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Fender introduced a slab rosewood fingerboard to the Strat towards the end of 1959 and it stayed with us until late 1962 – This 3 year period produced one of Fender’s most sought after vintage guitars and even today it has become the bench mark by which many Strats are judged – Equally the Fender Custom Shop still pay tribute to this era with many of their finest creations – With that in mind can I introduce you to this Fender Custom Shop 1960 Relic Strat with a cool ‘aged fiesta red’ finish that is part of the 2017 collection  – Custom spec’d with many upgraded features than can only enrich both the guitars playing performance as well as its reputation

Aged finish :- The aged relic vibe is not for everyone, yet equally I feel a shiny new gloss finish, on what is after all a replica of a 57 year old guitar, somehow looks to pure – Maybe the battered and bruised approach of a serious Relic Strat is a touch to far for many, so a light relic approach is somewhat of a sensible compromise and this is effectively the aged character of this Strat – Plenty of lacquer checking but the wear and nicks are far more subtle than you’ll find on many other Relic Strats – A thin nitro finish sits on a light weight and highly resonant alder body which allows the guitar to breath and ring – Choose a shiny gloss option and  a thicker base coat is required to prevent the finish from sinking in to the body, which in turn strangles the guitars vibrant acoustic character, so this explains why so many players favour the aged vibe – It looks played yet cared for, with all the hardware, scratchplate, knobs and covers lightly aged accordingly to enrich that played in character – Of course the other big plus factor of an aged finish is that you can play it on a regular basis without giving it the kids gloves approach – So buy it and play it as often as you can, then fully appreciate it for what it is and that is a mighty fine Strat – Plenty of character but not abused

Playing performance :- A 1/4 sawn maple neck supports a 6mm, AAA grade, slab rosewood fingerboard that has a smooth, 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 .820″ at the top nut end, then gently fattens out to .974″ 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 nitro tinted finish has been cut back for that fully ‘played in’ from day one vibe, hence the ‘dirty/worn’ character – To enrich the classic vintage feel, you’ll find modern appointments include a 9.5″ fingerboard radius along with a set of chunky 6100 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 1960 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 5.75K, with a reverse wound/reverse polarity middle pick-up at 5.90k and a slightly overwound bridge pick-up coming in at 6.06K – 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

Now on the amp add either more subtle gain for a blues vibe, or more gain to take you into classic rock/blues territory – Then 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

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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 journey, now in excess of 40 years, 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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