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Custom spec’d and ordered by myself in 2019 – A used and highly spec’d Fender Custom Shop 1960 Journeyman Relic Strat with a seriously aged 3 tone sunburst finish, with a set of hand wound pick-ups, a 10″ fingerboard radius with  a set of 6150 medium/jumbo frets – Note the neck on this 1960 Strat – It is big – I spec’d it with what is effectively the 1951 NoCaster neck profile – Maybe to big for some players but what a tone – I know the full history of this Strat and can confirm it is effectively un-played, hence still in ‘new showroom’ condition !!!!!!!!!!! – As with all used guitars that I buy and sell, this Strat has spent sometime on my bench for a new set of 10-46 gauge, plus a check-up/set-up – Light-ish action that will respond to a light touch

Feel/playing performance :- Playing that chunky early 50’s 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 maple neck then the bigger the tone – I certainly think if you play a big vintage spec’d neck, with an ‘old school’ 7.25″ radius, that is spec’d with small vintage frets, that requires a high-ish action, then yes you’ll find it tough to play and certainly less forgiving  – Yet thanks to a set of 6150 medium jumbo frets along with a 10″ 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 fully cut back, for that silky smooth ‘played in from day one’ character and that ‘dirty worn’ appearance – 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 – The big neck is a characteristic normally found on those early 50’s black guard Teles – It starts off at .960″ and gently tapers and fills out to 1.00″ at the 12th fret

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

Tonal character :- With a hand select alder body, this Strat comes in at 7lbs and 11oz and played unplugged you’ll instantly hear it possesses a natural vibrant and lively character – That big necks certainly adds to the un-plugged tone and you can certainly feel and hear it vibrate/ring – The hand wound pick-ups are all controlled via the 5 way switch, a master volume pot, a master tone pot + the blend pot (see above) – Pick-ups measure around 5.5K – Note the aged magnets/pole-pieces and aged covers – Also note RWRP middle pick-up – As an overview this Strat is more succulent, lush and smooth, with less of a pushed hard biting character, with no shortage of snap and attack – Very responsive – 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

Full spec and details for 1969 Heavy Relic Strat  :- 

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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.