What kind of reputation do they have these days? Is there any reason to buy a vintage strat? Are the new ones as good or even better with the new electronics?
I’m saving up for a Jimmie Vaughan TexMex Stratocaster. Has three Tex Mex pickups. No hummingbirds. I love the sound. I want mine in candy apple red. Most places are selling them discounted down to $850. Some of the other model Strats are a lot higher.
Wheres the best place to buy? I’ve had friends tell me Sam Ash is really good. Theres one outside Nashville and one in Dallas. Either one is a five hour drive away. Would I get better service in person? Get the strings that I prefer put on and get the bridge and action setup? A ten hour round trip is no joke, but if Sam Ash is that good then it might be worth it. I’d probably drive to Nashville. I love that city and enjoy visiting.
Or should I just buy it online at the best price? Get it setup here locally?
I love the sound of old guitars, this is an opinion shared by many but by no means is Universal. Strats and most other models of guitars have changed radically over the years, neck radius and nut width being a common set of changes. IMHO if it feels good in your hands, sounds good, fits your body and you think it is beautiful, this is the gitfiddle for you. YMMV.
While I am no stranger to GC or Sam Ash, I try to buy local. IME the price difference is not too much and they will help with setup and the like. This is not Universally true.
Do a little research and buy it for a price you are ok with. MSRP is $1089.99 but it seems that all of the majors are at 849.99, probably a mandate from Fender.
Guitar making - electric and acoustic, factory, small-batch and single-luthier - is really going through a Golden Age. 35+ years ago, I paid $350 for a Fender electric; you can get an entry-level Squier/Fender for less money today and some of them are pretty decent. And the Mexican, American and Custom Shop ones (those are ascending price points) can be spectacular.
The good Capt is correct that old ones in decent shape are valued, but that’s something to worry about if you’ve played a while and know why you’d pursue that specific old guitar. For someone starting out, a decent Mexi-Strat or a basic US Strat is going to more than likely be just fine. Make sure it gets a proper set up before you walk out with it. I tend to favor buying at a place I can go back to, so geographic proximity is something I value…
Cool, it’s got the bigger frets too! I like those better.
The thing about sunburst or any other see through finish is the ones they show online always have pleasing wood grain and no obvious seams between the pieces of wood that make up the body. The one you actually get may have very plain wood and obvious joints. I’m a nut about my guitars having pretty wood so it’s something I really notice. The maple in the neck can have some cosmetically funky wood grain patterns too. It’s good if you can see clear photos of the exact guitar you are considering buying online or ordering through a dealer.
Hmm, I think about the cheap side of the guitar business most of the time. At the Squier and Epiphone price range and below, there’s never been a better time to buy a cheap guitar. The materials aren’t always a nice (some old cheapo guitars are made out of very nice hunks of wood), but the build quality is much better. A little money gets you a lot these days.
But the real Fenders usually all live above that price range. If I mentally compare the new ones that I’ve tried out to the old ones, I’d say they are generally still as good, if not better. If nothing else, the quality control is usually better. On the other hand, the truly horrible instruments that slipped out of the factory in the old days have usually been fixed or discarded by now.
Plus, old instruments just do this intangible thing that new instruments can’t do. The good news is that the instrument bought new this week eventually gets it if it survives 20 years. Old instruments die every day. So, new instruments have to be bought to keep this phenomenon happening.
But, as far as buying your guitar, I agree with the Capt that the feel determines whether you should buy that guitar or not. You’ve got to hold it in your hands and play it to know if it’s any good for your hands. My hands can’t really judge this for you, only yours can.
Either way, lots of people sell Fenders, and most will match other’s listed prices. I’d buy it from the place where you can try it out with the least hassle.
The guy that wrote that review mentioned tuning problems and that he solved the problem with a tuner upgrade. He may well have had bad tuners and if replacing them fixed it that’s great. BUT…for future reference…tuning trouble is often caused by the strings binding in the nut slots. Always check to make sure the strings are sliding freely in the nut slots before blaming the tuners.
I was referring to somewhat transparent finishes like SB, blonde and natural where you can see the grain of the wood. Sometimes a solid (opaque) color finish can reveal where the joints in a body are but usually only after the guitar is older and even then you have to hold it in the light just right and squint. In other words, nothing to worry about.
Another thing I like in a Strat is light-ish weight. Some people don’t care as much as I do but once I got a light one there was no going back to a heavy one. For me 7.5 lbs is fine, over 8 is a little too much and over 8.5 is out of the question.
I had a late 70s Strat that I never weighed but I’m sure now must have been close to 10lbs.
I have a Warmoth Strat replica I built that weighs 6.4lbs. It’s a hardtail, they tend to be lighter.
If you’re open to white check out Sweetwater. They have two white ones. Same price as the other places but I’ve heard good things about their service and they show the serial number and weight of the specific guitar you are looking at.