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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 + highly secd Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition 50’s Journeyman Relic Strat – 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 alder body, that is married to a maple rift sawn  one piece neck/fingerboard – Then add a set of hand wound ‘Tomatillo’ pick-ups – Set-up with 10-46 strings, along with a slick action – Includes the deluxe vintage style tweed case, certificate, tags, Custom Shop leather strap, plus travel/spec sheet

Full spec and details for this Limited Edition 50’s Journeyman Relic Strat :- 

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 obtain from 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 that is set-up with a highish action, then yes you’ll find it a challenge to play and certainly far less forgiving – Yet the 10/56V neck profile is certainly a touch easier to handle, than the ’54 U’ chunky necks that can be found on early mid 50’s  – Thankfully the Custom Shop team have a poetic licence that allows them to retain the vintage flavour of a good old ‘un, yet equally they will tweak the odd spec to enhance the playing performance – With this in mind you’ll find a compound fingerboard radius on this Strat  – It starts of at 7.25″ as per all vintage Fender models, yet gently morphs to a 9.5″ radius as you travel up the fingerboard – The 50085 frets are larger than vintage, but a touch smaller than 6100 or 6105’s – They retain a similar height to modern jumbo frets, but less width  – This Strat is  set up with a slick action, that responds to a light touch – It allows for effortless string bending, so you can dig in and attack those pentatonic blues bends, yet still show of a few cascading party licks n tricks as required – The thin nitro finish is cut back just enough to ensure a silky smooth ‘played in’ character

Lightly aged ‘Journeyman’ character :-   I fully appreciate that not all guitar players buy into the seriously aged vibe that you’ll find on many  Custom Shop Strats – With this in mind, a thin nitro Journeyman finish takes on more of a  lightly aged approach, that some might say is more authentic – This ‘wide fade 2 tone sunburst’ finish possesses a worn and faded character, with far less scars and wears than many other Relic models  – 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

Tonal character :– Spec’d with a set of ‘Tomatillo’ pick-ups – Hand wound and custom voiced, that feature a blend of components from the 50’s and 60’s models – Up until around the 63/64 era, Strat pick-ups featured formvar windings, but during the 50’s it was common to utile alnico 111 or V magnets  – The Tomatillo pick-ups feature formvar windings, along with a set of alnico 11 magnets – Add just enough extra windings to supply you with a touch of spice, but still 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 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 expressive qualities and lively character, so wind the volume pot back towards 10 as and when you require more gain, coupled with 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 – Remember the master tone pot operates all 3 pick-ups all the time, so trim it down a touch, as required, to soothe out any fizzy highs you don’t like on overdriven amp settings – Sometimes it might only need to be trimmed just a touch, to 8 or 9 to be effective

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, but continue to utilise the volume pot as subtle variations  deliver effective variations – Then wind it back towards 10 as and when you require a touch of extra boost ‘n’ 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, as required, to trim down any excessive fizzy highs – Yet 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 ‘n’ 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

Blend pot :-  A quick and simple mod that is becoming more and more popular – The bottom pot is normally for tone, but since this Strat is spec’d with the master volume + tone pot option, the bottom pot is now wired as a blend option, for more variation – Via the 5 way switch, then select the bridge pick-up – Now turn the blend pot  down to 0 and the bridge pick-up stays on its selected own, in the traditional manner – Now wind the blend pot towards to bring the neck pick-up in to the mix – Variations in between 0-10 offer effective changes and help to fatten up the bridge pick-up a touch – With the blend pot  on 10, you now have both neck + bridge pick-ups 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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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.