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The winter NAMM Show in LA always allows guitar companies to introduce a selection of new models – For the Fender Custom Shop team it is not so much about trying to re-invent the wheel, so more a case of offering a number of highly spec’d limited edition models, that are still vintage flavoured, yet modern tweaks will enhance the way the guitar plays and performs – Many such tweaks can be found on the custom spec’d models of our guitar hero’s and it is such features that the Custom Shop team will offer within their highly spec’d Limited Edition models – So please read below, my evaluation report, for this Fender Custom Shop 65 Heavy Relic Strat, with a seriously aged ‘super faded lake placid blue’ finish on an ash body  – No apologies for it looking as though it has been played, for many an hour, in a host of smokey juke box joints around the globe – If you like the ‘played in’ vibe then this Strat could well be heading your way – Note the Limited Edition decal on the rear of the headstock, along with a Limited Edition engraved neck plate

Feel/playing performance :-  Whatever magic is in this Strat regarding the playing experience can’t be seen – You feel it – The classic 65 Large C profile instantly feels comfortable, familiar and very much old school from the vintage era, with an extra ounce of meat on it  – It can’t be considered fat, but it possesses a touch more meat than the regular 60’s C profile  – Spec’d with a thin honey tint nitro finish, that has been cut back for that instant ‘played in from day one’ vibe, along with the ‘dirty/worn’ character – To further enhance a slick playing performance, you’ll find a set of narrow/jumbo 6105 frets, along with a 9.5″ to 12″ compound radius – You don’t actually see any gradual taper from 9.5″ to 12″ but as you bend the strings above the 5th and 12th frets you should notice it feels slinky and effortless to play – The 9.5″ radius always feels comfortable for chord work around the top nut end, but many players like Eric Johnson and Kenny Wayne Shepherd often utilise a flatter radius – 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 neat tweak from the Custom Shop team, so vintage and slick in one package

Tonal character :- This is pure lush, with a smooth ‘crushed velvet’ character that glistens with sparkling highs, big clear  ‘piano’ lows and transparent mids – The hand wound ’65’ pick-ups are almost unique to this year, with  vibrant copper/red polysol windings on alnico V magnets and the first appearance of the grey base – They became the hallmark of the  SRV Lenny Strat and a 65/66 Strat that  Hendrix favoured  – They are loaded with character and expression,  which is more about tonal quality and not power – You’ll still experience the snap and attack that a good Strat is renowned for, but this delivers it in a luxurious way – Even before you plug this Strat into your favourite amp, the unplugged experience will confirm that this hand select ash body has a strong vibrant voice – As I often quote, ‘it don’t mean  a thing if it ain’t got that ring’ – So if it sounds like a wet cardboard box, then maybe it is best to pass on it – The vibrant acoustic voice ensures that only a quick test drive, through your amp, is required to reveal that it is loaded with soul and expression that shows a melodic character with a bell like chime – Some Strats might possess more bite and balls, couple with a hint of attitude – This Strat is pure lush and as such more of a tender character – On hi-gain amp settings and the Strat on 10, you’ll find it has a hint of fizz about it, so just roll off the volume pot, just a touch, until you find that luxurious sweet spot, that still retains all the Strat’s goodness – This can now be your base camp, allowing you to return to 10, as and when you require that extra touch of boost

To me the guitar shows its true colours when you hook it up to an amp with more of a blues/rock overdriven amp setting – Again use the Strat’s volume pot to find the sweet spot and allow this to be your base camp – As such, for chilled out licks and chords you’ll find it cleaner – As such when you require a touch more gain, just wind the Strat back towards 10 – If you still require a touch more boost, then just hit a good boost/overdrive pedal – This approach ensures shed loads of emotion and expression – As I mentioned earlier Strats from this period were popular with SRV (Lenny) and Jimi (Monterey black Strat), but players like John Mayer love these pick-ups as part of his ‘big dipper’ scooped tone –  You can run it through an amp setting that is pure clean, but somehow even a touch of gain adds more character and remember you can still roll off such gain, as required, with a tweak on the volume – This approach still ensure the guitar retains its true expressive qualities – I can go on and on and use a whole load of descriptive words to describe this guitars tonal character, but LUSH sums it up in one word

Full spec and details for this Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition  65 Heavy Relic Strat :-

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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 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.

For our returns and cancellation policy relating to mail order sales, on the above menu bar click on shop info then select mail order.