Parkway Music in Clifton Park, New York for $325.00, which included a Fender deluxe gig bag. The neck is maple with a separate glued-on maple fingerboard. Much the same as my late sixties Telecaster, the neck is quite narrow at the nut, but flares out to a more normal width quickly -- sort of like a Jazz bass. The frets are the period-correct mini wire and even with the rounded neck radius, seriously steep bends do not choke out. A very nice fret job and set-up. The body is (I believe) Ash judging by the weight, although the finish is a lovely opaque vintage white - and I have heard that all but sunbursts are made of Poplar. It has a vintage style vibrato bridge, which works just fine unless you're going for total dive-bombs. Tuners are slotted vintage. I prefer slotted to all others for ease of use. It is the usual Stratocaster and a very faithful reproduction of an instrument from this year (I know, I was around and playing then!)

Sound: 10
I use this guitar through either a Hotrod DeVille or DeLuxe depending on the size of the venue with a 2X12 Marshall cabinet with the DeVille on opposite stage when in a really big place. Effects: Blues Driver, DOD Chorus, Dunlop 95Q wah, Dan Echo. I replaced the stock pickups with two Texas Specials in neck and mid and a DiMarzio SDS-1 in the bridge. With this setup I can get all the ducky sounds, the SRV thwock and a stinkin' good screaming distortion when the mood suits. The guitar has that wonderful Strat sound [ALL OF THEM] and feels great. To me, if I can't get the sound I'm looking for with this guitar, I really don't want it! The thing has the normal level of buzz when sitting next to a fluorescent fixture and feeds back VERY controllably on the SDS-1 when I roll into the 95Q a bit. Lots of fun. It also can be cajoled into a smokey, jazzy kind of clean sound as well.

Action, Fit, & Finish: 10
Being a second-hander, I can't thank or fault the factory for anything. Parkway always does lovely set-ups on their inventory, so it was a keeper right off the rack. The pickups were replaced almost immediately, so they were good straight away as well. The fit and finish are what you'd expect from Japan -- flawless. This instrument has all the character and tactile satisfaction that the old Americans had/have with all the sparkle and attention to detail that the Japanese deliver. What a combo! The previous owner kept the instrument immaculately; they could have sold it for new. After three years, the pickguard screws have rusted where I most often touch them, but this gives it the same vintage vibe my old Tele has as well!

Reliability/Durability: 10
Hey man, it's a Fender! Cockroaches Cher's plastic surgery and these guitars will all be around after Dr. Strangelove Day. The finish is as thick as any epoxy job from the late sixties and will never wear. I've got Dunlop strap locks because I've dropped my share, but this thing would probably bounce if dropped -- and stay in tune. I would depend on this guitar (and do) but always play with a backup as I will on occasion break a string (and I use 11's). Beast.

Customer Support: N/A
Never used them, though on questions they've always been good as gold. I once worked for a manufacturer and if I can't fix it, they couldn't either. So, I guess I have no real opinion.

Overall Rating: 10
I own four other Strats, two Telecasters, a Les Paul, a Mockingbird, an Epiphone Lucille, a Player MDS-1, a Ramirez 1a, a Regal RC-2, a Fender Jazz Bass and a partridge in a pear tree. Been playing 32 years, BA in music. If this guitar were stolen, I'd hire the LA police dept. to massage the thief. I love this one and wish I had two.

Submitted by Vespi Scarpelli at 08/02/2002 17:09

The 1960 Stratocaster Reissue (Made in Mexico)

Price Paid: US $489

Purchased from: Parkway Music, Clifton Park

Features: N/A
Guitar purchased new in December 2000. I wanted a guitar built this century! Lake Placed Blue with mint pickguard and aged plastic parts, rosewood board, maple neck is finished in a honey lacquer that faithfully reproduces the look of an older Fender. (The 'yellowing' is less dramatic than my '71 Telecaster.) The guitar is equipped with a five-position switch, I was happy to see this, as that would have been an essential mod. for me. I am a die-hard Strataholic, this one is number five. I've owned two others that were sold in hard times. These five stay! The tuners are very nice reproductions of the old pre-F style slotted machines. I use no others. Can't get used to anything without the slot. The fret wire is the old style skinny stuff. My '71 Tele sports jumbo wire.

