American Deluxe HSS S1 vs Eric Johnson Strat

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by musicmind, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. musicmind

    musicmind Member

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    Hi guys

    I had a chance to play the American Deluxe HSS with the S1 button. I found it has a very nice smooth sound, with plenty of strat personality still in there.

    I have heard great things about the Eric Johnson strat but unfortunately my shop doesnt have them in stock. It seems from the opinions here, the EJ strat is one of the best strats available.

    I have looked at the Fender website and I have noted the physical differences between the American Deluxe HSS S1 and EJ strat, obviously the humbucker on the deluxe, different finish (nitro vs polyurethane), C profile neck vs V profile neck, 12 inch radius vs 9.5 inch radius, and different pickups.

    How would you compare the sound and the "playability" of these two guitars in your opinions?

    Thanks for all your input :)
     
  2. musicmind

    musicmind Member

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    Where are all the strat connoisseur's to give their opinions ? ;)

    Cheers
     
  3. BSHARP

    BSHARP Member

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    I think it is a matter of personal taste. I've had a variety of Strats and each one had something to offer. The HSS is a good choice for a variety of music and the HB in the bridge is nice to have. The EJ strat is a nice guitar, but I personally didn't like the finish on the neck and like the EC Strat, I didn't like the price tag. As of late I've been playing the JV Strat. There is a lot said on this board about both the JV and the EJ Strats.
     
  4. musicmind

    musicmind Member

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    Thanks Bsharp

    I have searched and seen the great things said about the Jimmie Vaughan strat. I havent played that one, also not at my local shop :(

    I have heard some folks find the EJ strat neck "sticky" at first or too "glossy" for some tastes.
    I am looking for a versatile guitar, for use in blues and jazz type playing, and to me the Deluxe sounded mellow enough to be usable for some jazz tones.

    But with all the positive comments about the Eric Johnson, I thought I'd ask the experienced hands (and ears) here to see how they compare these two guitars. Perhaps I'm going to wish I had gotten the EJ instead, if it is really as good as everyone says it is.

    What do you folks think about the RLS roller nut on the American Deluxe?Does it give a similar sound to the guitars with a brass nut?

    Looking forward to your comparitive comments on these two guitars....Thanks :)
     
  5. Mike Duncan

    Mike Duncan Member

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    I personally do not like the "modern" Fender guitars. Every piece of Fender equipment I own, though not vintage, is vintage styled. I've got an EJ Strat and really like it. I'm not a maple neck guy, so I'm still getting used to that aspect of the guitar, but it's really a homerun for Fender - IMO.

    I just don't care for the form or function of the new Fender hardware or the finishes. They're great for those that I comfortable with them, I'm just not a fan. I like the vintage Strat trem - it's like it resonates better than the two point trem on the newer guitars. The finish is very Custom Shop like on the EJ and the pickups sound great.

    Go with what you feel most comfortable with and what is pleasing to your eyes. Good luck!

    Mike
     
  6. stratus

    stratus Supporting Member

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    I bought a sunburst EJ at 7.4 lb's from Wildwood guitars about a year ago and been using it a my #1. I've been playing strats as my main axe for about 30yr's now and had them all.This is hands down the best vintage type strat I have played.The tone is to die for.For the last ten years I've been using Fralin Vintage Hot's.I liked the guitar so much , I bought another at 7.5 lb's in black and ab'd the Fralin's against the stock EJ pups and guess what , I sold both sets of my Fralins and never looked back.Everything , to my taste is of the highest quality on this guitar. Give it a go.
     
  7. pedalcr8z

    pedalcr8z Member

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    I also own a EJ and feel it's in a different league than ANY of their other production models. I have heard comments from dealers that feel they are right there with the Custom Shop models. One thing I'd like to add for your consideration is the fact that TYPICALLY if a guitar was designed around single coils, it sounds best that way. In my mind both Strats and Teles are the epitomy of single coil design and should be left alone if you really want that sound they are famous for. Sure they offer both with a bucker option but my point is it is not the sound that each prospective model is famous for.....they lose their character so to speak.
     
