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A showroom visit from the UK’s Custom Shop product specialist allowed me to hand pick a few more Strats for stock at the old price – ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ring’ is a phrase I often quote, so any Strat I choose for stock has to possess a vibrant acoustic voice – Of course it has to possess a certain aesthetic appeal, as well delivery something special with regards to the playing performance and a vintage flavoured tonal character – All in all this Strat passed all the relevant criteria – So let me introduce you to a new Fender Custom Shop 1960  Relic Strat, with a lake placid blue finish, that reveals a faded  and aged character, to reflect a few tough years spent working in  various blues bars – Highly spec’d throughout to deliver the vintage tonal character we so adore – Whilst a few custom tweaks are chosen to enhance the playing performance, including rolled fingerboard edges, a 9.5″ fingerboard radius, plus a set of medium jumbo fret

Aged character :- I fully appreciate that not all guitar players buy into the seriously aged vibe that you’ll find on certain  Custom Shop Strats – With that in mind, this Lake Placid Blue Relic finish takes more of a  lighter aged approach, that some might say is more authentic – The vintage spec’d hardware is also lightly aged accordingly to complete the package  – Aged, but not abused, might be a fair remark, but it still retains plenty of that played in character – As such 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

Playing performance :- A one piece maple neck supports a AAA grade, ‘slab’ rosewood fingerboard that possesses a dark plus even grained character – The neck is spec’d with the popular 60’s vintage Oval C profile  – It starts of at .815″ at the top nut end, then gently fattens out to .940″ around the 12th fret – This is the classic 60’s 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 feels comfortable and easy to handle – The thin nitro finish has been cut back to just enough, to remove the ‘sticky feel’ of a new guitar, so now more of a satin ‘played in’ character, with ‘rolled’ fingerboard edges – To enrich the classic vintage feel, you’ll find modern appointments include a 9.5″ fingerboard radius, along with a set of medium jumbo frets, both of which allow for a slick action, plus 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, yet it still retains the feel of a good old ‘un

Tonal character :- Played acoustically you can instantly hear this Strat possesses a big vibrant voice – You can actually feel and hear it ring –  At  the heart of the tone department, you’ll find a set of well balanced Custom Shop pick-ups, with a combination that was initially created by Masterbuilder Greg Fessler – Hence a lush sounding ’69’ pick-up in the neck position that measures 5.09K – A spanky crisp Fat 50’s sits in the middle position that measures 6.06K, whilst a hotter Texas Special in the bridge position, kicks out 6.10K  – All designed to offer a selection of well balanced voices across all 5 switch settings  – The combination of a vibrant alder body, a slab rosewood fingerboard, plus a calibrated set of custom wound pick-ups, ensures that authentic 60’s based Strat tone is delivered, with  warm transparent mids, delicious deep and rounded lows that are crystal clear, plus warm sparkling highs that glisten – Stroke the strings for a more tender voice, or with more gust for that snap and attack that makes a Strat so infectious – This pick up combination covers the classic rock and blues tones of Hendrix, through to the driving Texas shuffles and lead work of SRV, or the hot blues work of Rory Gallagher- It can be succulent, warm and silky, or deliver more edge and bite, as required – The 69 pick-up in the neck position, complete with grey bobbins is straight from the Hendrix era – Probably the least powerful of all the Fender single coil pick-ups, but it is not about power – Its about the tender silky smooth voices it can produce with warm sparkling clarity – Just think Little Wing at its finest – The bridge pick-up is hotter and adds guts to power chords and riffs, or enough bite and girth to allow solos to sing and scream – Many players don’t use the middle position on its own very often, put the tone of the middle pick-up is essential to aid those two ‘out of phase’ tones,  so you’ll hear plenty of quack that makes them sound so infectious – Warmer from the neck/middle combination and more crisp from the middle/bridge combination

This Strat is totally laden with soul, emotion and expression – So to maximise the guitars expressive character, utilise the master volume and tone control, which function on all 3 pick-ups and all 5 switch settings – Set up the amp with some overdrive and initially the Strat on 10 – Now roll back the volume pot until you find that magical sweet spot, that is more chilled and laid back – You’ll still experience the Strats true colours and expressive qualities, but now you’ll have a cleaner voice – This can be your base camp which will now allow you to wind the Strat back towards 10, as and when you require more bite, edge and gain – Almost a built in turbo boost option – Subtle yet effective tweaks on the volume and indeed the tone pot, add so much expression to this Strat – A plus point of the middle and bridge pick-ups now wired to the tone pot is that on overdriven amp settings, if you find it a touch fizzy, especially on the bridge pick-up, a subtle roll off on the pot will produce a warmer voice that is more tender – Hence either option is there as and when required – From subtle  blues overdriven amp settings, to full on overdriven amp settings, this Strat allows you to fine tune the voice to suit – Hence as I mentioned earlier, it is loaded with soul, emotion and expression and it is part of the reason that a £2995 price tag can be fully justified

Full spec and details :- 

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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 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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