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To say this is one of the finest Strats that I’ve ever played would be a valid comment – To say this is the best Strat I have ever played would be a touch unfair as a) it would be an insult to many other customers who have brought various fine Strats from me over the years and b) It is obviously impossible to get all those sold Strats back in to the shop for a shoot out, so it  makes that potential statement irrelevant – However I can say that the intention of playing and evaluating this Strat for only a few minutes, ended up as a far longer test drive – It possesses all the mojo, classic voices and expressive qualities that you’d expect from such a Strat, so for SRV or Rory Gallagher based blues fans, then this Strat is the business – So what can I tell you about this new Fender Jason Smith Masterbuilt 1963 Ultra Relic Strat, with a seriously aged sunburst finish, that weighs only 7lbs and 4oz and is totally laden with character and should bring a host of unadulterated pleasure to any prospective buyer

Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve sold a few versions of this Ultra Relic 63 Strat, yet once sold, I’ve had to wait in excess of  24 months for a replacement to arrive back into stock – Yet I love them so much that I always have 1 or 2 on order, but that waiting time can be bad news – As an overview, once I found a template and spec that I liked, then I’ve generally just replaced and re-ordered on a like for like basis – This time I’ve made two tweaks to the spec sheet – One is a set of hand wound Custom Shop Fat 60’s pick-ups – The other is a slightly larger 65 C neck profile, so more akin to the neck profile on SRV’s #1 Strat – More to follow on both changes

Spec is as follows :-

Feel/playing performance :-  Whatever magic is in this Strat regarding the playing experience can’t be seen – You feel it – The ’65’ Large C profile instantly feels comfortable, somehow familiar and very much old school from the golden era, with an extra ounce of meat on it – Take the classic 60’s C profile and add a gnats whisker of meat and this is the result – 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 dirty/worn ‘played in from day one’ character – To further enhance a slick playing performance, you’ll find a set of narrow/jumbo 6105 frets, along with a 9.5″ fingerboard radius – You can still dig in and attack those big pentatonic blues bends, but equally a slick playing actions awaits without any choking out – All in all, such modern tweaks, allow for a slick and user friendly playing experience

Tonal character :- First of all play this Strat unplugged and you’ll instantly notice a big acoustic voice – You can actually feel the vibrations, through the neck, on to your left hand – ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ring’ is a regular phrase of mine, to talk about the acoustic qualities of a good Strat  – So add a set of Josefina hand wound Custom Shop Fat 60’s pick-ups to compliment the acoustic properties it offers – Vintage flavoured, yet slightly overwound SRV style, to add just an extra hint of sizzle and muscle, so they don’t sound thin – They still retain all the magical vintage attributes of a 60’s Strat but with an extra helping of some spicy Tabasco sauce – Big piano like lows that are rich, sparkling and rounded – Sizzling clear highs that are warm and smooth, with just enough mids to beef up the overall character – Overall, a very rounded and smooth voice, with that percussive snap and attack that all good Strats possess  – The neck pick-up delivers that classic SRV chilled out voice, with the volume pot rolled off a touch, or with more of a percussive attack for those walking bass lines and shuffle rhythm styles when the volume pot is back 10 – The two ‘out of phase’ tones are totally infectious – Crisp, clear and full with more depth and body on the neck/middle combination and more snap on the bridge/middle combination – You’ll hear almost a full Tele like twang, with a musical bite, from the bridge pick-up that possesses a good level of depth and body, so ideal for power chords, riffs and scorching solos

This Strat is loaded with soul, expression and emotion, so to maximise these attributes use the volume pot accordingly, were subtle tweaks produce effective variations – To me the base camp is with the vol pot on/around the 6 mark, were it will handle most applications, be it with the amp set up for  a clean voice or an overdriven amp setting – Then roll the volume pot back towards 10, as and when you have a statement to make, that requires that additional boost with a touch of edge to it – On more subtle overdriven amp settings this approach allows you to clean up the voice for more of a laid back approach – On hi-gain amp settings it will allow you to roll off the gain for a cleaner voice that still sings, but now less saturated, so take it back towards 10 for more of a full on approach – Hence you and the guitar control the amp and every level of expression that goes with it – It allows you to try subtle yet effective variations, so for example a subtle overdriven amp setting with the Strat on 10, sounds different to a hi-gain overdriven amp setting and the Strat rolled off to around 6 or 7 – So all the Strat snap and attack on 10, or more chilled and lush as you wind it back down to around 8 or less – It possesses more than enough character to be played through a clean amp setting – Equally very little gain is required on the amp, to bring out the best of this Strat and make it sing – So add more gain as required- Which ever you prefer, this Strat offers a monstrous voice that is ideal for the blues fans

Whatever magic that can be found in some old vintage Strats, the Custom Shop team sure know how to  capture it and deliver it into a new package – This is a very special Strat and should give years of unadulterated pleasure to any guitar player

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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.

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