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I heard about a small custom spec’d run of very special Strats that were due to be allocated to the UK – I acquired the full product details, which further wet by appetite – So after a long wait, they are finally here – A Fender Custom Shop 57 Journeyman Relic Strat with a cool, lightly aged, celadon green nitro finish – On paper and indeed by looking at the pics, your initial thoughts might be that it is just another good Strat – Yet these Strats have been custom ordered, with so many upgraded options from the ‘Custom Shop ala carte’ menu, that are chosen to enhance the guitars tonal character and playing performance – Effectively they are as close as you’ll get to a Masterbuilt Strat without the additional financial outlay – I’ll list all the product details below, but just for starters how about a select ash body, rolled fingerboard edges, and a set of hand wound Ancho Poblano pick-ups

Full product details :- 

No Ancho Poblano is not some new up and coming Mexican guitar player you have never heard of – Neither is he the new signing in La Liga for Barcelona – Yet Ancho Poblano is a Mexican phrase,  that indicates some slightly spiced up peppers and maybe that is relevant, as a set of hand wound Ancho Poblano pick-ups sit at the heart of this Strat – They are slightly overwound to deliver the classic vintage voice with a touch of extra spice in them – You can click here and listen to a Fender Custom Shop video clip of these pick-ups in action – It is certainly not a case of Fender trying to re-invent the wheel, or indeed trying to state that this is the finest Strat ever, yet equally it is the first time Fender have taken the vintage flavour and produced a balanced set of pick-ups that are custom wound and voiced, to add a touch of extra spice as you move from the neck position through to the bridge position – All three pick-ups are hand wound by Josefina and kick out just under 6K – Both neck and middle pick-ups utilise alnico 111 staggered pole pieces and magnets, with formvar windings – Whilst the bridge pick-up is spec’d with alnico V magnets, that features flat pole pieces and wound with enamel winding

Tonal quality :- Is it the best Strat you’ll ever hear ? – Maybe, maybe not, but it is very special – I suppose you can’t help comparing it to the big Texas SRV tone, but that does not mean it is just a hot blues box – The bridge pick-up has a nice hint of Tele vibe and twang about to it – Tight and controlled, with a touch more body, balls and attack that you’d often find on a Strat pick-up – On overdriven amp settings, with the Strat’s volume pot on 10, then it just starts to offer the merest hint of that ice pick attack, in a musical way, with some edge and attitude, so just roll off the volume pot a touch, for  more of a controlled and softer voice – The neck pick up is sweet, soft and crisp, with excellent dynamics and overtones – Overall a big beefy voice with presence and clarity – Big piano like lows, just enough mids to add body, plus crisp shimmering highs – The two out of phase voices are infectious – Warm and crisp and again with depth, plus oh so much quack and they sound so musical on both clean and overdriven amp settings

After you’ve played this Strat for a while on overdriven amp settings, then try it out on a clean amp setting you’ll find it is so succulent, warm and musical with an angelic quality about it  – On overdriven amp settings make sure you control the amp from the guitar and use the Strat’s volume pot – This will ensure you explore the guitars full vocabulary and in doing so find it is loaded with soul, emotion and expression – Subtle changes on the volume pot deliver a more chilled out voice that retains all the guitars expressive qualities – Playing all 5 switch settings, tweak the volume pot, playing different styles, both on chord work, riffs, licks and solos, through clean or overdriven amp settings and you only start to see, or hear, what is so special about this Strat – Even played unplugged you’ll discover a lively acoustic tone with plenty of depth and resonance to it – I always say it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ring and this Strat rings like a bell that has been struck by a big clanger – Fender don’t tell you all the secrets that are behind the Ancho Poblano pick ups, but you can hear it is something special – Like ‘Mama’s favourite recipe’ the magic ingredients are in there, be if I told you what they were then I’d have to shoot you

Journeyman aged vibe :- The ultra thin celadon green finish is authentically aged to reflect around 60 years of regular use, so it captures the mellow and faded character of a guitar that has seen its fair share of action, yet has equally been cared for, so used but not abused – So plenty of lacquer checking, yet with far less dings, nicks and worn patches, compared to many other relic finishes – If you don’t like the vibe of a seriously aged finish, the Journeyman approach might suite you – At least you can buy it, then play it, without having to give it the kids glove treatment – Furthermore, wood is porous, as such for a new gloss finish to stay clean and shiny for many years, a thicker base coat is required to support additional layers of a nitro finish  – However this approach tends to damped the guitars natural resonance – It is generally accepted that a thin finish, allows the guitars to breathe, so as to enhance its natural vibrant acoustic properties  – This is the positive aspect of the aged approach, in that a far thinner base coat and nitro finish is required, as a perfect gloss finish is not the ultimate goal – All the vintage spec’d hardware is lightly aged accordingly, including the control knobs and switch tip

Playing performance :- The feel of the maple neck is pure vintage, with a very soft V profile – Certainly less V pronounced than many 50’s Strats and almost with more of a round  C profile – It retains a sensible level of girth, but certainly not as chunky as many 50’s Strat’s, yet neither is it skinny – The thin nitro honey tint finish has been cut back for that dirty worn character – So along with rolled fingerboard edges it feels played in from day one, so instantly comfortable and familiar – Set-up with a set of 10’s, plus a fluid playing action that responds to a light touch, that  allows you to easily handle a few slick licks, thanks to a 9.5″ fingerboard radius – Whilst string bending is effortless thanks to a set of medium jumbo frets  – Overall a guitar that feels comfortable and easy to handle

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Every guitar in stock at Guitars4You has been personally selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention paid to the set-up and playing performance – Every sale, phone call, mail order transaction or e-mail is handled my me – Mark Hopkin, the owner, Managing Director, cleaner and coffee maker (Jo, my wife helps with the coffee) – A 35 year journey has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars – This reflects in every aspect of our business.

I have no desire to run an Amazon style 'click to buy' guitar shop, that lacks any soul or passion, or indeed to fill a showroom with a selection of dirty, shop soiled or dusty guitars that are in need of a set-up.

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