So how does a Fender USA Strat Plus from 1990, with a traditional 3 tone sunburst finish, grab you ? – The package includes a shaped moulded Fender case, with the silver badge insert + 4 chunky catches, that are all in tact and working – In the case you’ll find the original Hip Shot tuner, which can be re-fitted as required – Re-strung and set-up with a set of 10’s and a sensible fluid playing action – Weighs 9lbs – Condition wise then this may well be more for the players, rather than a pure collector who may well be looking for a mint condition example – Check out the web site pics and you’ll see some buckle wear on the rear of the body, along with a few nicks on the side/rim, yet the front of the body is fairly clean – So at least you can play it without giving it the kids glove treatment – Used but not abused would be a fair comment – Clean frets so no issues on that score
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 – 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 ‘replica’ models, for the die hard vintage buffs, early customised factory produced models included the Strat Plus, with a flatter fingerboard radius, plus a set of chunky frets, which 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 Fender/Schaller locking tuners, with a brushed satin finish – Wilkinson roller nut , 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 smooth positive feel about it, but it can offer seriously improved tuning stability over a traditional vintage system – Note screw in trem arm on this Strat Plus – Now 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 travelled into the modern era, to deliver a user friendly playing experience – The neck possesses a C profile with medium depth (measures .823″ around the top nut end with only a gentle taper to .873″ around the 12th fret) – 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 maple 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 easily ensure a more precise set-up
Tonal character – Finally, onto the 3 ply pick guard assembly and you’ll find a set of noiseless Lace Sensor pick-ups – Red in the bridge position, appears to be silver in the middle (lettering has faded) + blue in the neck position – 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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