How does a used plus highly spec’d Fender Custom Shop 1960 Journeyman Relic Strat with a supa cool ‘faded ice blue metallic’ finish, interest you ? – Spec’d with a set of hand wound pick-ups, a 10″ fingerboard radius with a set of 6150 medium/jumbo frets – 2023 arrived and along with it another price increase from Fender, which would now result in a new similar spec’d Custom Shop Strat attracting a price tag well in excess of £4000 , along with at least a 6 month waiting time, once the order has been placed – See below for full spec and additional info – This Strat has barely been played and is effectively still in new showroom condition – Nevertheless, it has spent a short time on my work bench for a new set of 10-46 gauge strings, plus a check-up/set-up, so all ready to go with a good sensible action
Full spec + details for a 1960 Journeyman Relic Strat :-
- Select alder body – chosen for weight, tonal character + a vibrant acoustic voice
- Whole guitar weighs 7lbs and 11oz
- Journeyman Relic finish – faded ice blue metallic – Plenty of lacquer checking + fade but far less nicks and dings – Hence ‘vintage’ character but not abused
- Maple neck with thin medium honey tint that has been cut back just enough for a ‘satin’ played in character
- AAA grade rosewood fingerboard
- 65C neck profile – hence an extra ounce of meat on the rear of the neck compared to the classic 60’s Oval C profile – Measures .840″ at the top nut end and fattens out to .969″ at the 12th fret
- Vintage clay dot inlays
- 10″ fingerboard radius
- 6150 medium jumbo frets
- Bone top nut end
- 56/60 era headstock logo, hence no patent nos.
- Vintage spec’d hardware and lightly aged accordingly
- Single ply parchment trem back plate – lightly aged accordingly
- Off white and lightly aged control knobs, switch tip, trem tip + pick up covers – all aged accordingly
- 1960 3 ply nitro pickguard – 11 hole – with metal screening plate – all aged accordingly
- Custom Shop hand wound 60/63 era pick-ups – Alnico V magnets + formvar windings – Neck measures 5.5K, middle measures 5.75K, bridge measures 5.95K – RWRP middle pick-up
- 250K 10% taper control pots – Master volume + master tone + blender pot – more on that below + grease bucket mod on the tone pot
- Set-up with 10-46 gauge strings + medium/slick action + trem slightly floating for up/down pitch – I can edit as required
- Vintage brown tolex case + certificate + shop floor traveller spec sheet
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 Journeyman finish takes on more of a subtle aged approach, that some might say is more authentic – This cool ‘faded ice blue metallic’ finish possesses a worn and faded character, with far less scars, nicks and wear ‘n’ tear, yet you’ll still find plenty of lacquer checking to capture the aged mojo – Aged, but not abused, might be a fair remark – 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
Feel/playing performance :- Whatever magic is in this Strat regarding the playing experience can’t be seen – You feel it – The classic 65 Large C profile instantly feels comfortable, familiar and very much old school from the vintage era, with an extra ounce of meat on it – 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, just enough, for more of a ‘played in’ satin feel – To further enhance the playing performance, you’ll find a set of medium jumbo 6150 frets, along with a 10″ radius – You can still dig in and attack those big blues bends, but for more intricate licks, this vintage Strat offers a far more slick action – Overall the modern tweaks are subtle yet very effective – It is a neat tweak from the Custom Shop team, so vintage and slick in one package
Tonal character :- With a hand select body, this Strat comes in at 7lbs and 11oz – Played unplugged you’ll instantly hear it possesses a natural vibrant and lively character – As mentioned earlier, the 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 transparent 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 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 – Not all Strats are this good, so if you are in the market for an aged Strat with a killer tone, then maybe the hunt is over
Blend control pot :- Wired with a master volume and master tone pot, that operates all 3 pick-ups on all 5 switch positions – However a neat mod, that is becoming increasingly popular, is the blend control pot, that you’ll find in place of the traditional bottom ‘tone pot’ – Select the bridge pick-up and with the blend pot on 10 you’ll still have access to the bridge pick-up on its own – Now roll the blend pot back towards 1, to experience the neck and bridge pick-up working together – As such it effectively provides some of the character of a Tele when both pick-ups are selected – You’ll hear that It adds a touch more depth to the bridge pick-up – Try different levels between 1 and 10 on the blend pot, for subtle yet effective variations, as required
Grease bucket mod on the master tone pot :- Again a simple and very effective tweak, with a capacitor across two of the contacts on the tone pot – It allows you to roll of the highs via the tone pot, yet it still retains the same level of gain on the amp – So if you find the highs a touch to harsh and piercing at times, roll off the tone pot as required, to soften those highs, yet it will make no impact on the gain level that you require , so it will still sing but in a more melodic manner
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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.