Click on a photo to view larger image and slideshow

I suppose we are all programmed to see a Strat with a classic sunburst, olympic  white or fiesta red finish, or indeed a host of ultra cool surf colours – Yet the Custom Shop team like to expand their boundaries, as they blend traditional ideas with exotic woods, whereby ‘art’ meets impeccable workmanship, to deliver a Strat that begs exploration, thanks to its sonic capabilities – The bottom line it is that it is the playing experience that makes this used Fender Custom Shop Artisan Koa Thinline Strat so enticing – A very clean, plus all original example, that was released as part of a  small run from the summer NAMM 2017 Artisan collection – Slight clarification – The certificate clearly indicates this is a 2018 model – Yet the enclosed traveler sheet indicates 2017 – As I said it was released as a small run at the summer NAMM show in September 2017, but show orders would not all have been built/shipped in 2017, as such common for such guitars to have a ‘date of birth’ a few months later, as this case with this example  – Please check out below, a host of product details and spec – In no particular order :-

Condition :- Not quite in that ‘as new/mint condition’ but it is exceptionally clean – Look on the brushed aluminium scratchplate, on the Low E side and you’ll just about make out some pick mark haze – Look on the rear of the body and again you can just about make out a slight haze + graze to the very top surface of the finish – Barely skin deep – No dings – In fact any blemish you can find is subtle and skin deep at worse – Effectively you’d have to be very fussy to have any issue with the overall condition – No fret wear

Playability :- The neck profile is based on a 63 Strat – So an ounce of extra meat to it compared to the classic 60’s oval profile – Comfortable rounded C profile – So whilst some ‘modern’ input to the body, the neck is straight from the vintage stable – However, as with most Custom Shop guitars, the fingerboard receives modern appointments – Hence a compound fingerboard radius that starts off at 9.5″ around the top nut end, then gently morphs to 12″ by the time you get to the 12th fret – Coupled with a set of 6105 medium jumbo frets, to allow for a slick action, that won’t choke out when you rip into those big ‘blues bends’  – So the feel of the neck is vintage, but the playability is modern, to ensure a playing experience that is easy to handle

Tonal character:- Whilst okoume is not part of the mahogany family, it does share similar tonal properties to mahogany – Hence warm with good muscle/punch, especially in the mid range, yet a touch brighter, with tight clear lows, compared to mahogany – You’d probably expect mahogany to be more dense and heavier, compared to alder or ash, but a) careful selection of okoume  and b) semi-hollow thinline style, will ensure that it comes in at a good weight, under 8lbs – Plus it still retains that snap and attack, that is part n parcel of a Strat tone – A bolt on maple neck will enrich such properties – Played acoustically you’ll experience a lively character – Plug it in and it instantly sounds like a Strat – Play it a bit more and you’ll notice that it does possesses a touch more muscle in the mid range – Not fat or moody, but just a touch more depth/body – Highs are crisp and spanky yet warm and not thin/weedy – Lows are big and round, plus nice and tight – As I mentioned above, the 60/63 pick-ups are hand wound and controlled via the 5 way switch – Note a RWRP middle pick-up

As an overview this Strat is succulent and smooth, when you stroke the strings, yet no shortage of snap and attack when you want to dig in a bit – The neck pick-up is oh so sweet, musically rich, lush and smooth, coupled with clear shimmering highs to give you a lovely degree of clarity that has obvious comparisons to the SRV tone, with strong mids – Strat bridge pick-ups can sometimes be a touch weak and thin sounding, but here we have a pick-up that possesses enough depth, body, bite and balls, without that shrill like ice pick attack – On clean settings it’s crisp and clear with good body and depth – On overdriven amp settings this transfers into a musical warm bite that works well on both riffs, driving Texas shuffle rhythms and lead work – The fact that you now have a tone pot working on the bridge pick-up, ensures that if required, you can roll off the highs just a touch until you discover that magical sweet spot – Both ‘out of phase’ tones are excellent with a good ‘quack’ about them that is so infectious, coupled with a level of smoothness and body that is rare to find – More warm/rich on the neck/middle combination and more bell or glass like clarity on the middle/bridge combination

Now on the amp, add either more subtle gain for a blues vibe, or indeed even more gain to take you into classic rock/blues territory – Then for your base tone leave the Strat’s volume pot around the 6 or 7 mark – At this point the guitar still retains its full expressive qualities and vintage character, but now you and the guitar are in full control the amp – At this stage you’ll find more of a chilled out character with less gain, so now, just like a good singer wanting to deliver a touch extra, wind the volume pot back towards 10 for more bite, attack and gain – Hence more emotional control, soul and expression directly at your finger tips – For blues based players you’ll hear that percussive snap and attack for SRV style shuffle patterns, walking bass lines and chord stabs with a succulent musical richness in the neck position – Whilst the bridge position has enough in it to kick dirt, yet equally it can be tamed for a softer approach  – I played around with different gain settings to see how it would respond and whatever you threw at it, it was not short of soul, emotion and expression – Less gain on the amp, but add an overdrive pedal, with the guitar volume pot on 10, or 6/7 – Likewise a hi-gain amp with the Strat volume roll off – All approaches delivered variations of gain and sustain, yet all effective in different ways – The finer nuances off the tone and gain are there for you to explore but the key factors is the guitar is responsive to you, the amp and how you play it

Note on the finish :- It is spec’d as ‘aged natural’ – So just a touch of clarification – This  Strat has a new shiny gloss finish – So no aged/relic character – As such ‘aged natural’ refers to a hint of ‘character’ to the clear natural finish – Think of it as a slight ‘honey’ tint, so as it does not look pure, or clinical and lacking character

EXPRESS MAIL ORDER - click here for card payment & additional delivery info

For additional product info, to arrange a showroom visit + viewing, or indeed any other questions, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Call: 01335 345777 or email: Please note that showrooms visits are strictly by appointment only.

Please read below

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.