An early and all original Fender USA Strat Plus from 1998 with a classic black finish – This is another example of an early Strat Plus, with the E4 serial number, that to some may well indicate a 1984 date of birth – Yet the Strat Plus was not released until late 1987 – So by looking at additional spec and features it is safe to assume this is a 1988 model, whilst the E4 serial number sequence was a common feature during this period on the Strat Plus – It is generally accepted that Fender had a shed load of decals left over from the old Fullerton factory and utilised these until a new batch of E8 based numbers became available – The package includes an oblong fibre USA case with the ’embossed’ Fender logo, with the handle, plus 3 catches all in good working order – The overall condition is that of a fairly clean guitar and we know how easily a black finish shows every hint of a blemish, so for a 30 year old guitar there are no negative issues – Close scrutiny will reveal no dings or dints, so any signs of use are on the light side and only applicable to the top surface of the gloss finish, so superficial surface grazes are all you need to worry about – Any hint of fret wear is again minimal and barely worth a mention, so much so that if it has taken 30 years to only show the merest hint of wear, then I suggest another 20 or 30 years of use will be available to you before a fret dress is required – Re-strung and set up with a new set of 10’s – This Strat comes in at 8lbs and 3oz
The late 70’s and early 80’s gave birth to the customised guitar market – Many players found that their old Strats no longer measured up to the task, as they gravitated towards more advanced playing styles- As such, guitarists, plus many workshops, started to experiment with various customised options, that would allow the guitar player to enhance their technical skills and ability- Companies like Schecter and Anderson offered a whole load of hot rod option, spares and accessories, as well as their own custom spec’d built instruments, – Somewhat behind the game, but in the 80’s, Fender took all this on board – So whilst they still produced the much loved ‘replicas’ models, for the die hard vintage buffs, early customised factory produced models included the Strat Plus – A flatter fingerboard radius, plus chunky frets, ensured fluid licks and cascading tricks would no longer feel a battle on a Strat
Hot rod features on the Strat Plus included a set of Sperzel locking tuners, with a brushed satin finish – Wilkinson double roller nut (a Mk11 version with a top and lower roller for all 6 strings – ie each string goes over and under a metal roller) – So no string trees required to snag up tuning issues – To compliment such improvements at the headstock end, Fender added a modern 2 point fulcrum trem system , that was essentially based on the Floyd Rose format, yet without all the hassle of the locking devices – This new trem package is not only more responsive, with a positive feel about it, but it can offer seriously improved tuning stability over a traditional vintage system – Note this Strat Plus still features a traditional block for a screw in trem arm (some models utilised the push/snap in format) – All original hardware on this Strat including the shiny trem block (note no Trem Setter on this Strat) – Now we add a set of 22 medium jumbo frets, plus a 9.5″ fingerboard radius, so along with a satin finished maple neck, you’ll appreciate a fluid playing action, plus easier string bending, with no choking out when pulling off those big blues bends, all of which has ensured the Strat Plus has traveled into the modern era for a user friendly playing experience – Later Strat Plus models had a far slimmer profile, but here we have a neck shape with a comfortable and rounded C profile with a hint of additional meat on it, but nothing approaching chunky – Additionally the Strat Plus was spec’d with a slightly wider fingerboard – Traditionally Gibson have preferred a 43mm top nut width, whilst Fender ran with a slightly narrower nut width at 1.65″ (around 42mm) – The Strat Plus models featured a 1.6875″ top nut width, which is effectively 43mm, as per a Gibson – So marginally wider – Hidden under the fingerboard is the Fender Bi-Flex truss rod, which along with the micro-tilt option, within the 4 bolt neck plate, will all help to ensure a more precise set-up
Tone – Finally, onto the white pick guard assembly and you’ll find a set of noiseless Gold Lace Sensor pick-ups – Tonal wise the Lace Sensor pick-ups have a strong Strat flavour yet with more of a soft, sultry, smooth and rounded character – This will always be considered a good or bad thing subject to your own tonal requirements – I think they sound a touch like the Dave Gilmour tone on Shine on you crazy diamond – Very warm and melodic – Less sparkling highs, but not mushy or moody – A stronger voice that is less thin than many Strats – The 5 way switch allows you to access all the regular options – master volume + tone neck plus tone middle/bridge on the TBX pot with a middle/centre click around 5 – This allows you to dial in additional highs on the middle/bridge combination – Many Strats are itching to get onto overdriven amp settings but the Strat Plus loves clean based amp tones – Hi-gain amp settings are more warm and melodic and less on the edge, whilst more subtle overdriven amp settings allow this Strat to show its true character – On such overdriven amp settings the volume pot will allow you to dial in/out subtle but effective changes of gain that add more soul and emotion to your playing
Never sure if it is the feel of the neck or the pick-ups, or both, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Strat Plus models
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