Sound: 9
I play guitar in a church Praise and Worship group. Before you laugh, realize that we do much contemporary music and this entails all the rock, blues, and pop guitar sounds used for the past thirty years. This '60's reissue came with the vintage type pickups that are sweet and clean, but do not want to drive any distortion unit in my arsenal. As the volume control is lowered from the full up 10, the output drops to the point where the sound cleans up. I run all my guitars through my Fender Hot Rod DeVille (soon to be replaced by a Deluxe, as it is too much amp for the room) with the controls set Main 4, treb 8, mid 6, bass 8. I use a Blues Driver distortion rather than the hot channel as I can't bring the master up past 2 and not injure innocent congregants. For nasty distortion, I'll use my 70's reissue with three Texas Specials installed. But I digress. The thing about this guitar that I love are the two and four pickup positions. These yield the traditional duckier sound, but with a lot of character. Good for real world, not just interesting sound effects. The guitar has single coil hum worse than my other Strats -- it will soon be shielded. My greatest fault lies in the output. It is traditional, so I can't fault Fender. This guitar delivers exactly what it says it will -- vintage sound and feel

Action, Fit, & Finish: N/A
The set-up was excellent, though I personally can't stomach 9's -- I prefer the tactile 'fight' of tens. Also, nines sound thinner and 'rubber band'-like. Pickups were adjusted not to my taste. The finish was flawless, unlike my other Mexican Strat, which had a few unsightly blems in the neck finish -- obvious dings that were lacquered and smoother. This guitar is beautiful. I like the Mexican Strats more than some of the Americans I've owned.

Reliability/Durability: 10
This guitar is obviously new, so I can't say how well it will stand up. My other Mexican Strats have withstood all the abuse playing three services a week (about an hour per service) at my ham-fisted input. My Tele I've owned for almost thirty years and I've refretted it twice (jumbo wire for maximum numbers of grinds). I foresee similar service. My other Mexican-built Fenders have stood up wonderfully. You can fight your way out of a third world revolution swinging a Strat and still be in tune for the next set.

Strap buttons were replaced immediately with Dunlop lockers. I've had too many accidents.

I sue this guitar with a backup since I need a good distorting guitar for about thirty per cent of our material. Aside from that, the tone is awesome and I'd use it constantly

Customer Support: N/A
Fender has always been very user-friendly to me though I've never had to deal with them for a warranty problem. I've owned Fenders for thirty years and have never had anything but wear-related issues, which isn't their fault!

Overall Rating: 10
I've been playing guitar for thirty-two years and I've owned just about everything. I loved Fenders -- the feel, the tone, the reliability, etc. since I first played one. I own a '58 Les Paul for those moods when a dark, lush sound is needed, but the thing is too fragile (and $$$$) these days to use much out. If this guitar were stolen (the Strat) I'd sulk and pout for a month and try to find another one just like it. The only thing I hate about this guitar is the perception that other guitarists have regarding the Mexican built Fenders. Those that own them don't have this problem, only those who haven't played one. These detractors might have something against Mexicans in general, or they merely perceive the price as a gauge of quality. If people wouldn't equate the price with my ability, I wouldn't have any issues.

Submitted by Harry at 01/19/2001 13:05

The 1970 Stratocaster Reissue (Made in Mexico)

Price Paid: US $544.00

Purchased from: Parkway Music, Clifton Park

Features: 9
This guitar was built in Mexico in the Fall 0f 1999. It is, to look at, a virtual recreation of a mid-seventies Strat, complete with F-style tuners, six-screw tremolo, and three-bolt neck with bullet truss rod. It is, of course, a S/S/S pickup config. The stock pickups were binned almost immediately in favor of Texas Specials. The finish is Olympic White and it sports a maple fingerboard (actually, the face of the neck is fretted, there is no separate board like my '68 reissue, and you have the typical skunk stripe.) The radius of the fingerboard is quite round so that just like an original seventies Strat, the bent notes choke above the twelfth fret with a low action. The frets are the old style teeny wire and very nicely finished. The guitar came with a gig bag, but I prefer a hardshell -- which I bought simultaneously.

This guitar had all the original features, so it isn't a very complicated piece. This is just what I expected, so I can't give it a ten for features unless I add that I expected no more.

Sound: 10
This guitar sounded gutless with the stock pickups -- couldn't put out enough output to drive my Blues Driver distortion unit. I play through a Fender Hot Rod DeVille 2X12 with the Blues Driver, a Dano Echo, a DOD Chorus and a Dunlop 95Q Wah. The Texas Specials sounded like duds through a Peavey Bandit, but made perfect sense -- and lovely music -- through the DeVille. This is the hot rig for this guitar and these pickups. The guitar has always had a bit of a dark sound. Acoustically (well, not plugged in) it sounds dead compared to every other Fender I own (Two Tele's, four other Strats.) The wonderful thing about this setup is position 2 and 4 on the selector. 2 is warm and woody -- with the out of phase hollowness -- at a decently acceptable output. It is very useable. Position four is all I use for distorted rhythm work. I kick it over to pos. 5 for solos in this mode. Otherwise, I like pos. 2 for distorted solos -- very smooth and creamy with lots of sustain and voice-like quality.