  8. bullet69

    bullet69 Member

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  9. musicmind

    musicmind Member

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    Hi again guys

    Thanks to all of you who posted your thoughts here, it is much appreciated :)

    I did get a chance to play the Eric Johnson recently and it certainly is a very classy instrument. I think the thing that got my attention the most is the neck and its nitro finish. The only other strat that I can compare its sound to somewhat is the SRV strat, but I didnt get to play them through the amp or the same shop. The pickups are definitely quite "hot" in that SRV-way to my ears.

    The Am. Deluxe that I am considering versus the EJ is this one :
    http://www.zzounds.com/item--FEN101502
    (the pic shows the bridge humbucker as a Seymour Duncan)

    The price difference between the two is quite a bit in my country (almost 600 dollars).
    In your opinions, do the "modern" features of the Am. Deluxe, like the RLS roller nuts, noiseless pickups and the modern tremolo unit offer no tangible improvement over the vintage-style components in the EJ strat? Will they both stay in tune equally well? If so, then I'm left wondering if the "modern" features are mostly gimmicks.

    Soundwise both are fantastic, the EJ would probably really shine for playing punchy texas blues. The Am Deluxe pickups sounded a little less punchy so I can understand the "vintage strat" fans maybe wont prefer them.

    Also, how much did you folks pay for your new EJ strats? I see Fender has the retail price at around $2300 but I've seen it selling for $1600 on some US sites.

    Thanks again. Looking forward to joining the Fender owners club soon :D .
     
  10. Jack The Riffer

    Jack The Riffer Member

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    Happy EJ owner here with this thought: If you go with the American Deluxe don't think of it as a 'lesser' guitar because it's not, it's just different. The Deluxe is a top notch git in it's own right.
     
  11. Dan Desy

    Dan Desy Supporting Member

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    I'd go with the Deluxe HSS. But I prefer the modern strat to the vintagey one. I have a Am Deluxe (SSS), and I really like it, tone and feel wise.
     
  12. dzeitlin

    dzeitlin Member

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    I feel the EJ is the best production Fender, and rivals a lot of CS stuff I've had/played. I wasn't crazy about the pickups (great tone, not enough output), but it's such a great guitar, that almost any pickups sound good in it.
     
  13. Hamer Player

    Hamer Player Senior Member

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    Given a choice between those 2 Strats I'd take the HSS.
     
  14. Dan Desy

    Dan Desy Supporting Member

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    Can I change my vote? ;)
     
  15. musicmind

    musicmind Member

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    Hi, thanks again for all the feedback

    Sure Dan, why not, life is too short to only have just one of anything :)
    BTW, I had a look at your gear page, you have the 50th anniversay "golden" Am Deluxe, very pretty indeed.

    I played one of those recently, selling second hand, the asking price was more than a brand new EJ strat.

    I'm kind of favouring getting the Am Deluxe for its modern features, but the EJ is a tough guitar to turn your back on :)
     
  16. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Supporting Member

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    musicmind

    I have both an EJ and a Deluxe SSS. My Deluxe has the S1 and rosewood fretboard.

    I can't say as I only own two of them but based on what I have experienced and discussions with my dealer (who I trust), the impression is get is this:

    The Deluxe is a quality guitar. YOu can get some very nice strat tones and it is very smooth and good quality throughout. It can be a little bit hit or miss on setup which can be resolved. Overall an excellent guitar.

    The EJ is one of Fenders better jobs. My dealer says he has yet to have to change a thing on any ot these he has recieved. The setup is always perfect and the quality excellent. It suffers from the vintage hum common in single coils but it gains with glorious vintage strat tone.

    IN a nutshell - both good guitars it is more a matter of taste. But the biggest difference once you get the Deluxe perfectly setup is tone. Do you prefer the newer smoother S1 tone or the vintage strat tone?

