High end Strat users, what makes them better than regular production Strats Tonewise.

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by michael.e, Mar 3, 2006.


  1. michael.e

    michael.e Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,813
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Half Moon Bay, CA
    I know about the looks and playability. What makes them sound better. What are you hearing? How does it translate to what you hear out of your amp. When you are solo'ing, what do you hear when you are digging in? Can you give me your overall impression as to why you decided to go high end.
    In your opinion what and how big is the difference between a $700.00 production Strat, a used $1,600.00 Strat and a used $2,300.00 Strat.

    Where do resonant qualities and overtones sit within these models?

    Play the same lead line through the same amp, using each guitar, what do you hear is the difference.

    Thanks,

    M.E.
     
  2. Colt

    Colt Member

    Messages:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2003
    I think playability should be given as much consideration as sound. You have to feel good on it to play good on it. My opinion anyway...

    looks...I don't really care. I'm getting ready to get a Nash tele (black, maple board) don't care how reliced etc......and then a month or so later...I'm getting a nash strat...don't even care what color, as long as it has a fat back and lindy fralin's...hahha....
     
  3. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

    Messages:
    14,662
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    In my journey through Strat-o-land, I've learned that each guitar has to be judged on its own merits, especially with less consistent Fender's. High end Strats will generally have better fit, finish, etc. but tone, while being very subjective, is generally all over the place. I've played $500 Strats that I felt sounded better than $2000+ boutique Strats....so that tells me that, when the right peices come together in one guitar, magic can happen....irregardless of price. IMO, there's not any one thing that makes Strat A sound better than Strat B....it's a sum of the parts thing. Even Strats with the same exact specs can sound very different.

    The bottom line is: only YOU know what a good Strat sound is to YOU. Some will agree with you and others won't....but it's your ears that need satisfied. Play 'em all and decide for yourself....but IMHO, you don't need to spend $2000+ (or even $1000 for that matter) for a good Strat. Run the racks....the gems are there....you just have to spend some time to let them find you.
     
  4. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,641
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Location:
    Fort Lee, NJ
    That about sums it up!!
     
  5. dave s

    dave s Member

    Messages:
    5,916
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Live playing behavior is my yardstick for measurement. My boutique strat stays in tune, plays great, sounds fantastic and behaves exactly as I expect a guitar should. And I paid accordingly for the service upgrade over an off-the-shelf F***er.

    What makes it perform like this? Better pickups, better electronics, higher quality tuning system, better trem system, better frets, bone nut--all of which translates to the better playing, better sounding guitar I wanted.

    My biggest beefs with MOST strats I've played are these: volume and tone controls don't work like I think they should, pickups are really difficult to balance if you want to use all three, (like I do) stock fender pickups are ice-picky at the bridge, most strats have no tone control there either, frets aren't dressed nearly as nicely as most of the boutique guitars, cheap plastic nuts, lower grade tuners and trem systems adversely affect tuning.

    I'll gladly pay the extra cash to have a better playing, better sounding guitar anyday!

    dave
     
  6. Seegs

    Seegs Member

    Messages:
    10,076
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    I've had a few strats over the years...some cheap and some expensive...one was made for me to my specs and the other was made for my ex-bandleader that I fell in love with and acquired via a trade which I still have...both used premium aged wood and had/have fat necks and would be considered expensive for a strat style guitar...I have nothing against inexpensive guitars if they are right but the cheap ones tended not to feel right and didn't stick around very long...

    I shot my strat out against all manner of custom shop Fenders and Warmouth parts guitars...some costing more and some less...and my custom build wasn't miles better than the others in terms of tone...

    but it kills em by miles as far as playability goes which is why I paid the extra premium...the neck my guy cuts great necks...right now I am still searching for the right set of pickups that will complete the deal and put my strat over the top tonally...I am pretty close but not quite there...when I get the pus right then I believe my guitar will hang with any and all comers...


    if I had to do it again I would get an ash body/maple boat neck strat with a hardtail which would kinda put it in tele land...

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  7. Thwap

    Thwap Member

    Messages:
    8,563
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2006
    Location:
    Tacoma, Wa
    More selective about wood used. Better attention to detail concerning quality. Maybe the Finish. Better quality electronics.

    I don't know really. As has been stated Strats, even of the same price level/category can sound/feel quite different.

    When I bought my EJ, I played it alongside a 60's closet classic, and the '54 50th Anniversary model. They all were good, the EJ was just the best for ME. You may have chosen one of the other two and been just as happy with your purchase.

    I did play all three through the same amp, a Mesa Lonestar, and IN THIS CASE, the 54 sounded warm and darker than the other two, not so much articulation, kinda creamy...for a strat anyway.

    The closet classic was a really nice guitar sounded just...well classic. Did all the standard strat stuff really well, sounded to my ears anyway much smoother that my American Standard, and played much nicer as well...almost bought it.

    The EJ was a lot better than both unplugged. Startling acoustic quality to that model. It sounded...I guess Raunchier than the other two when pushed, and once again...to my ears, more bell like when cleaned up. It's all such a personal thing, the tone quest. But all 3 of those guitars killed my American Standard, and I really love that guitar.
     
  8. B Vance

    B Vance Member

    Messages:
    1,978
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2004
    Location:
    OHIO
    +1...

    I completely agree. I played more than 100 different Standard Strats before I found "The One" for me. However, I haved found several "The One" when it came to the botique type Fenders. It's much easier to play the number game there as far as a higher percentage of "The Ones" per items produced. They have a much higher level of playability for me. Just my opinion.
     
