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The yearly NAMM Show in LA gives guitar builders the chance to show case new products, along with tweaks to existing models – Maybe for Fender it is not a case of launching a new revolutionary guitar, as it is more about offering another variation around a classic design – Some may recall the Ancho Poblano Strat, as well as the El Diablo Strat, from recent shows – Well now I can introduce you to the Fender Custom Shop Tomatillo Journeyman Relic Strat – A limited edition model that was only available to order via the NAMM Show – It is not based on a specific year, like a ’54’ or ’57’  Strat, but it certainly is a 50’s flavoured model, with boutique upgrades, for players who require more than just a vintage flavoured guitar – Hence a little extra to embellish the playing performance, with a little bit more spice from the single coil pick-ups – So welcome to the highly spec Tomatillo Strat with a cool ‘super faded aged shell pink’ that has been lightly aged to reflect the vibe of a good old ‘un

Full spec and details :- 

Journeyman Relic Finish :-  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 – The cool ‘super faded aged shell pink’ finish possesses a worn and faded character – Almost has a dirty white character to it, due to the washed out faded nature of the shell pink finish   – 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 alder 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 – The maple fingerboard shows plenty of signs of wear, whilst the rear of the neck has more of a silky smooth satin played in character

Playing that chunky 10/56V neck profile :-  Is it big compared to many 60’s vintage based 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 alder body, then the bigger the tone – I certainly think if you play a big neck with a set of vintage frets and fingerboard radius, plus a highish action, then yes you’ll find it harder to play and certainly far less forgiving  – Yet thanks to a set of chunky Jescar 57110 frets, along with 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 57110 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 feels played in from day one, thanks to the thin nitro finish having been ‘cut back’ a touch to deliver a silky smooth satin feel  – 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 – .870″ around the top nut end and gently fattens out to 1.02″ around the 12th fret

Tonal character :– Spec’d with a set of ‘Tomatillo’ pick-ups – Hand wound and custom voiced for this Strat, that features a blend of components from the 50’s and 60’s models – Early Strats, up to around the 63/64 era, featured pick-ups wound with formvar windings, but during the 50’s it was common to utilise alnico 111 or V magnets  – The Tomatillo pick-ups feature formvar windings, but not with a set of alnico 11 magnets, with just enough windings to add a touch of spice, but retain the responsive classic vintage tonal character – Alnico 11 magnets will deliver a smooth voice with warm and crisp highs  – On clean amp settings you’ll hear that all pick-up settings deliver plenty of character, so they can stay clean without sounding bland – Warm and rich with funky crisp snap and attack, or chilled and smooth as required – You only need to add a touch of overdrive to make this Strat sing and as such you’ll find you can quickly find its sweet spot – Utilise the volume pot ‘rolled off’ a touch, around the 6 or 7 mark, for more of a chilled out approach, with the gain level  now reduced – It still retains the guitars true colours and lively character, but wind the volume pot back towards 10 when you require more gain and a little extra bite to make your licks stand out – This approach adds more soul, emotion and expression, but overall this Strat is responsive to you and how you play it

As you add a touch more gain and you’ll realise it has just enough muscle to drive the amp/pedal, but never sounding like a party animal – The mids are more scooped than hot, but never thin – It retains the character of a good old vintage model, but with just enough windings to add some spice when required – Add more gain as required and still utilise the volume pot between 5/6 or 7 as required, for more of a laid back approach – Then wind back towards 10 when you require a touch of extra boost/bite – Almost the turbo boost option, with the volume pot always totally in control of the level of gain that you require, for more expression – If you choose a hi-gain amp setting, then utilise the volume and tone pot a touch, if required to trim down any excessive fizzy highs, but leave everything on 10 if such a voice suits your needs – The bridge pick-up possesses enough body, so it never sounds thin, but it can bite, in a musical way as required, with plenty of snap and attack – The neck pick-up delivers all the SRV character, with big piano lows, crisp highs and clear mids that sounds totally alive and allows you to morph between smooth/warm or funky as required – Don’t forget a pair of infectious out of phase tones from position 2 + 4 on the 5 way switch – The bridge/middle combination is more crisp/funky, whilst the neck/middle combination is more chilled and sweet, but both possess enough depth, to never sound thin or weedy – You can almost stay on either of the out of phase switch settings for many a happy hour – The master volume and tone pot operates on all 5 switch settings, so quick and easy to trim as required, so you stay in total control of your voice

Blend pot :-  A quick and simple mod that is becoming more and more popular – The bottom pot is normally the tone pot, but since we have the master volume and tone pot option, we can now wire this bottom pot as a blend pot for more variation – With the 5 way switch down, hence the bridge pick-up selected and the blend pot turned down to 0, then the bridge pick-up stays on its own in the traditional manner – Now wind the blend pot up to 10 as required, but use all the settings in-between for subtle yet effective variations, as you now add the neck pick-up in to the mix – It effectively fattens up the bridge pick-up voice – When the blend pot is on 10, you now have both neck/bridge on together, as per the middle switch setting on a Tele – A very effective mod that adds a touch more, without taking away any of the traditional vintage character – Simple to use, or leave alone as required

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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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