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A recent visit from my Custom Shop product specialist allowed me to hand pick a few guitars for stock – Hence the arrival of a new Fender Custom Shop Postmodern Strat with a lush closet ‘aged white blonde’ finish, hence some of that Dave Gilmour’s Strat character from the late 50’s – Even more so if you acquired an anodised gold scratchplate and changed it accordingly – If you detest the more seriously aged vibe of many Custom Shop models, maybe this one has your name on it – Complete with case, certificate, Custom Shop leather strap plus fully warranty – And yes it has been on my bench for a check up and set-up – This Postmodern Strat takes the essence of a guitar from the late 50’s vintage era, then adds a few subtle, yet effective tweaks, to enhance the guitars performance – In a similar way to adding a few hot rod options to improve the performance and handling of a classic car from the 50’s and 60’s era – Last of the 2017 models at the pre price increase, so ignore the list price of £3249 and I hope you find  £2490 is more favourable

So what is a Postmodern Strat ? With nearly 40 years of experience behind me in the guitar business, it is so easy to get blasé about marketing claims regarding new products from any of the big name brands in our trade – After all, how many times can you reinvent the wheel – So when I first heard Fender claim that the  Postmodern Strat is ‘a thoroughly contemporary take on  a time honoured classic’ you can’t help but think, seen it, heard it, played it, not for me, so let’s move – Maybe in various formats, Fender have tried to blend attributes of an old Strat with features found on a new Strat, yet consistently failed to sell them in any quantity – Granted some faired better than others, but they have always represented a small part of Fender’s sale revenue – I have to say that maybe this time they have cracked the code – I’ve sold hundreds of Strats over the years and whilst I’ve sold plenty that can’t match the performance qualities of this Strat, they are not to many that can compete with it, let alone beat it – If we all adopted a blind fold test, this would be a very popular guitar – We can all be stuck in our ways regarding changes to a classic design – Yet remember the 2 following points  1) many of the modern tweaks on the Postmodern Strat can already be found on select Custom Shop models and even original 50’s and 60’s vintage models, that are owned and played by our hero’s  2) Let’s assume the Strat had never yet been invented and today saw the launch of a new guitar, that was going to take the guitar world by storm, then I can assure you that this new Strat would possess more of the spec and features of Postmodern Strat, than the 50’s and 60’s models that were released so many years ago  – I’m knocked out by it  – Don’t get me wrong as I’m not saying all vintage flavoured Strats are  inferior, but I am saying check out a Postmodern Strat when you try a vintage flavoured Strat, then judge for yourself which suits you best – Call me a cynical grumpy old git who is set in my ways, but I’m not easily hooked on new concoctions in the guitar world, yet the Postmodern Strat has a hell of a lot of things going for it, certainly with regards to the playing performance –   Let me leave you with some comments I’ve borrowed from the Fender Custom Shop web site regarding the Fender Postmodern Strat :- This Strat is elegantly designed with a reappraisal of modern assumptions – It features a select and light weight ash body with a comfortable contoured heel, a highly figured AA grade  quarter sawn maple neck with a  ’63’ C profile, a fast compound radius fingerboard that gently tapers from 9.5″ to 12″ – 22 narrow/jumbo 6105 frets – Then a 5 way switch to select a set of hand wound Dual Mag custom wound and custom voiced single coil pick-ups, with a RWRP middle pick-up

Aged vibe :- I fully appreciate that not all guitar players buy into the seriously aged vibe that you’ll find on so many  Custom Shop Strats, so with that in mind, a Lush Closet nitro finish takes the  barely aged approach – You’ll find no shortage of lacquer checking, whilst the ‘aged white blonde’ finish is cut back a touch for more of a faded vibe, but overall it receives barely any hints of a  ding, dint or wear – Used, but not abused, might be a fair remark, therefore the Lush Closet finish is a far more subtle approach to finding a Strat that still possesses some vintage character, so as not to look ‘sterile’ – 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 Lush Closet approach – You can almost see hints of the lacquer ‘sinking’ so a feature of a thin pre-CBS finish

Full spec and details for this Custom Shop Postmodern Journeyman Relic Strat –

Feel/playing performance :-  Whatever magic is in this Strat can’t be seen – You feel it – The classic ’63’ Oval C profile instantly feels comfortable, familiar and very much old school from the vintage era – It is that rounded profile that is certainly not fat, yet it possesses an extra ounce of depth to it, so as to retain the feel and character of a Strat from the golden era – Certainly nothing new or modern on this score, as it possesses that classic and renowned feel that is pure vintage flavoured – Spec’d with a thin nitro finish with a light honey tint – Maybe next you’ll notice a more comfortable contoured heel by the neck/body join – Hence it feels more comfortable when you are playing above the 12th fret – For more of a slick playing performance you’ll find a set of narrow/jumbo 6105 frets, along with a 9.5″ to 12″ compound radius – I don’t think you can really see this gradual taper from 9.5″ to 12″ yet when you bend the strings above the 5th and 12th fret it feels slinky and effortless, with no choking out – The 9.5″ radius always feels comfortable for chord work around the top nut end, but many players like Eric Johnson, have preferred a flatter radius as you move up the fingerboard – You can still dig in for big blues bends but for more intricate licks this Strat is as slick as they come – Overall the tweaks are subtle yet very effective – It is  a great approach from Fender, whereby if they presented you with this Strat without all the marketing hype, you would think it is just a great vintage flavoured Strat, as most of the modern tweaks are subtle or invisible – Yet they are essential as to why this Strat plays so well – Vintage and slick in one package is possible and Fender have delivered – Great praise from me on this one

Tonal character – The tone starts with the  vibrant acoustic nature of a select ash 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 possesses the vintage character of a good early 60’s Strat, with all the snap, clarity, warmth, presence and responsive attack, along with that spanky character that many of us search long and hard for – All delivered by a set of hand wound, custom voiced Dual Mag single coil pick-ups – Still pure vintage flavoured but with a slight custom tweak, so different alnico slug magnets for the E, B and G strings, to the D, A and E strings for an improved response between plain and wound strings (hence Dual Mag for 2 magnets) – The neck pick-up is custom wound with a reading of 5.46K, whilst the reverse wound/reverse polarity middle pick-up comes in at 5.76k – Finally the bridge pick-up is wound with a little extra juice to it and comes in at 5.91K – 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, then 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

Grease bucket tone mod – A simple mod on the lower tone pot, that many players now utilise on their own guitars, that is subtle yet effective on overdriven amp settings – As you roll off the highs on your tone pot, it still preserves the same level of gain on the amp – So it still acts as a tone pot, but not to the detriment of gain and sustain you require – As such if you find at times that the bridge pick-up is a touch to fierce, with more bite than you require, so you want a softer voice, that sounds more in control, but still require plenty of gain and sustain, this simple mod will work in your favour

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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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