I have been enjoying an Eric Johnson Signature Stratocaster since Wednesday April 27th. Id like to share my subjective opinions and give you some objective measurements. I have been a big EJ fan since first seeing him in April 1979. I didnt expect to get an EJ Strat quite this soon after it was announced, however, the anticipation got the better of me, and I was fortunate to find a Black one in stock at Musicians Friend the previous Saturday when the G.A.S. attack struck. Knowing the EJ tone, it came as no surprise that this guitar would be capable of producing a brite tone with harmonic sparkle. Given sufficient skill and Im still working on that! it is easy to create the cascading harmonics, simulated Koto and other tones EJ is known for when using this guitar. Pinch harmonics are very easy. Yet, this guitar isnt thin or harsh. I would say it has a medium body with good, but not overpowering bass -- just the way I like it. I look forward to the nitro finish curing and hardening as these desirable properties will only get better. It came with what appear to be 10-46 nickel plated steel strings. (The specs call for 10-52, but theres no way these strings are that big on the bottom.) The bridge was setup to be floating 3/32, with 5 springs. However, I prefer the bridge down to the body, so I immediately adjusted the setup and intonation. Action height was low, just under 4/64, without buzzing when picking moderately. I raised it slightly, more so toward the 6th string as I play fingerstyle sometimes. PICKUPS The 54 style AL3 neck pickup has relatively weaker magnets than the AL5 middle and bridge. It measures 5.9K resistance. Whether clean or distorted, it rings with clarity. Yes, the pole pieces are slightly larger than the other two, .21 vs. .195 to be exact. I had always wondered how EJ got that certain lightly distorted rhythm tone with his Fender amps. This neck pickup is probably a big part of the equation. I rarely use the middle pickup by itself. In combination with the neck or bridge, it helps produce an excellent quack that has more top end presence than Im used to with most other pickup sets. I like that, since it will mean I dont have to fidget with the tone control when switching from the neck to #4 position. The middle PU measures 6.5K. The bridge pickup is clear and articulate, and even with its dedicated tone control full up, it isnt harsh. It measures 6.4K. I usually roll off some treble on a Strat bridge pickup, so having the guitar already wired for this was a pleasure. I got some of the best tones yet from a Germino Club 40. This guitar and bridge pickup mated well with a Cornish G2 for that plexi meltdown tone at a reasonable volume through the Club 40. Again, it is capable of getting easier pinch harmonics than Im used to. All pickups were adjusted around 7.5/64 from the 1st string side pole piece and 9/64 on the 6th. This was measured with the string pressed at the 12th fret. When I change the strings, Ill pull the pickguard to confirm if these are special 375K pots as Ive seen mentioned in another review. NECK The neck measures .860 behind the 1st fret and .960 behind the 12th. Nut width at the 1st fret is 1.675 (closer to 1-11/16 than 1-5/8) and the neck is 2.03 at the 12th fret. It has a very slight V that becomes a C around the 8th fret. I found the neck shape comfortable, though I would actually prefer a bit more V and overall neck thickness. As many have mentioned, the finish is quite sticky. I plan to go over it with a bit of Naptha on an old rag, which is supposed to quickly get rid of the sticky feel. Later, I might give it the MicroMesh treatment to create a satin finish. The frets are not as tall as I would like! They measure about .042 high and .105 wide. This was one of the surprises of this guitar. While they arent as short as vintage frets, they certainly arent as tall as new 6105 or 6100, which are about .055 high. The medium fret height in combination with the sticky finish means the playability isnt as good as it can be. The frets are crowned and polished very well, especially for a production guitar. By the way, several of the boxes on the QC hang tag are marked CS, which implies the Custom Shop, for what thats worth. The neck wood is sturdy. It takes a LOT of effort to get any pitch change by bending the neck. The maple is about as perfectly straight grained as Ive ever seen, and though lacking any figure, the fingerboard surface has a sheen resembling tiny fish scales from the all the little facets in the wood. I like it! BODY The tummy and forearm cuts arent as deep as I expected based on the stated specs for this guitar. Id say they are just average. The black finish is mirror smooth and I could see no flaws. After comparing with another S-guitar that weighs 7.2 lbs, I estimate the weight on the EJ Strat at 7.25 to 7.5 pounds. (The next time I go to Fedex Ill take it and weight it on their scale.) The neck pocket is tight. TUNERS I like these tuners. Besides the staggered height, the string slots get progressively smaller going from the 6th to the 1st strings. The ferrules around each tuner post are very tightly pressed into the headstock and fit the post snugly. They are smooth and backlash free. BRIDGE The string ball ends actually stick out a little bit on the steel block. Ive not seen this before. With the Callaham trem block, for example, the ball end inserts deep enough that it is flush with the end of the block. The saddles have the typical Fender trait that the slots the strings pass through arent long enough to clear the string, causing a break angle and potential breakage point. The Callaham saddles are better, imo. Fortunately, the intonation screw lengths are all matched to the target action height such that they are flush, or barely stick up above the saddles. CONCLUSIONS This guitar is pleasing in a number of ways. It has fabulous pickups that help produce the EJ tone if youve got the amps (and CHOPS!) to go with them. The weight is comfortable. The tuners, bridge, controls and other tweaks are just what youd do to make your reissue 57 Strat a better guitar. Intonation and tuning stability are first class. I wish the frets were taller, and I cant wait for the finish to cure. It is an excellent Alder/Maple Strat, even if you arent into Eric Johnson. Id say the quality represents a great value in the Fender line. Youll have to spend a lot more money on a new boutique guitar to equal or exceed the quality, and you still wont get those fine pickups. By comparison, it doesnt have the MOJO of a Morgaine 57 that I was fortunate to find used recently. The Morgaine has a satin finished neck that goes from .980 to 1, with a 1.63 nut and more pronounced V gradually going to a C taper. I love this neck! The body has deep tummy and forearm cuts. The tuners are locking vintage-style staggered Gotoh Kluson. The previous owner put in some Alan Hamel 54 pickups and NOS tone controls and caps. The bridge has a Callaham block and Allparts titanium saddles. The fretwork was PLEKd by Joe Glaser. OK, so this is a hand-made guitar with hours and hours of extra TLC applied to it. Of course it is better than the EJ Strat. But honestly, not that much better! Bought new, the Morgaine 57 and all the tweaks would cost more than twice the EJ Strat, and be hard to get. The EJ is readily available with only a short wait. I think Fender has a winner with this guitar. I give many thanks to EJ and his tone-partners at Fender for laboring to bring it to the market. I wish theyd done it sooner. This is the guitar that I tried unsuccessfully to make my 89 reissue 57 become. EJ You da Man!