Tag Archives: Music

Initial thoughts

This is the story of a USA made 1987 Fender Stratocaster Plus, Serial E471618, which I acquired in late March 2009 on eBay for $799. It’s supposed to be 1987, and the serial number kind of bears that out. The rear trem spring cover was missing, it had one or two minor dings (nothing serious) and an awful setup.

Although some people tip the Strat Plus to be a future collectible, that wasn’t the reason for getting it. I’m trying to build/integrate a replacement, or maybe an alternative to the Parker Nitefly that I’ve been playing almost exclusively for the last couple of years, and this will almost definitely mean some, er, modifications. I’m still undecided as to exactly what those will be, but they’ll include some kind of piezo/acoustic capability at the very least.

First step is to use it for a practice session, which I’m doing tonight. I’ve just blocked the trem and removed the lever, thrown a new set of Ernie Ball 9’s on there and given it a quck setup. While I was doing that I noticed it has some fret wear (well, it is 22 years old) but in my opinon that a *good* thing – it means it plays well as someone  has been playing it. There’s also a crack in the fingerboard around the 18th fret on the treble side but that’s purely cosmetic. Stringing with the needle roller nut is a bit weird but at least I was used to the locking Sperzels.

Addendum – May 28th 2012

OK, so since writing the original post three years ago, I’ve had an adventure with a VG Strat … which ended  up being replaced by a Variax 700 and a Pod X3 Live, and then a custom Variax, then briefly a Gibson Dusk Tiger, the Parker again, then an Ovation GP Ultra. Why? Because I spent ages chasing my tail to avoid having to change guitars to play acoustic songs, and I was compromising on everything just for that reason, which is ridiculous. I bought a better acoustic (a Martin OMC) and went to a non-Piezo guitar – the Ultra GP and switched the Pod X3 Live for a Zoom 9.2tt because I wanted the tubes to ‘warm up’ the Bose L1.

Anyhow, the point is that I’ve dropped the whole Piezo/modeling guitar thing, it just doesn’t sound right. So where does the Strat Plus fit in?

Although I love the GP Ultra, it has three design problems – firstly it’s heavy (not much to be done about that) second it has a wrap around bridge, which I’ve never liked, and third it has regular tuning keys, not locking Sperzels. I almost bit the bullet and took a drill to the GP .. which would slaughter it’s value. Instead, I got the Strat plus out. It has the Sperzels, it’s light, it has the roller nut (not everyone’s taste, but it avoids my usual Strat problem of the high E jumping out of the nut). The lace sensors though .. too weedy.

Of course with a Strat, you can do a whole electronics transplant really easily. Looking around, I found the Seymour Duncan Everything Axe pickguard replacement, with all humbuckers. That should do the trick. I also ordered some Graphtec saddles – the trem is already blocked.

Hopefully it won’t be another three years before I post on this again!