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Was '91 a good year for American Strats ?

still.ill

Member
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3,240
I had my heart set on a 2009 American Black Strat, but then a certain red 91 strat caught my eye....Damn I thought the Alnico 2009 strat pu's sounded good with gain, the 91 strat bridge single coil sounded even better with gain. Completely avoided the thin bridge single coil sound.

I did some research and found out the 91 strats seem to be looked down upon? for their poplar bodies. However, (sorry to say) I'm not really into the whole vintage strat tones, buddy holly peggy sue tones, so perhaps the upside of poplar is because it lends itself to more aggressive tone?

I know nothing about strats at all so correct me if i'm wrong.
However if you had a choice would you get the 91 strat or 2009 strat?
 

bluesjuke

Disrespected Elder
Messages
24,146
I never heard of '91 Strats being made of poplar, least not American Standards.
The ones I've played were alder.
I played a bunch in '91 looking to buy but ended up with a still new in the store '89 model that the '91 were the same to.
 

rummy

Silver Supporting Member
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8,570
Get the one that lets you play better. I don't think there's any attachment to the '91s or the '09s to my knowledge.
 

still.ill

Member
Messages
3,240
Get the one that lets you play better. I don't think there's any attachment to the '91s or the '09s to my knowledge.
The 09 had slightly better action, but i liked the 91's sound better..... the great dilemma.
But the shop includes a free setup if i buy so I think I could probably just show them the two strats and get the 91 to play like the 09.

Beats having to spend money for a hotter bridge pickup.
 

kenneth

Member
Messages
931
If it was an american standard from 91, it was an alder body. There was also ash bodied standards, but these had transparent finishes generally. I am not aware of any poplar-bodied american standards.

One major difference (for me), is that the neck profile is generally thinner on the more recent american standards, as compared to the late 80's / early 90's, that had a thicker profile.

So you may want to investigate which neck profile works better for you, if you have a preference.

Personally, I have no bias towards any particular era of the post-1986 american standards, I have owned several and they have all been strong guitars.
 

83stratman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,217
Yes Poplar was used...

QUESTION: Did Fender ever use it on their higher end USA guitars, such as the Strat Plus and the Strat Plus Deluxe back in 1990-1993???

Dan Smith: "For a while, the environmentalists didn't want us cutting alder. There was an endangered species controversy, with some logging restrictions up in Oregon, so we had to use poplar. Leo had used it on many guitars "— Musicmasters and others "— and we later used it for the Bullet guitars. It's a good wood. We used it on some American Standards in the early '90s. From the beginning, poplar was spec'd to be used on the American Standard as a substitute."

George Blanda: "All the Strat bodies were alder up until about 1990. When it got so hard to get alder, we were faced with either using poplar or not making guitars. There's a misconception that poplar is not a good tone wood. Actually, it's fine. James Burton actually specified it for his signature Tele in the late '80s, after trying a lot of different bodies. We never regarded poplar as a second-rate wood, but a lot of people preferred alder so when the restrictions eased, we were able to go back to alder in '93 or '94."
 

still.ill

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3,240
Ah! I did do my research after all. So maybe im onto something with the poplar being better for more modern tones...
 

joeybsyc

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1,899
I never heard of '91 Strats being made of poplar, least not American Standards.
The ones I've played were alder.
.
If it was an american standard from 91, it was an alder body. There was also ash bodied standards, but these had transparent finishes generally. I am not aware of any poplar-bodied american standards.

Well you have now... Yes, they were mostly (*if not all) poplar bodies in 1991, and were also veneered bodies. Not just sunburst ones either, ALL of them, including solid colors. Nothing wrong with that though, I have a 1991 American Standard I bought new and still own... as well as a few dozen others, and the 91 is as good or better than most of them. I will say my particular 91 has an exceptionally thin neck profile. I don't know if all 91's were this way or if I just got a thin one as the older American Standards and newer American Standards all have fatter necks than my 91. I agree with your assessment of the crunchier/grittier tone of the 91 to the 09.. Can't tell you that it has anything to do with the body, I'd tend to think it's the pickups.. but with all that said, I'd take another '91 over a 2009 if they're both in similar condition...but that's just me.





