Fender Stratocaster 60th Anniversary Classic Player
One Strat, Two Strats…….more….
For some reason Stratocasters seem to be following me home lately.
Back in late 2012 I only had the one. A 50th Anniversary Deluxe
Model, which I bought in Montreal in 2005, and to be honest
I didn’t use that much in favour of my Telecasters and Les
Pauls. Then in December 2013 I bought a used USA Buddy Guy
Signature from a relative.
Went to Orlando, USA in January 2013 and bought
an Eric Johnson Signature model. Fast forward to December
2013 and I swapped a high end pedal for a Squier
M Series Korean Stratocaster, this is actually for the sole
purpose of playing the new Rocksmith 2014 game, but it turned out to be quite a good
Come January 2014 with indeed not an inkling of doubt that I was done in
the Stratocaster acquisition game, I spotted this beauty in
a shop window whilst looking around Denmark Street in London.
I was sort of astonished actually, as just a few days earlier I had seen
the new 60th Anniversary Stratocasters announced
on the Fender website, so to see not one but two in stock
in London so soon was surprising.
Moving on I decided to test the guitar, the helpful attendant plugged me
into a Fender Blues Junior (which is the amp I normally use)
and was pleasantly greeted by a resonant instrument with a
sparkly cleans and a true vintage Strat sound which was quite different to my other ones.
Not totally relevant to the review but something I thought I would mention
is that I also tried the new Starcaster
that has recently been released, and wasn’t too impressed.
Felt awkward and cheaply made.
Going to back to the Strat, I slept on it and
purchased it the very next day trying the two in store and
keeping the one I thought sounded best.
First impressions are good with this instrument; visually it is definitely
well made and superbly finished. In fact if no one told you
or you saw the “Made In Mexico”
decal on the back on the headstock you would easily think
it’s an American made instrument.
You see this guitar, which is within the Classic Player Series, is finished
in nitrocellulose lacquer normally reserved for instruments
higher up the Fender hierarchy. Also the stock pickups are
Other appointments include an alder body, over which the nitrocellulose
lacquer Desert Sand finish is applied. The neck is made of
maple with a pleasing yellow vintage tint and has a soft V
shape which feels comfortable in the hand. The 21 medium jumbo
frets are inserted directly into the neck and this is finished
off with a well cut synthetic bone nut.
In the electronics department this Stratocaster employs 3 American Vintage
single coil pickups. These have staggered pole pieces which
are also bevelled. I note that the one for the B string is
practically flush with the plastic cover. This magnetic trio
are controlled by one master volume and two tone controls,
one for the Neck and Middle and the other for the bridge pickup.
A five way switch provides the usual combinations.
Looking at hardware, the guitar carries mostly vintage style items, such
the split post tuners, a 1-ply anodized aluminium pickguard
and back plate The tremolo however is a more modern 2 point
pivot style, but with vintage type steel saddles. All of these
are finished in gold plating. Also in keeping in the vintage
theme all plastic parts are aged white.
To commemorate the Stratocasters 60th Anniversary the back of
the headstock carries a special medallion and the neck plate
is engraved with the 60th Anniversary logo.
To round it all out the guitar is presented in a luxurious Tweed G&G
case with the 60th Anniversary logo and also brings
a commemorative book.
One comment on the case though, although very plush and obviously a quality
item, the design of the accessories compartment is different
to other G&G as this lies beneath the neck. This makes
access awkward. It also makes the compartment quite shallow
making it difficult to store larger items such as a thick
strap or pedal.
Then again at the price point of Classic Player the inclusion of a tweed
case is quite a bonus to which this issue can be overlooked.
How it Sounds
Overall the Classic is a smooth operator in the tone department, with a
cool 50s vintage mojo. Think rock’n’roll,
rockabilly, surf and you are in the ball park. Not that it
can’t go further … in fact other than heavy rock/metal I am
sure it could hold its own in most areas.
The bridge position has sparkle and bite, positions two and four quack and
makes you want to play Dire Straits tunes almost unconsciously.
The middle position is useful for rhythm and the bridge pickup can work
for Jazz or mellow solos if treated with Overdrive.
Even though it is setup with gauge 10 strings (I setup most of my Fenders
with 9s) the feel is light, slinky and bends are easy.
As with most Fenders tuning is not an issue and not seen to deviate even
with use of the 2 point pivot tremolo.
A well-made versatile instrument, and with features that I believe surpass
its price point.
By Ernest H Slade