I love guitars. I love happy guitars and angry guitars and shiny guitars and ugly guitars. Hopefully, this is the first installment of a series of blogs discussing the pros and cons of certain types of guitars and what makes them awesome or not so awesome.
The Classic Strat
The Stratocaster was created in 1954 by Fender, featuring 3 pickups, a single piece maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and an ash body (but was changed to alder in 1956). The pickups were single coils with a 3-way pickup selector, able to select the neck, middle, or bridge pickups individually. Players of the "Strat" eventually found that jamming the selector in-between the 1 and 2, or 2 and 3 positions would engage two pickups at a time, achieving different tones. In 1977 Fender released a 5-way pickup selector and a reverse polarity middle pickup to reduce the hum caused by the single coils. Originally, It was special because of its versatile tonality and double cut-away design. The Strat also featured a body that conformed better to the player with its smoothed curves - a stark contrast from the rigid bodied Telecaster.
What's Good: The Strat has a versatile tone that can be used in most any genre of music. It has a super-famous sound because it has been used by so many notable people. Old models were built solidly. This is good for someone looking for that classic sound but meddles in everything.
What's Not Good: When you get one, you'll want a vintage or an authentic re-issue from the Fender Custom Shop, which is going to be a minimum of $3k assuming you get one that was manufactured yesterday. A true vintage will cost a small fortune. If you have a floating tremolo, you can literally rip the bridge out of your guitar eeee...The Strats that you see at Guitar Center for $999 are usually worthless. They will pump out a similar sound, but the build quality isn't there. They have a super cheap neck-feel. You can get a better guitar for less. Being such a widespread guitar, a Strat will make you look like everyone else.
The Over-the-top Strat
Ibanez S series
It seems a little far fetched to call this a "Strat," but it was crafted with the same idea. The S series is the insane cousin in the Strat guitar family. I'm pretty sure Ibanez had insane people in mind when they released this guitar. I'm a bit prejudice in this regard because anytime I think of the S series I immediately think of Herman Li, lead guitarist of Dragonforce, and his Ibanez EGEN, which is a spawn from the S series and the "ninja" of guitars.
What's Good: If you're the kind of player that craves super tight, smooth action anywhere on the fret board and plays at insane speeds, this is your guitar. Typically they're of a high build quality and come in unique looks. The tonality of these guitars is commonly used for shredding faces off of innocent bystanders. Also, they have Floyd Rose (now ZR) systems that alleviate the bridge-ripping-out-of-the-freaking-body-of-the-freaking-guitar issue. They also have a SUPER slim neck (17mm at 1st fret) that, to many players, is a definite playing luxury. If it says "Prestige" on it, it's a good guitar.
What's Not So Good: As it turns out, everyone isn't Herman Li (huh weird right?), and people enjoy a little more normal-ness to their playing. Some of the S series has a wider range of tonality, but, when it comes right down to it, these are mainly used for metal. Being a "Strat" style it's going to have a lighter sound than a heavier guitar, which may not be your thing. You can get one of these for around $700, but the ones you ACTUALLY WANT are north of $1500. Also, if it says the letters "GIO" on it run, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!
The Budget Strat
This guitar isn't nearly as special as the other 2 but does have its advantages! The Schecter C-1 is sincerely a budget conscious guitar. You can probably get one used for around $300, and in decent shape. With Schecter, however, it's a little hit or miss. But some models have a very friendly feel and exceptional build quality, especially in relation to the price.
What's Good: The C-1 typically comes with a set neck, which is harder to fix if something does indeed need adjusting, but provides better sustain and - to me - a more solid presence in your hands. It has a great fret feel to it and comfort while playing; it's versatile in its own right. Also there are different variations like the Hellraiser and Blackjack (pictured) that come in the "C" shape, which are available with active EMG pickups (and the new Sustainic in the Blackjacks). All models are available with a hardtail or Floyd Rose tailpiece, and you can get the body shape as a V, Solo (Les Paul), Coffin, SG, or 'Avenger' styles (Synyster Gates-y) if you think the Strat style is too boring. The best thing about it is the price, I would shell out the $799 for a Blackjack SLS before I spent $999 on a new Strat any day of the week.
What's Not So Good: As per the C-1 Standard, it's lacking in the pickup department. They're a little muddy to me and have a so-so tone. This can be avoided by upgrading to a Blackjack that features active Seymour Duncan Blackouts, which provide a much better tonality. If you want something passive, the Blackjack SLS features either passive or active pickups, a big jump from the original C-1. If you want something even harsher while retaining passive pickups, hookup some invaders. Other than that, the build is good, FOR THE PRICE. This isn't a 'whoaaalookatthatguitar!' company, it's a manufacturer that produces good mid-range guitars that offer good value.
I want to write about more guitars, but this is a long blog for me! Stay tuned for the next Guitar Showdown! (If there is one :D).