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It is now a regular feature, for the Custom Shop team, to release a number of Limited Edition models at the annual NAMM Show in LA – Such Limited Edition models are rarely revolutionary or flamboyant, as their criteria is to release a run of highly spec’d replicas, based on models from their own golden era – I’ve listed all the appropriate details below, regarding this new Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition 55 Relic Strat, with a classic 2 tone sunburst finish, that displays no shortage of aged character – Note the ‘Limited Edition’ engraved neck plate, whilst a similar decal can be found on the rear of the headstock, as well as on the appropriate certificate of authenticity – Highly spec’d throughout including a select ash body, that is married to a 1/4 sawn  one piece neck/fingerboard – Then add a set of hand wound 55 pick-ups, with formvar windings and alnico 111 magnets  – Set-up with 10-46 strings, along with a slick action – Includes the deluxe vintage style blonde case, certificate, tags, Custom Shop leather strap, plus travel/spec sheet

Playing that chunky ’54’ U neck profile :-  Is it big compared to other Strats ? – Yes – Is it to big to handle ? – No – Does it enrich the tone ?- Probably a Big Yes for this one – 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  1/4 sawn neck and the select lightweight ash body, then the bigger the tone – I certainly think if you play a big vintage spec’d neck, with a 7.25″ radius and small vintage frets,  coupled with a highish action, then yes you’ll find it tough to play and certainly less forgiving  – Yet thanks to a set of medium jumbo frets (6105’s – narrow + tall) along with a 9.5″ fingerboard radius, then set up with a well balanced fluid action, that will respond to a light touch, then you’ll find this neck is far more ‘user friendly’ – The thin nitro finish has been cut back, for that silky smooth ‘played in from day one’ character and that ‘dirty worn’ vibe – I find you quickly get used to it, so before to long you don’t notice the size of the neck, but you will appreciate that big tone – It has similar dimensions to the U shaped profile you’ll find on many Custom Shop Black Guard Early 50’s Nocasters – It starts of big at .910″ at the top nut end, then gently fattens out to 9.93″ at the 12th fret

Tonal character :-  With any vintage flavoured Custom Shop Strat, I always evaluate the unplugged acoustic tone first – ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ring,’ is a tag line I support – This Strat possesses a big vibrant acoustic voice that you can both hear and feel – Now hook it up to your favourite amp and instantly you’ll appreciate that big vintage flavoured tone that is on offer, via a set of hand wound ’55’ pick-ups – Lush, spanky, crisp highs, transparent mids and big piano lows – Melodic rich and warm – More lush than  hot – Loaded with character – More Gilmour and less Malmsteen – The ’55’ pick-ups, with sweet sounding alnico 3 magnets, have been custom wound with formvar windings – With output levels around 5.72K, they are not exactly the most powerful vintage pick-up that Fender have ever produced – But this is more about a lush, warm, rich, melodic voice, as against trying to kick down any barn doors – Yes you can hear sparkling crisp highs but everything is more tender rather than pushed – The two out of phase settings are totally infectious with a rich character, that is more crisp on the bridge/middle combination and more full on the neck/middle combination – You could almost buy this Strat just for the Sweet Home Alabama character that they offer

It works fine with a hi-gain amp setting, but I’m not so sure this brings out the best of this Strat – Yet staying with the hi-gain amp setting, then in my opinion it sounds more favourable with the volume pot rolled back just a touch, to soften any fizzy highs – Hence more tender yet still plenty of sustain – A more subtle overdriven amp setting brings out the guitars full potential – It can work in a more raw format, to capture the voice found on plenty of blues recordings, especially with the volume pot on 10 as it possesses a touch more bite and attack – But not in a ‘hot’ manner, as this Strat is always more reserved – Roll the volume pot down to around 6 or 7 for a more chilled ‘Little Wing’ approach, that still retains all the guitars goodness and expressive qualities – Subtle, yet effective, variations on the volume pot, will allow you to control the amp and gain – This approach will deliver a Strat that is loaded with soul, emotion, dynamics and expression – On clean amp settings, you’ll find that it is not short of character, for those Chic style funky chops, Hank style melodic tunes, or 50’s Rock n Roll tricks – But I still favour a touch of gain, just to add a hint of additional character – Remember at all times that you have access to a tone pot on all 3 pick-ups – So tone for neck/middle pick-ups + tone for bridge pick-up  – Overall tone is big, warm, rich and lively and always more polite and educated

Full spec + details for this Custom Shop Limited Edition 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.

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