  9. MVrider

    MVrider Member

    Messages:
    2,395
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Location:
    On an island far from Generica
    High end Strat users, what makes them better than regular production Strats Tonewise.

    The price.

    Your odds are better with the pricier stuff, but some of thsoe are dogs. Really expensive dogs. But eventually somebody buys 'em all.
     
  10. hendrix2430

    hendrix2430 Member

    Messages:
    1,229
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Location:
    Paris, France
    The infamous pink Shinderhuette? :BEER

    Ash/maple hardtail? I would go for alder/maple RW and trem...pfff, you have no taste sir! :eek:
     
  11. mischultz

    mischultz Member

    Messages:
    1,028
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Marietta, Georgia
    Playability (that's *so* not a word, but we all can agree on what it means) is a key factor for two reasons: first and foremost, you're gonna get more out of the primary tone generator - yourself - if you're more comfortable. Second, a properly built and adjusted instrument will intonate better and will have maximized the snap and sustain you can get by dialing in the saddle height and break angle.

    The other piece that I find tremendously important is fit and coupling. The more you spend, the higher the probability (not certainty or inevitability) of someone not only having chosen premium woods, but invested time in making certain that the loss of string energy is minimized. You're far less likely to find an ill-fitting neck pocket, a poorly adjusted tremolo or a nut that's pinching and dampening a string, all factors that can lessen a Strat's tonal responsiveness.

    Now, all those things will come together in a Mexican Strat on occasion, and if you have the patience to play through 30 or 40 in a sitting at GC, you may find a gem. You'll still want to replace hardware and such, but the point is it's not impossible at the lower end; but it is increasingly probable as you move up the ladder and as someone's personal reputation (John Suhr, Don Grosh, Gerard Melancon - they're not merely company logos) gets attached to your experience of a particular instrument.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  12. jtw

    jtw Member

    Messages:
    709
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Excellent post Michael. That was one of the most thought-out and reasonable posts i've read in a while.
     
  13. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

    Messages:
    2,924
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2005
    Location:
    Planet X
    They don't all sound better.

    If you want the best sounding Strat, go sort through as many as you can find - high end, low end, middle.

    You will probably find that the high end ones are more consistent, but the very best sound can come from anywhere.
     
  14. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,761
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    Amen to the idea of playing a bunch. I think 30 or 40 might be a bit extreme but not a futile exersize. The more strats you play the more you will realize what you like/dislike about the instrument.

    For my first strat, I used Guitar Center to my advantage. Always having been a Gibby guy, I really didn't know what I wanted out of the strat. So I went over to GC one Sunday and picked up a Squier Strat w/maple. The next Sunday I brought the Squier back and brought home an American Standard/rosewood (this was before Mexico). The next Sunday I tried a MIJ Reissue and decided that the vintage specs and rosewood board were more to my liking and kept that guitar for 5 years before going on a CS spree. You simply can't get the feel of a guitar (IMO) in a store setting. Take the thing home, crank it up, find out if there are any dead spots (very common in all strats). Try several different models.

    When you find the right one, you will know it.
     
  15. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,761
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    I've played a few Tylers and they played like a good strat--nothing more or less. To each his own I guess...

    Although yours is one of the few attractive Tylers I've seen I have to say.
     
  16. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,255
    Joined:
    May 4, 2003
    The running the racks game is fun but I think it's a huge placebo that's influenced by a variety of factors. There's a simple law that goes something like - pay more / get more. Defy it all you want but thieving bastards aside, it's sageness to the powah of ten.
     
  17. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,866
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    philadelphia
    if you compare a higher end strat, fender or otherwise, you tend to hear a few things that stand out:
    1) intonnation- a guitar with better nut cut, fret work, saddles and tuners, and set-up, will simply hold tuning and be more 'in-tune' all over the neck than a typical cheapy. This is a major component of sound obviously, and the perception of tone, as you really can't hear the tonal quality when playing chords and double stops if the thing is out of tune and beating all over the place.
    2) Most high end strat-types have a slightly beefed up or warmed up bridge pick-up, which makes the bridge only position more useful and less harsh, to most people it seems. Additionally most suhr, anderson, grosh etc, come wired with a tone pot to the bridge, whereas stock standard strats or re-issues won't, so you can more easily smooth out the sound of the bridge pu further.
    3) The higher end strats frequently have more 'fundamental' in the notes, or maybe less ghosting, unpleasant overtones, stratitis, hollow low notes,etc. - the notes just seem more solid.
    just a few differences I notice very consistently.
     
  18. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,761
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    In this hobby, you will go broke and insane thinking like that.
     
  19. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,255
    Joined:
    May 4, 2003
    There's the hierarchy of needs and then there's hobbies. I buy the best that I can afford and cross my fingers. I’m no elitist but I’ve learned my lessons fussing with bush league.
     
  20. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,761
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    Sure, I can agree to that. But there are some who will preach all day long about how a Gibson or a Fender is horrible off the wall. Some? Sure. But to tell a guy looking for a good strat that he's going to have to drop $2500 or so in order to find quality is wrong I believe. If you know what you are looking for and know tone and know a good neck when you play it, a very serviceable strat can be had for under a grand. Heck, I've played a few Jimmie Vaughans that were great and they run $600 or so. And this from a man with a $2000 strat.

    Believe me, the difference between a $2000 strat with special order hand wound pickups/a brazilian board/nitro finish/Callaham hardware and a good JV strat off the wall isn't as pronounced as you might think. Is there one? Yes. Is a little more talent going to make up for that difference? You betcha.
     

Share This Page