 
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fjwiv

Member
Messages
495
I have a 91 as well and yes the neck is tiny. Great guitar that has been in my collection a long time.
 

still.ill

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3,240
Well you have now... Yes, they were mostly (*if not all) poplar bodies in 1991, and were also veneered bodies. Not just sunburst ones either, ALL of them, including solid colors. Nothing wrong with that though, I have a 1991 American Standard I bought new and still own... as well as a few dozen others, and the 91 is as good or better than most of them. I will say my particular 91 has an exceptionally thin neck profile. I don't know if all 91's were this way or if I just got a thin one as the older American Standards and newer American Standards all have fatter necks than my 91. I agree with your assessment of the crunchier/grittier tone of the 91 to the 09.. Can't tell you that it has anything to do with the body, I'd tend to think it's the pickups.. but with all that said, I'd take another '91 over a 2009 if they're both in similar condition...but that's just me.





that is one awesome looking guitar. yeah the shop guy said the 91 pickups are hotter too.
 

LanEvo

Member
Messages
696
Early '90s Am Standard Strats had poplar bodies, "swimming pool" pickup routs, 2-post trems with sintered saddles, and TBX tone control. Some people say they're slightly darker sounding than newer models.

There were also "Strat Plus" models, which had roller nut, Sperzel tuners, and Lace Sensor pickups. They also offered some different colors, including semi-translucent finishes.
 

StratoCraig

Member
Messages
3,216
Interesting. I had known the early MIM Strats used poplar, but I hadn't heard the American Standards did too.

I have a '92 MIM Strat with a poplar body. It's fine. For those who value the "acoustic tone" of a solid-body electric guitar, I'd say that my poplar Strat's unamplified tone is actually richer and fuller than either my alder Strat or my ash Strat.
 
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tamader74

Member
Messages
3,675
If you check on some old Fender info. sheets, you will see that the American Strat.'s and Tele.'s were described in their spec sheets as Alder or Poplar in wood description's.

I think a lot of the controversy is pure Bunk, as I find that the older Strat.'s/Tele.'s just as good OR better than the newer one's,...and sometimes Visa/Versa,...TRUE there are some dogs in any pound,...But unless you can 'see thru', or have the ability to 'smell' the difference between Alder and Poplar, Buy the one YOU like the best.

Sometimes a LOT of false info. is spread just like a bad virus,...it's spread thru the reading of some idiot that did a interview for a Rag-Mag, had a little to much of 'something', tells the interviewer whatever he/she thinks the said interviewer wants to hear,...the story is printed as " So and So Rock-Star plays/think's this...". Some guy reads the article while in the crapper at break,...and then,...'Voila, the 'true' facts has finally come out'.

I personally like buying a lot of this kinda' gear up, as the gear is sold off in droves by the readers of the article. I let MY thinkin' do my thinkin' in this area of life. Had some conversations recently ON the mentioned Strat. Plus's here in this thread, if they are SO bad, why is there a quiet surge and desirability for these?. As the '91 your checking out, I don't think Fender is making any more of them, and they DO have their qualities, So 23 years later, and still around...Must be something good about the Instrument. Tom
 

still.ill

Member
Messages
3,240
true dat. im leaning toward the 91 not only because it had a tone it liked better but it was also my birth year so its almost vintage to me
 

LonesomeCraig

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
329
Very interesting. I bought my 1st Strat in 91. I got to play several of them and chose the one that clearly had a fantastic ballsy, resonant sound to it. The neck is medium size, not thin. It has always sounded stronger with any pickups that have made their way into it than the same pickups sounded in other Strats.

I have a couple other Strats that I like a lot, but I haven't found one yet that feels as good as this 91. I just assumed it was Alder, but if it's Poplar that's just fine with me!
 

JRC4558Dude

Member
Messages
5,974
There were also "Strat Plus" models, which had roller nut, Sperzel tuners, and Lace Sensor pickups. They also offered some different colors, including semi-translucent finishes.
Allow me to nitpick a small point, they were Schaller-made locking tuners, not Sperzels.

My number one guitar is a 1990 Strat that I bough new in the summer of '91. It's a great guitar.
 






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