What is it that defines a good guitar? Is it the sound it makes? Is it the way it feels in your hands? Is it how it looks? Is it some kind of abstract quality that you just can't put your finger on but know it when you pick one up?
Honestly, I think it involves all those qualities to some extent, but there exists a company today that seems to be producing guitars that have almost none of these qualities. That company is, *cough* Fender...
For all of you still with me, about 37% of the guitar playing community, you know - the guys that actually play your guitars. Please understand that this blog is about all the things I see wrong with Fender today. I've picked up a strat or a tele from the golden years and enjoyed it.
But! Here is what I mean...
Before I ever started playing, I was under the assumption that Telecasters were amazing. Why? Because I read a book (whoa) where the main character owned one and touted it as an amazing piece of musical equipment. Then, I picked one up, and this is what I found.
The Good: It looked old. When I had this guitar in my hands, it definitely gave off that "Hey, I play the guitar like a 80 year old man in a rundown bar" feeling. SOME poeple might like how the guitar feels on the fretboard. Theses guitars are awesome for having the crap kicked out of them and being taken on the road! If you need a replacement part for a Telecaster, the parts are so common that you might trip over what you need before you get to your car to go to Guitar Center.
The Bad: It felt like a McDonald's toy. The strings felt like water, against the fretboard. I don't even know how that's possible! The body shape is undeniably ugly and has no conforming curves to it, just flat rigid sides. I think the biggest downer is the hollow sound that these guitars produce. I understand that some people are going for that sound, but, as per versatility, I'm not sure the single coil does it for me. This can be solved with the humbucking TeleDeluxe, but then, why are we buying a tele in the first place? Also, I'm not a huge fan of the 1 piece maple neck, or the lack of a separate fretboard, or the headstock. It's nonsense.
Oh my...the stratocaster. Let me first off tell you how much I appreciate the people that play these guitars and what the classic strat design has done for the music business as a whole. It's a lot! There are some guys that will rock their beaten-to-death strat until the cows come home, and that's just fine. The general shape of the strat has inspired countless designs from different luthiers that constantly change and improve on the original.
The Good: The best thing that you're going to get from a strat is the classic strat sound. Run one of these things through a ds-1 and a Bluesman, and you'll have an automatically recognizable sound! Also, if you're one of those people who like having a guitar that doesn't look special in any way, THIS GUITAR IS GREAT! The sound that these guitars make isn't terrible by any means, but they leave something out in the low frequencies. That being said, let's not forget it is a Fender. It's versatile in it's own right, just not my guitar of choice.
The Not So Good: I can NOT get around the stupid neck feel of this guitar! I have no idea how to describe it. If the Tele feels like I'm playing on water, this feels like I am playing on nails. The fingerboard contact just feels super cheap to me. At least with the Tele you're on speaking terms with the neck, but with a new-age Strat it's like you're screaming at a 2x4, expecting it to talk back to you. I'm not a huge fan of the Strat "classic look" either. The output is dumb and slantly and weird. The headstock, although different from the Tele, is still wrong! Can't fender make a headstock that doesn't look like a used toothpick or like it came from a cartoon? Also, I'm pretty sure these guitars cost all of 7 cents to manufacture because the build quality is somewhere between subpar and terrible.