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The Fender Custom Shop team have acquired a well deserved reputation for producing fine vintage replicas from their own golden era – Yet equally, as the name suggests, the boutique nature of a Custom Shop allows Fender to create a run of highly desirable special Limited Edition models, that retain a vintage flavour, but maybe did not actually make the catalogues in the 50’s or 60’s – So how about this classic Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition 56 Fat Roasted Strat with an ‘aged desert sand’ relic finish  – Released as a highly spec’d model at the 2017 Summer Namm Show as part of a limited edition model , hence you’ll find a Limited Edition engraved neck plate, plus a 30th anniversary decal on the rear of the headstock

So what is Roasted Alder and Roasted Maple ? – Within the boutique market place, various luthiers and builders have utilised roasted woods on select models – Does it offer any superior tonal quality then I’m not so sure – Two pieces of quality wood never sound the same anyway, so the finer nuances of tone between the same wood is a matter of opinion and taste – However many will tell you about the superior stability of a maple neck, whilst others will tell you about the improved vibrant acoustic qualities of an alder body – One plus point for many with regards to a roasted maple neck is that they require no finish – Some might utilise a touch of oil rubbed in to the finish, but with no finish at all you get that ‘played in’ from day one experience – This Strat features a select roasted alder body as well as a select birdseye AA grade roasted maple neck/fingerboard

Full spec and details regarding this Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition 56 Fat Roasted Strat :- 

Playing that chunky 10/56V neck profile :-  Is it big compared to other Strats ? – Yes – Is it to big to handle ? – No – Does it enrich the tone ?- Probably a Yes for this one – It will certainly help – Even with a  set of 10’s you can make that big lump of wood vibrate and that will be further increased with a set of 11’s – The more vibration you can get out of the maple neck, as well as the select body, then the bigger the tone – I certainly think if you play a big neck with a set of vintage frets and fingerboard radius and a high-ish action, then yes you’ll find it harder to play and certainly far less forgiving  – Yet thanks to a set of jumbo 6100 frets, a 9.5″ fingerboard radius, plus set up with a well balanced fluid action, then it will respond to a light touch, hence it is far more easy to handle than some will fear – As such cascading licks and tricks can be played with ease – Those chunky 6100 frets allow you to full of those big pentatonic blues bends with ease, then add control to your vibrato – I find you quickly get used to it and before long you don’t notice the size of the neck, but you will appreciate that big tone – It instantly feels played in from day one, thanks to the ‘dirty worn’ vibe – In short it feels familiar and user friendly – It actually measures a tad slimmer than the chunky early 50’s Nocaster neck profile that is also found on early ’54’ Strats, yet measures a touch fatter than the classic 60’s neck profiles – .915″ around the top nut end and gently fattens out to 1.00″ around the 12th fret

Aged character :-  Like Marmite, the aged vibe is very much a love or hate affair, so can I assume that many ‘hate fans’ have probably  already signed off – From a visual point of view, the aged ultra thin relic finish, captures the vintage mojo of a Strat that has spent several years playing every juke box joint north of Watford – The great benefit of an ultra thin nitro finish is tone and resonance – On such an aged finish, Fender utilise a far thinner base coat, which in turn allows the guitar to ‘breathe’ – Even played unplugged they are noticeable more ‘lively’ – I fully appreciate that certain customers do not like the aged vibe  and I fully respect that view, yet as far as Fender Custom Shop Guitar sales go, aged finishes are in the majority, by some considerable distance – So for all the great attributes that goes with the vintage mojo regarding looks, feel, tone and resonance then read on and remember you can buy it, and play it without having to give it the ‘kids gloves’ treatment   – So in short it possesses that played in character of an old Strat, without the used and abused vibe

Tonal character :-  On many 50’s based Strats, with a maple neck, you’ll experience more of a bright transparent character, with extra snap and attack – Not sure if it is down to the roasted maple neck and alder body, or indeed the influence of the hand wound Fat 60’s pick-ups, but this Strat somehow produces more of a lush and refined voice – Still plenty of crisp clear qualities, but somehow smooth like double whipped cream – Maybe more of the Gilmour ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ voice – A set of hand wound Custom Shop Fat 60’s pick-ups sit at the heart of the engine room – Vintage flavoured, yet slightly overwound, to add just a hint of sizzle when all controls are around 10 – They still retain  the magical vintage attributes of a Strat from the 50’s golden era – Big piano like lows that are rich, sparkling and rounded – Sizzling clear highs that are warm and smooth, with just enough warm mids to beef up the overall character – Overall and it is a very rounded and smooth voice, with percussive snap and attack, plus crisp musical highs  – The neck pick-up delivers a clear, yet chilled out voice with the volume pot rolled off a touch, or you’ll find more of a percussive attack, for those walking bass lines and shuffle rhythm styles, when on 10 – The two ‘out of phase’ tones are totally infectious – Crisp, clear and full with more depth and body on the neck/middle combination and more or a crisp snap on the bridge/middle combination – You’ll hear almost a full Tele like twang, with a hint of musical bite, from the bridge pick-up, with no shortage of depth and body, so ideal for power chords, riffs and scorching solos

This Strat is loaded with soul, expression and emotion, so to maximise these attributes I suggest you utilise the volume pot accordingly – A great base camp is to set it up with the volume pot around the 6 mark, were it will handle most applications, be it the amp set up with  a clean voice, or indeed an overdriven amp setting – Then roll the volume pot back towards 10, as and when you have a statement to make that requires that additional boost with a touch of edge to it – On more subtle overdriven amp settings this approach allows you to clean up the voice for more of a laid back approach – Or on hi-gain amp settings it will allow you to roll off the gain for a cleaner voice that still sings, but less saturated, then take it back towards 10 for more of a full on approach – Hence you and the guitar control the amp and every level of expression that goes with it – It allows you to try subtle yet effective variations so for example a subtle overdriven amp setting with the Strat on 10, sounds different to a hi-gain overdriven amp setting and the Strat rolled off to around 6 or 7 – So all the Strat snap and attack on 10, or more chilled and lush as you wind it back down to around 8 or less – Whatever magic that can be found in some old vintage Strats, the Custom Shop team sure know how to  capture it and deliver it into a new package – This is a very special Strat and should give years of unadulterated pleasure to any guitar player

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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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