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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,  from their 50’s and 60’s golden era  – With current prices in excess of the cost of a nice German motor, few of us have access to an original 1955 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 new NAMM Limited Edition, Fender Custom Shop Roasted 57 Journeyman Relic Strat, with a ‘wide fade’ 2 colour sunburst nitro 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 – Highly spec’d including select ash body, 1/4 sawn roasted maple neck, a set of hand wound pick-ups, plus limited edition decal on the rear of the headstock and an engraved ‘limited edition’ neck plate

Journeyman aged character :-   I fully appreciate that not all guitar players buy into the seriously aged vibe that you’ll find on 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 classic burst finish possesses a worn and faded character, with far less scars and wears than many other Relic models  – 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 ash 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

Feel :- Clapton’s original 50’s ‘blackie is the influence behind the ‘soft V’ profile that you’ll find on this Strat  – It tapers gently from .870″ at the top nut end, to .990″ around the 12th fret – A touch slimmer than the classic 10/56 profile found on many 50’s spec Strats, yet a tad fuller than a 60’s spec’d model – So a comfortable amount of girth, that is easy to handle – The character of this profile is that whatever ‘V’ you can feel around the top nut end, is subtle, yet from the 5th fret on-wards it certainly feels far more rounded and similar to that of a C profile – Additionally and thanks to the overall vibe of the aged finish, the neck is spec’d with more of a ‘satin played in’ character, that feels silky smooth and somehow instantly comfortable and familiar – Add a 9.5″ fingerboard radius, plus  a set of 6105 narrow jumbo frets, to allow for a fluid playing action – Slicks licks and party tricks or big controlled blues bends are comfortable and easy to execute – Currently set-up with 10’s but I can edit as required  – So what is 1/4 sawn roasted maple neck/fingerboard ? – 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, of the same species, 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 roasted maple neck

Tonal character :- Pure vintage – spanky – crisp – resonant – lively – highs that glisten – big  piano like lows that are clear and rounded – transparent mids – musical – angelic – These are just a few attributes that I can bestow upon such a Strat, with a vibrant ash body and a set of custom wound, hand wound pick-ups, that provide just a touch of extra output to push the amp, as and when required – As with any good Strat how you play it, plus how the amp is set up will determine exactly what you hear – Yet overall this Strat is full with a musical tonal character, plus shed loads of soul, expression and emotion – It has enough bite to be angry when required, especially when the volume pot is on 10, yet equally it sounds musical and lush, with an angelic flute like character, when you roll off the volume pot just enough – All 5 switch setting possess a well balanced set of voices as you move from neck through to bridge – You’ll discover a chilled out laid back voice that is velvet smooth from the neck pick-up, to more bite and attack for hot country and rock n roll from the bridge pick-up – The Knopfler esq out of phase voices are so infectious – Rich, smooth and clear with plenty of body and quack – More full and rounded from the neck/middle combination and more crisp from the bridge/middle combination

On a clean amp setting it still possesses plenty of character and warmth to inspire – Yet equally only a touch of gain on the amp is required to make it sing, as it starts to show of its true colours – From subtle blues overdriven amp settings, to classic rock territory, with an increased level of gain, this Strat is on home turf – Leave the Strat’s volume pot on 10 for more edge, bite and snap, yet always musical, but for your base tone I suggest you set up base camp with the Strat rolled off to around 6 or 7 – It will still retain the guitars full expressive tonal character, but now a touch softer and chilled out, as it cleans it self up – Then take it back towards 10 as and when you require that additional boost – Hence you and the guitar totally control the amp – As  a result, all the emotion, soul, passion and expression you require is at your finger tips – Funky chord chops, power riffs, walking bass lines with shuffle chords, blues riffs, melodic moody single lines, to scorching solos and this Strat is both exciting and musical – Some Strats tend to lean towards a chilled out soft voice, others towards bright and crisp – This Strat possesses enough power to drive the amp, but not at the expense of warmth and a vocal like tonal character, especially when you use the volume pot as a key part of your playing – Utilise this and your Strat is far from being one dimensional  – It has a big tone that truly inspires – Note the bottom tone pot will adjust the bridge pick-up, so roll off any highs you feel are a touch spiky, as required – As such the first tone pot operates the neck/middle combination

Full spec and details for this Fender Custom Shop Roasted 57 Journeyman Relic Strat :-

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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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