Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Made in Japan Strats - Past and Present

I took a punt a while back on a 90's Fender Strat "Made in Japan". I actually swapped a Mexican HH Jaguar for this beauty. My heartstrings were plucked by memories of my old black and white Japanese Strat that I've talked about in an earlier post. I guess I was trying to capture that teenage vibe once again. Problem is, you really are only young once and part of the charm of that first Strat was discovering the guitar anew after playing badly made, horrible sounding 'planks' - it was like night and day!
Moving on, twenty (or thirty) years, I felt a little disappointed by the 90's model, even though it had Bareknuckle Apache pickups installed (very nice by-the-way). It was a well constructed, equipped, finished and set-up machine, but somehow, it lacked character. I realize now that I'm probably viewing my old 'Blackie' through rose tinted specs...or maybe early Japanese Strats really were that good circa 1985. Maybe I just lacked experience after playing a few badly set-up guitars and one that could stay in tune, was intonated and the strings weren't 3 inches off the fingerboard appeared akin to a big chunk of Kryptonite.
Anyway, "Made in Japan" Fenders are pretty decent guitars and well worth the money - a lot cheaper than the American Standards and often better constructed and finished.
But after a few years of putting together my own guitars, off the peg instruments - no matter how cool looking -  all seem to lack something to me. They appear impersonal and cloned, which of course they are. I'm now too submerged in self-build quirkiness (and middle-age) to be dazzled by the bright lights of the high street guitar shop...although I can't suppress a sly peek now and then, just to kill a little bit of time.

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