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The yearly NAMM Show in LA allows guitar builders to launch a host of new models – Yet for the Fender Custom Shop team, it is more a case of releasing a run of highly spec’d Limited Edition models, that pay homage to the classic guitars from their 50’s and 60’s golden era  – With current prices in excess of the cost of a nice used motor, few of us have access to an original 1963 Strat, but thankfully the guys at the Fender Custom Shop facility pay tribute to guitars from the golden era – Coupled with a few modern features that are designed to enhance the playing performance, this Strat captures the mystical magic of a good old ‘un – So let me introduce you to a highly spec’d Fender Custom Shop NAMM Limited Edition 63 Journeyman Relic Strat, with a cool ‘aged fiesta red’  finish  – Nostalgia will always ensure we’ll find something of interest in an old original model, but your hands, ears and indeed your wallet, will appreciate all the attributes that this Custom Shop Strat possesses

Limited Edition upgrade features include  :-  Limited Edition engraved neck plate  Hand wound 60/63 pick-ups  AA grade figured birds eye maple neck + AAA grade rosewood lam fingerboard  Vintage style clay dot inlays  Limited Edition logo embroidered on the inner case lid

Aged vibe :- I fully appreciate that not all guitar players buy into the seriously aged vibe of many  Custom Shop Strats, so with that in mind, a Journeyman nitro finish takes more of a  lightly aged approach, that some might say is more authentic – This ‘aged olympic white’ finish possesses a faded worn character  – You’ll find no shortage of lacquer checking , yet overall it receives far less dings and dints, with very little in the way of a worn finish that reveals the alder body – Aged, but not abused, might be a fair remark, therefore the Journeyman finish is a far more subtle approach to finding a Strat with some played in character – Hence you can  buy it and play it, without having to give it the kids gloves treatment, then getting upset regarding any nicks and grazes that it will inevitably acquire – It is generally accepted that a thin base coat and finish allows the guitar to ‘breathe’ so as to maximise the guitars natural vibrant character and this is a big plus factor of the aged approach

Playing performance :- A lightly figured birds eye AA grade maple neck supports AAA grade, lam rosewood fingerboard that has a dark and even grained character – The neck is spec’d with the popular 60’s Oval C profile with just an extra ounce of meat on it – It starts of at .799″ at the top nut end, then gently fattens out to .947″ around the 12th fret – This is a classic profile that has proved popular and indeed become the bench mark throughout the guitar world – Not to fat or thin, with just enough girth to enrich the tone, yet feel comfortable and easy to handle – The thin medium tint nitro finish has been cut back just enough, for more of a satin vibe, that captures more of that desirable  played in character – To enrich the classic vintage feel, you’ll find modern appointments include a 9.5″ fingerboard radius along with a set of chunky 6105 frets, both of which allow for a slick action and effortless string bending with no choking out – Some may prefer a slinky set-up that only requires a light touch to burn up and down the fingerboard and show of a few chosen licks- Some may prefer more of a sensible medium action that allows you to dig in to those big blues bends – Of course I can adjust the set-up to suit your own taste – Either way the modern features deliver a user friendly playing performance that still retains the classic vintage feel

Tonal character of a Fender Custom Shop 1963 Journeyman Relic Strat :- The tone starts with the  vibrant acoustic nature of a select alder body – To me, the first point of any evaluation is that unplugged acoustic test drive – At this point you might also be checking out how it feels, yet if it don’t ring then walk away – This Strat has a pure vintage character with all the snap, clarity, warmth, presence, responsive attack and of course that spanky nature that an old Strat is known for, thanks to a set of  hand wound and custom voiced 60/63 pick-ups – The neck pick-up is custom wound with less output at 5.76K, with a reverse wound/reverse polarity middle pick-up at 5.98k and a slightly overwound bridge pick-up coming in at 6.17K – Hence a musical and well balanced set of pick-ups across all settings on the 5 way switch – First of all check out the two awesome out of phase tones – Plenty of quack and body with more depth and warmth from the neck/middle combination and more of a crisp flavour from the bridge/middle combination – Both are angelic and so infectious, so no thin weedy voices here – The neck pick-up is succulent, rich and warm with crisp highs, plenty of depth and just enough muscle in the mid range – Roll of the volume and/or tone pot for more of a chilled out character – In contrast a bridge pick-up on a Strat can sometimes be found ‘wanting’ just a touch, yet this custom voiced bridge pick-up has just enough muscle to add depth, yet retain both its warmth and bite – With the volume and tone pot on 10 it possesses enough bite to attack, yet avoids going into ice pick territory, but roll off the volume. or indeed the tone pot, just a touch, for more of a controlled voice – Yes this Strat is spec’d with a tone pot for the neck/middle pick-up, plus now you’ll also find a tone pot for the bridge pick-up

Only a touch of gain is required on the amp to make this Strat sing and take you into traditional blues territory – Whilst adding more gain will take you into classic rock/blues territory – For your base tone leave the Strat’s volume pot on/around 6 or 7 – The guitar still retains its full expressive qualities and vintage character, but now you and the guitar control the amp – At this stage you’ll find more of a chilled out character with less gain, so now, just like a good singer wanting to deliver a touch extra, wind the volume pot back towards 10 for more bite, attack and gain – Hence more emotional control, soul and expression directly at your finger tips – For blues based players you’ll hear that percussive snap and attack for SRV style shuffle patterns, walking bass lines and chord stabs with a succulent musical richness in the neck position – Whilst the bridge position has enough in it to kick dirt, yet equally it can be tamed for a softer approach  – I played around with different gain settings to see how it would respond and whatever you threw at it, it was not short of soul, emotion and expression – Less gain on the amp, but add an overdrive pedal, with the guitar volume pot on 10, or 6/7 – Likewise a hi-gain amp with the Strat volume roll off – All approaches delivered variations of gain and sustain, yet all effective in different ways – The finer nuances off the tone and gain are there for you to explore but the key factors is the guitar is responsive to you, the amp and how you play it

Full spec and details :-

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Guitars4You Offers Reliability, Integrity and Expertise

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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