    BTW, what country are you in? I split time here in the US and in Thailand. When I wanted a good guitar in Thailand I bought my second EJ. Since the number of luthiers and dealers is limited there I wanted a sure bet. So far so good. But I really wish I coulda bought it for the same price they sell them for here. OUCH.
     
  17. musicmind

    musicmind Member

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    Hey jimmybcool

    Thanks for those comments, especially you having both of the guitars made it a meaningful comparison.

    Like you say, both are great guitars and it is down to personal taste of what tones you want. Hopefully, like yourself, I will get to have both :)

    Which one do you find more versatile, ie useful for getting blues, rock and even some "smooth jazz" tones ? I have a feeling the Am Deluxe is more flexible. The hum is an issue, it would be nice to have a quiet set of pickups.

    My shop will be setting up the guitar for me, so I will get a decent set of 11 guage strings, and have them adjust the intonation and action before I take it home :)

    The contoured heel on the Am Deluxe is also a great feature for higher register access which I would like very much.

    Thanks for your comments
     
  18. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Supporting Member

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    Musicmind,

    I am going to be castigated here but I actually like the S1 switching with the rosewood a bit more. I like the smoother tone. If you are a professional rocker on stage with big amps and a band the EJ might offer a more rocking vintage vibe than the Deluxe. But I find it hard to believe you would be disappointed in a Deluxe. I have not tried a HSS one but to be honest I prefer mostly neck or neck/mid tones anyway.

    I know what you mean about price. In Thailand there is one, ONE, official Fender dealer. If you buy Fender products you get them from this ONE dealer. Add to that high tarriffs and shipping expenses and the end result is the prices are about USA List price.

    I bought an EJ locally in the USA for $1500 all in. My Thai EJ cost me $1900. Some folks wonder why I didn't buy here and take it with me as checked luggage. Problem is customs at that end. If they spot it they can either charge import duty, or if I say it is personal use on vacation and I'm taking it home with me mark my passport with the serial number of it and requirement that I DO take it home. And I don't trust the airlines to ship back and forth 3 times a year.

    Of course to complicate things I am considering trading my EJ in the states already. My dealer has this sweet Custom Shop strat with Texas Special pups and in Chrome Red and a flamed maple neck. Dayum. I'm slobbering now :D
     
  19. ronmail65

    ronmail65 Supporting Member

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    I vote for the American Deluxe HSS.

    I've had a half dozen different strats over the years and I really like the American Deluxe HSS!! At present they are my only 2 strats. I play a lot of rock / hard rock -- they sound great and stay in tune when using the tremolo (without the locking tremolo complications). I credit this to the locking tuners and roller nut. I had a strat Ultra about 7 years ago which is basically the same guitar but with Lace Sensor pups. A few years after parting with it, I realized that I wanted another one but with different pups so this guitar was perfect.

    Actually one of my strats is called a 'Crimson Mahogany' stratocaster which, as I understand it, is an exclusive run for Guitar Center. It is exactly an American Deluxe strat made with a solid mahogany body with a crimson red transparent finish. I swapped out the bridge pup with a DiMarzio SD-1. It's a killer. I bought new for around $1,000. Relative to other guitars, for the quality and features, I think it's a great buy as well.

    If you play rock, I highly recommend the DiMarzio SD-1. Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) and Glen Tipton (Judas Priest) both played strats in the late '70's/early '80's with DiMarzios -- and I thought they sounded awesome. So I took my first strat (a 1982 USA standard) to the shop where they routed out the bridge area and installed an SD-1. I wish I still had that guitar -- it sounded better than the guitars I have now!! To this day, that was the fattest and hottest sounding guitar I ever heard!!
     
  20. ronmail65

    ronmail65 Supporting Member

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    By the way...as a follow up to my post above... I could care less about the S-1 switching. For me, it's on all the time.
     

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