I bought one today, on hearing them for the first time. I've owned everything from Grosh to Custom Shop Fenders, Zions to PRS, Gibson, etc. I've never thought I'd buy another Fender Stratocaster -- let alone a standard model. Whow. This thing sounds extra good. I played three, and one sounded the best. In fact, so good, I just bought it. For 960 out the door including tax -- why not? The case is totally cool also. I got olympic white with maple board, and I'm totally digging it. Notably, I think the bridge/trem block makes a big difference in tone, as with the thinner overall finish. It's all about resonance -- and this baby has it. I've never heard such warmth/fullness of tone from a brand new maple/alder Stratocaster. Yes, it does have that clarity that you get if you tried a Callaham trem block (which I've done several times.) Now you don't need that upgrade. The pickups are rather low output for that vintage Strat quack and sharpness -- not much meat. Sound good though.