So what does a guitarnerd do when you think you’ve found your perfect guitar?
A few stories back, I wrote a guitarnerd story on my new sunburst Coronado Stratocaster. This was given to me by a friend of mine as thanks for some design work I’d done for him.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Strat’s as my first guitar was a red Squier Strat which I still own and love. I still think the Strat is a genius piece of design…
I also owned a 70′s Antigua Strat which looked and sounded great but played like a bad, heavy Les Paul. Which is great if it was a Les Paul, but not if it was a Strat. Which was a shame… it looked frikken’ awesome.
But this guitar is different. I am totally in love with it. I love everything about it. Mark has done a fantastic job creating this instrument.
First thing, it looks fantastic. The MJT finished body is beautiful, as is the original 60′s Fender neck. It’s not overly flashy… it looks like it’s been well loved and played. I know the body is relic’d… blah blah blah… but this guitar reminds me of Spencer P. Jones’ well loved white Strat. And the best thing is, I’m not scared of bumping into things and scratching it. I don’t even use a gig bag half the time… I just throw it into the back of my car before a gig.
Next up… the neck. Aah, that neck. It’s not a thin toothpick… it fills the hand nicely, but not too much. Which is good as I have little hands. It’s a ‘wrap your thumb round the top’ type of neck. And the fretboard is the best Brazilian rosewood I’ve ever seen. I’ve read that the really good stuff looks almost like brown ebony… with little grain and smooth as silk feel. This is THAT stuff.
Ask the Fender Custom Shop to make you this neck and see them look uncomfortably at each other and start shifting in their seats. Legally, they can’t. This quality Brazilian rosewood doesn’t exist any more and if it did, you can’t make guitars out of it. And those inlays are pure ‘Rowland S. Howard’ Jaguar.
Next up is the body. This is the fabled Tym Guitars featherweight body that Tim found in his body pile. (Guitar body pile… not actual body pile.) I’ve been after this body for years… I think the Strat scratchplate weighs more than the body. You think a Thinline Telecaster is light? Pfft. I laugh in your general direction. Strapped on, this Strat becomes a part of you. With no weight on your shoulder, you’re free to move and throw the guitar around to your hearts content. Again… this reminds me of Spencer’s white Strat, which also weighed close to bugger all.
Tremolo? A left handed early 80′s Gotoh tremolo with beautiful vintage style steel saddles. I thought the left handed tremolo thing was a gimmick, but it totally makes sense. It’s out of the way of the knobs and clears the guitar jack completely. And when you’re not using it, it swings totally out of the way. Stevie Ray Vaughan knew what he was doing. And the tremolo block. This thing is pure gun brass. Apparently they’re pretty rare… I know that unplugged, this Strat sounds exquisite, so this brass block doing something awesome. The only setback is that the block weighs more than the whole guitar…. I’m thinking of down the track buying a titanium tremolo block as apparently they have the same sonic qualities but weigh close to nothing. But $250 is a bit steep, so there’s no rush.
Last but not least… those amazing pickups. Mick Brierley is a master. I thought I knew what a Strat was supposed to sound like… THIS is what a Strat is supposed to sound like. The neck pickup sounds huge. It’s like the lipstick pickup in my Gibson SG. It has the fantastic clarity and bell like tone which I crave, but the big bottom end as well. And the fact I can blend it with the bridge pickup means that I have every sound I need. I’m continuously swapping and adjusting pickups on this between songs… loving ever minute of it. The only other guitar I’ve played that was like this was Tym’s 3 x P90 Rickenbacker.
These pickups make you a better player. Not just sound better… you PLAY better. You’re paying more attention with your notes… making sure they’re fretted clean and the bends are correct, because you can hear every element of the sound. The strike of the pick, the length of the sustain, the decay of the note. I cannot recommend these pickups enough. I did a comparison with my G&L SC3, which up until now I thought had the best single coils I’d heard. But next to the Brierleys, it was like I had put a blanket over my amp.
So yeah, I’m in love. And that brings with it a big question…. what do I do now? I’m probably never going to find another guitar that sounds and plays and looks this good. So in the future, would I just be buying guitars to look at… to have as a trophy? All the guitars I have, I got because I was searching for the ultimate guitar. I was trying to achieve that ultimate combination of looks, sound & playability. My Maton Apollo was pretty close (best Maton I’ve ever played) as was my G&L SC1 (the cool factor alone on the guitar is insane). But the Strat ticks all the boxes.
I don’t want to collect guitars like someone would collect stamps. Then it gets so that you’re buying certain guitars not to play, but so that other collectors don’t get them. What’s the point? That’s not right. It’s not a competition. It’s unfair to other players, as well.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop LOOKING at guitars… but I think now that I’ve reached a point that it’s going to have to be a pretty spectacular guitar for me to hand over my hard earned cash.
Saying that… there are two guitars on the horizon that I’m in the process of getting. Then I swear after that, I’ll stop. Promise.