Unfortunately, I’m writing this post almost a month after I actually worked on these guitars and took notes on them.
Fender American Stratocaster (New). When I was a kid there were two types of Fenders. American and Japanese. And the American Fenders were regarded (maybe just by me?) as the best guitar anyone could get. Then came the Mexican Fenders, and then came all the custom shops, relics, vintage vibe, whatever models. What that meant is that now the American Fender wasn’t the top of the line. It was middle of the line and I stopped looking up to them. To be honest, this wasn’t just a prejudice, I would actually pick up “standard” made in the USA Fenders, and they would bum me out. This week (or rather, last month), I had the chance to work on a couple (in the same day) of American standard strats, and I was pleasantly surprised. They played nicely, I was able to get low action out of them, and they sounded like stratocasters. It’s just felt like Fender is putting some effort into these guitars again. The only thing that bothered me and truly perplexed me was the fact they didn’t have safety posts tuners. Why would Fender go back on these tuners? They’re the best! First, very small chances of getting your fingers poked by a string, but they also created a standard to stringing up Fenders. I’m really confused by why Fender would use through posts.
Fender CS Stratocaster (2013). No link because the Fender page is annoying. This one was finished in surf green and was lightly (and correctly) reliced, had jumbo frets, sounded like Hendrix (well, not really, but you get the idea), and the best thing about it – the neck (which was stamped April 2011) wasn’t twisted. To be honest, all I remember is that it was a really cool guitar, but the funny thing is that I played it right after the first American standard strat, and it blew it out of the water. And that goes back again to Fender’s marketing that I alluded to. Instead of having two or three “strands” of the same guitar, they make 10 of them, actually put it in decent effort into maybe two of those series (like the custom shop) and jack up the price on those. Oh well, at least they still make nice guitars, and this one had safety posts!
Gibson ES-339. I’ve never seen one of these before! It was like a baby ES-335 and I liked it. I like the 335s, but they are kind of awkward to play when sitting down, so the 339 is a perfect compromise. The one I worked on was finished in red/cherry, probably had maple top, had mahogany neck and rosewood board. It sounded great, but I have no idea what pickups it had.
That day I also worked on a 73 or 72 SG Standard that had a (repaired) broken headstock. It liked the way it played and sounded, but it’s been so long, I don’t remember too much about it, except for two things. 1) Whoever refreted it didn’t bother with the fret nibs, which made the guitar look weird. 2) It needed a fret dress. Otherwise, a totally solid guitar. There was also a 2004 Les Paul Standard that sounded killer and weighed as much as an anvil, but I don’t remember too much about it, except that I might be turning into a Les Paul guy. One day I’ll buy a Les Paul with P90s (maybe a Gem?) and it might be my favorite guitar.