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February Giveaway

Fender 2013 MIJ LTD Edition '58 Stratocaster - Alder Body, 3 Color Sunburst Reviews

4.5 stars based on 3 customer reviews
  • from corfu, NY December 20, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Amazing Guitar

    This guitar for 599.00 is amazing!! I don't write reviews but when I received this thing i was blown away. I would buy this guitar for double the price and not even think twice about it. The fit and finish is perfect as are the frets. The pickips are good... They have a vintage mid range to them. I understand why fender does not import many japanese guitars. Definitely on par with a american standard. This guitar does not need any upgrades (hardware, pickups or tuners) perfect as-is just pick it up and pay it!!

  • from Houston, TX December 3, 2013Music Background:
    Professional musician, professional songwriter

    Amazing resonance and feels solid.

    I considered sending this guitar back. I wanted one that was *just like the 80's* strats. This isn't, but it's amazing. Better than any MIM strat I've played and even many MIA strat. Will it retain it's value? I don't know. Only 252 available in North America and Japan Fender and America Fender are two different entities. I called Fender here in the USA and they couldn't tell me a thing about the guitar. I don't know what the pickups are, "Alnico V, etc" but they sound amazing. The guitar sounds fantastic without any amplification. It's a 7.25 radius and the action isn't as low as I like, but it's on par with most 7.25 guitars. I've built countless guitars, so I could probably do a fret job on it and get the action lower -- I won't do it. It would lose some of that incredible resonance. It resonates like an aged Tele or even an SG. It's just beautiful. I think Japan did an excellent job on the pocket and the alder is high quality. The guitar is just solid. I can't tell you if the pickups are or not. When I record it, which is what I primarily do, it doesn't sound as good as my custom shop '65's, but it's really nice. I like the way it sounds more than my Eric Johnson strat. The neck, for having such a small radius, doesn't feel thin like a thinline tele or an Ibanez. It has a thick meaty feel -- not like a 50's Gibson or a Baja Tele, but like a MIA neck. It feels great to me. I'd recommend this to someone looking for an old school player with old school flavor. If I had to remake it the major things I would do would be vintage up the neck with very deep rich orange tint, make a manual that describes the pots, switch, block, pups and include a diagram. I like to mod my guitars and won't until the 2 year warranty is up. The bridge pickup is not affected by the tone control. That can easily be fixed with a jumper. Another thing is, I'd probably change the pickups to a more balanced set. Maybe lower the frets a tad so I can get the action just slightly lower. Maybe not on that -- wouldn't want to lose any resonance. Aside from those things, I'd put this in my top 5 guitars. That's saying a lot considering I've owned about 50 guitars in my life.

  • from Santa Fe, NM January 4, 2014Music Background:
    I love to play the guitar

    Great platform for upgrades.

    I ordered this guitar from Sweetwater before Christmas and it arrived Jan. 2. (Holidays made it a slow go for shipments, not Sweetwater's fault.)
    My initial impressions upon unboxing: "Wow! It's one of the good ones."

    I can actually make direct comparisons to another popular budget-minded Strat: the "Classic Vibe 50's" model. I own a "Fiesta Red" model which I purchased at a local shop over a year ago. There are many things about this MIJ Fender which are superior to the Chinese-made Classic Vibe series.

    First off, the body and neck feel slightly more "substantial." The headstock in particular is thicker and probably more "vintage correct." The wood on the MIJ seems to be selected from a superior timbre with beautiful flame on the neck and headstock and one stunner of a sunburst body.

    Next, the neck is similarly contoured but, the MIJ is wider at the nut due to the much more correct string spacing at the bridge. Also, unlike the CV model, the MIJ has beautifully rolled fingerboard edges. Both are a "vintage 'c'" shape, except for the slightly heftier feel of the MIJ neck due to the wider string spacing. Lastly, the MIJ has a perfectly level fret-job with vintage-accurate 7.25 radius and those low, small vintage frets. (The CV is 9.5 radius with medium frets and, actually, has an equally impressive level of fretwork.) Neither guitar has sharp fret-ends or fret-poke.

    The hardware on the MIJ is far superior to the CV. The tuners feel much more solid (even thought they look the same). The trem block is much larger in the MIJ. And, lastly, the input jack feels of higher quality. There's a little added confidence giving the trem a little workout in the MIJ.

    So, I'm only giving the MIJ LTD '58 Stratocaster 4 stars. Why? Because this guitar does not come with 100% quality components. The problem? Really inexpensive electronics and pickups.

    The electronics: for shame. The pots all need to stay turned up all the way to retain and treble. (Yes, no treble from a Strat with a beautiful, chimey unplugged tone.) I pulled the pickguard and the quality is really poor. The volume knob, for example, does nothing until about 7 or 8 and then it's almost on full. (Tone knobs are the same.) Also, the 5-way switch utilizes a plastic housing.

    As for pickups: the CV actually comes with vintage sounding pickups which can "Chime", "Sparkle", "Quack" and all that other "Stratty" stuff.
    This MIJ has those despised cheapos with the big ceramic bar on the bottom (remember, I pulled the pickguard) and almost no "quack" or "sparkle." This would be fine for hard rock with gain but, for a classic Strat sound, it's a little weird.

    Ultimately, I love the guitar and I'm willing to upgrade the electronics but, for those looking for good Strat tone at an affordable price, the CV is actually quite good.

    One last option would be the MIM "Classic" series of Strats. While these offer the "vintage" neck radius and small frets, the "v" shape is not for me (even though I like to play thumb-over chords).

    Therefore, this really well-crafted Japanese Strat is actually a great deal for those who are willing to accept the low-quality electronics as part of the equation. (I'm dropping in a pre-wired pickguard with some "69" era pickups from a good company.)

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