I got my second EJ Strat yesterday, it's nicer than my first. First, the nitro is much dryer. Second, the neck has a nice flame to it. And third, it's Candy Apple Red...not that I can hold that against the first one. I believe it's a tad better overall, but it also feels better in my hands (because the nitro is dryer I beleve). I'm wondering if Fender revised the drying process/time? My SN on the first one is in the 2000s, the 2nd one 9000s. Anyway, it's a great guitar and will be played a ton more than my first (nothing against the first). I'm also partial to red.