This is the Fender '70s Stratocaster MIM. Before you discount the MIM part, consider that this baby is about as close as you can get to the Fender Custom '69 Stratocaster ala Jimi Hendrix or the Robin Trower Signature Stratocaster and man does it have that funky late 60's early '70s vibe and feel to play. Not only that, but this one on particular has the Jimi-Woodstock MOJO nailed. I called my local Guitar Center twice in advance asking if they had one and they said no both times. I was trying to decide between the new Highway One with the large 70s headstock or one of these '70s Strats. So I go down anyway and lo and behold there's this one hanging on the wall! So I get it down and it had been there for some time. I plug it into a Fender hand wired Vibrolux and started paying "Wind Cries Mary", "Hey Joe", "Hey Baby" on and on. Well, just about everybody in the store including the sales reps and about a dozen customers flocked around to hear! They were all saying how beautiful it sounded. It was as if this guitar was possessed and I certainly felt Jimi's spirit flowing through. The tone and feel was just magical. It has the glossy rounded neck F-Shape profile which fits perfectly into the palm, same as the CS '69 a d '68 that Jimi used. Super nice low action, vintage frets which at first I thought I wouldn't like but watching the close-ups of Jimi at the Woodstock full length concert DVD you can see that's art of the Mojo. Nothing a little finger ease won't cure. Previously, I was nearly sold on the new Highway One Upgrade for all the wonderful new improvements it touts, so I put this down for a minute and grabbed one of the new Highway Ones and it's bland satin nitro finish and closer string spacing, while different was like picking up a half finished guitar and the tone was so-so. I couldn't wait to put it back down and grab the '70s Strat before someone else discovered it! Picked it up again and you she was mine! You would have had to shoot me to get it away from me. What's interesting is that 2 days prior, I walked into another music store and they had a clear coat 70s Strat so I picked it up and it felt like it was bolted to the floor it was so heavy! The salesman told me it was made of Northern Ash which is a very heavy wood compare to the lighter swamp ash. The 1st string was hanging off the neck and it was just horrible. So I decided to get the Highway One until I ran across this white one! THE One! continued below...
As I asked the manager to take it down from the wall, I said I don't think I'll want it because they weigh a ton. He said "Not really!" Well, once I grabbed it, it was light as a feather! He said, it really all depends on the guitar! Well this one is made of Lite Ash of some type but the resonance is uncanny. Robin Trower said on the Fender video that he's always found that the lighter weight bodies almost always seem to have the best tone, whereas the heavier woods sound harsh and brittle. Instead, he says he always listens for a musical, acoustic quality unplugged. Man oh man was he right! When you listen to this unplugged, it almost sounds as loud as an acoustic guitar and has that "spank" to it when you pluck a note it just pops right out of the neck. The pickups have the closest woody tone to "Wind Cries Mary" (or amy Hendrix song for that matter), I've ever heard. I've tried several sets of Fender custom shop '69 pickups in various guitars and they sounds great but the bell like tones that come out of this is just from heaven above. The pickups look like the cheap kind with the plastic bobbins but the tone is superior to any of my custom shop 69s IMHO. What's more, it has the single pickup routing on all 3 pups which is fantastic because most of the American Series and Highway Ones have that humbucker route which I think affects the Mojo of 3 single coil Strats a lot with that big hollow hole routed out. This has the original synchronized vintage bridge, which, as Robin Trower says, "a Strat doesn't sound like a Strat unless you have the vintage saddles". I couldn't agree more because my 2 Pivot bridge on my AmSe Strat which is supposed to be better just doesn't seem to have that same gnarly Strat sound when you use the tremolo or even overall tone is just not the same.
The Olympic white color is the same as Jimi's at Woodstock and the pick guard is white-white like Jimi's was. The AmSe Olympic white Strat has a vintage white pick guard that is almost the same as the creamy white. Jimi's had more contrast like this one with the creamy white body but white-white pick guard. All 5 pickup positions sounds incredible! Positions 2 & 4 especially, have more Mojo quack than I ever heard on any Strat I've ever owned and I've had many.
Another great thing is it has that long-tall trem arm like Jimi's perfect for using 5 springs! I tried 5 springs on my AmSe and Highway 1 Strats with the shorter trem arms and you need to be a weight lifter to wiggle it up and down. The longer trem arm that stands pointed upward gives the extra leverage so all you need to do is touch it with your finger tips like Jimi did and you can get the full vibrato easily with all 5 springs! This is partially what gave Jimi that gnarly sound when he did the roaring feedback and when plucking the springs themselves to get the howling wind sounds. Surprisingly, it stays in tune very well and there's no need for Sperzels or Schaller locking tuners. The Fender "F" style tuners are as cool as it gets and what Jimi used. With the center peg hole, it allows you to insert the string and lock bend it as you turn so there really is no slippage!
The glossy finish on the neck really stands out and all-in-all this is probably even closer to what Jimi's '68 Strat is than the custom shop '69 because they're using the new "thin skin" nitro finish on those now when Jimi's was surely painted with a polyurethane finish the same as this one. The neck action is nice and low, setup perfectly and zero fret buzz! Jimi used .9-.38s Fender F150s Nickel and that's what I put on it when I got her home. Incidentally, the reason why Guitar Center said they didn't have one in stock is because the assistant manager had also fallen in love with it and didn't want it to be sold before he could save enough money to buy it for himself so they were all covering for him to protect it from being sold! So I went and asked him did he still want to buy it because I felt guilty and he said, no go ahead. He knew someone was playing it from across the store so he didn't dare walk over because he knew with was the sound of this guitar out of the hundreds of guitars hanging on the wall he recognized the tone and his worst nightmare was confirmed. However, he was glad that it went to me because he knows what Hendrix fanatic I am and he said that if anyone deserved to have her it was me. I haven't been able to put her down ever since ringing her home and after all this time, my search for the ultimate Jimi Strat is over!
One last thing, to dress her up and make her complete, she is dressed in an exact replica of Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Strat Strap provided by my new good friend Patrick at HippieStrap.com! I don't know if he actually sells them on that site but you can definitely pick one up at his eBay store here which is where I got mine. Patrick is the coolest hippie I know now! Thanks Patrick
He even hooked up my friend Andy Aledort, Sr. Editor Guitar World magazine, featured on The Band of Gypsys Return new record along with Billy Cox himself with his straps. Too cool!! Anyway, I love my new Fender '70s Stratocaster! If you have any doubts, don't think twice! Get yourself one but make sure you can feel the weight first as Ash weights can vary dramatically I've learned.
I just made this little sound clip to give you an idea how it sounds. The recording sounds al little bit fuzzy though because the amp has a THD Power brake on it at a low setting, which was too low to adequately push the speaker paper hard enough so it added a little fuzziness that's not in the sound of the guitar so please overlook that part and my playing as I wasn't really trying to play anything in particular perfectly click here
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