I've been keeping my eyes out for a strat for the past six months or so. I've played a lot of them in music stores around town. Some of the ones I've liked the most were a few Hamertones (one I really really liked, but I dithered and someone else bought it), and every EJ I played was very nice. I was generally underwhelmed by the Fender Custom Shop's I played with one exception. That one was probably the nicest strat I played during the whole period, but at $3000 it was out of my price range. The real surprises were the Japanese strats. Most of them were in the $500 range and so when I picked them up I didn't have particularly high hopes. Then I would play them and do a double take. The necks were always really special. I even liked a couple of them more than high end strats costing more than twice as much. It seemed like everytime a reasonably priced strat had mojo, it turned out to be Japanese. I guess I really connect with the neck carves on the Japanese models. Since I had a little extra scratch to burn, and it seemed like I really connected with the Japanese strats, I decided to order a high end one from Ishibashi. I figure if I like the middle of the road ones as much as Custom Shops (more actually with that one exception) and EJ's, a high end one would be that much better. We will see. So I ordered one of the new ST54-120DMC's. Nitro finish, V neck, vintage radius and frets (which I like), two toned sunburst, and Dimarzio Classical Vintage pickups. I've never heard of those pickups and the Dimarzio website has no info on them, but I have a set of Fralin's I can swap in if they suck. BTW, can anyone tell me why Japanese reissues have '54 and '57 backwards. The '54's have V-shaped necks and the '57's have U-shaped necks.