Action, Fit, & Finish: 6
Set-up was ridiculously low from factory (or store). It played very well though, until bending in the upper registers. I dislike 9's with a passion; to me they are gutless rubber bands. 10's are the ticket for my fist and things got better with the 10's installed and the action raised. This brings me to the problems part of my diatribe. This Strat was the only one I've every bought sight unseen. I ordered it to replace one my ex-wife sold. Long story, let's not go there. My other MIM Strats (2) were and are SUPER, so I had no real qualms. Figures this one would be problematic! The neck was and is weird. The flat area that should be in the neck pocket extend out way further towards the twelfth fret than any other Fender I've ever seen. It looks butt-ugly from the player's standpoint and seemed odd right off the bat. The biggest difficulty was that no matter how low the micro tilt was set; the neck angle was too steep. To raise the action above the frets (really) I had to get P bass bridge piece allens and use these. Then I had to raise the pickups. Finally, I tapered the butt end of the neck so that it sat level in the pocket. This fixed all -- and the acoustic sound got brighter as well. Now the guitar plays and feels great, but still looks funny because of that heli-pad of a flat spot on the back of the neck! For his reason I give the guitar a 6 as everything else was superb.

Reliability/Durability: 10
You can beat your way out of anything with a Strat and still plat your next set without tuning up. I love these things for their reliability. This one gigs three times a week for the past what? Sixteen months? No problemo. The Mexican Fenders are built to a cost but I think this goads the Mexican craftsmen to pour their hearts into these guitars. Hey, guitars are Hispanic in origin; these cats know how to carve!

Customer Support: N/A
Never contacted them. If I can't fix it, they can't either. Spent five years working in a guitar production facility.

Overall Rating: 7
I have been playing thirty one years, I own five Strats, two tele's, a '58 Les Paul, a Player MDS-1, a home-built Mockingbird look-alike, an Explorer, a J-Bass, a Lute, and a partridge in a pear tree. I wish I had had a few to choose from -- just so I could check out the necks, though it plays like a champ now. My favorite thing about this guitar? The way it sounds and the weight and balance. If someone stole it, I'd replace it immediately -- then kill the guy. But that goes for any of my guitars!

Submitted by Harry at 01/23/2001 14:05

Here's a review for what I call the SECRET WEAPON. I install a DiMarzio SDS-1 in the bridge position in many of my Strats. The reason? This pickup is almost as hot as a humbucker and is very P-90-like in sound. It really thickens up the Strat's tone in that position--which can be quite shrill and strident otherwise. This thing ROCKS!

Product Info

Pickup features: Single coil, passive, adjustable pole pieces
Impedance or other specs: I believe the impedance is high for a single coil.
Price Paid: US $59
Purchased from: The Only Guitar Shop, Clifton Park, NY

Instrument

Model of guitar or bass: Fender '68 reissue Stratocaster, maple fingerboard
Position: neck
Pickup being replaced: Stocker
Other pickups on guitar: 2 vintage Strat pickups in neck and mid position
Artists using this pickup: Beats me, unless you count your humble reviewer!
You musical style(s): Blues, rock, contemporary Christian (this ain't your grandfather's church!)
Reason for pickup change: Needed a pickup that could overdrive my HotRod DeVille without having to crank the amp up to pain level.

Sound

Perceived output level: Output is much hotter than stick pickups. I'd say it would stand up to any humbucker.
Tone: Very warm, lots of bass. The pickup sounds good clean as well. It blends nicely with the mid pickup for a ducky out of phase sound that is both hot enough to use live and nice enough to make you want to!
Sonic evaluation: Like I said, this pup is in a '68 MIJ Strat reissue (lovely guitar, by the way) with maple fingerboard. I have a graphtech nut and bridge saddles. The amp is either going to be a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe or DeVille depending on the venue and the size of the ensemble. I play 150 services a year (including one a week that is televised) with the Deluxe. I have two stage guitars, the '68 reissue and a '62 reissue. I found that neither guitar had the snots to overdrive anything, even with a blues driver pedal !!!! When the song required a good grinding distortion, I had a struggle. Many moons back, I owned a '64 Strat with a '69 Tele neck -- and three SDS-1's in it (my power-punk days) so I figured that I'd give this pup another try.

For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: See last response. My old SDS's had four-conductor wiring which (I guess) was some sort of coil tap. It did give a hollower, lighter sound, if I remember correctly. This was twenty years ago! For the contemporary Christian band I play in, this pickup is great. I wouldn't want the guitar fully loaded with them, but in the bridge position, I can easily dial up a good variety of distorted sounds as well as a very nice and useful biting clean sound. (Plus the usual assortment of great Strat tones you know and love.)

Overall Rating

Comments: If this pup was stolen it would mean (gasp) that my prized '68 reissue was gone as well (who steals pup's leaving the guitar?) So after I'd regained the religion I'd lost, I'd have to find another great '68. Then I'd buy another SDS-1 for it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 10 Fantastic value

Submitted by: Harry Pellegrin <stratocasterman@musician.net>

 

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