This is­sue: Bigsby al­ter­na­tives, Gold Foil pick­ups & jacked up tones

Guitarist - - Q&A -


I have a nice Amer­i­can Stan­dard Tele­caster and a PRS San­tana SE but I’d re­ally like to add a Strat…oh and maybe a 335. I’m fully aware of my lim­i­ta­tions as a player and don’t sub­scribe to ‘all the gear but no idea’ at­ti­tude. I re­ally do want a gen­uine Fen­der though. What’s puz­zling me is there’s now a be­wil­der­ing ar­ray of spec­i­fi­ca­tion up and down the range. What I’d like to see is a sim­ple grid lay­out of the avail­able range, maybe for the ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers, with av­er­age price, spec dif­fer­ences and a rat­ing score. Any chance of that? Dino, via email You’re def­i­nitely not alone, Dino. It’d cer­tainly be pos­si­ble to make that grid as you sug­gest, but in truth we’re not sure how much it would help. We have some se­ri­ous Strat fans in our staff and alumni and they all say that you have to play the gui­tar and de­cide if it works for you.

To help nar­row it down, if you’re re­al­is­tic about your bud­get and the ba­sic spec (for ex­am­ple fingerboard ma­te­rial and ra­dius, wir­ing and pick­ups, bridge type and fin­ish) you’ll find that the choice nar­rows dra­mat­i­cally. Then stuff a few hun­dred quid in your pocket and head off to a big re­tailer with loads of choice. If you’re very un­de­cided, the only so­lu­tion is to spend a day or two play­ing some gui­tars. Trust your in­stincts and your heart: def­i­nitely not your head. You have to want to play that gui­tar ev­ery time you look at it.

Nev­er­the­less, if we were go­ing to pick just one ar­che­typal Strat that of­fers the op­ti­mum blend of fea­tures and price, it’s the Clas­sic Se­ries Stra­to­cast­ers from the Ense­nada, Mex­ico fac­tory. Vin­tage styling, ap­point­ments and tones, choice of colours with ei­ther maple or rose­wood (pao ferro on the new­est ones) boards.

As for 335s, you ab­so­lutely must play those as they vary quite a bit in weight and feel. Start with the Mem­phis made 58, 59 and 63 mod­els. They’re the best new 335s they’ve made since the early days, in our opin­ion. Ex­pen­sive, but ab­so­lutely the real deal.

ONE man band?

I’m head­ing to­wards my 70s, can’t han­dle mod­ern com­put­ers and don’t have a mo­bile phone! I’ve been of­fered the chance to play in sev­eral pubs and restau­rants as a solo gui­tarist play­ing my ar­range­ments of pop­u­lar tunes. I don’t sing but would like to have back­ing tracks so that I can play the melodies over the top. I have a Tom Anderson S type and Gib­son 339 gui­tars, Fen­der Blues Ju­nior and Fish­man Loud­box Artist amps. I

also have a se­lec­tion of ped­als… and two ques­tions.

What is the sim­plest way of ob­tain­ing the back­ing tracks and what would I play them on? What would be the best amp to use and how would I set them up? Martin Fen­nemore, via email Sounds great Martin! Not hav­ing a com­puter is go­ing to be a sig­nif­i­cant dis­ad­van­tage here be­cause most of the stuff you need is avail­able on­line. You buy and down­load the tracks, then play them straight from your com­puter or trans­fer them to a mo­bile phone or MP3 player. As you can see, not hav­ing a phone is also a prob­lem.

You could turn to phys­i­cal CDs. Gui­tar Tech­niques and Gui­tarist have an amaz­ing cat­a­logue of back­ing tracks down the years.Plenty of peo­ple use them in a live en­vi­ron­ment. It would in­volve ac­quir­ing them in phys­i­cal form (we can’t sell them be­cause the li­cens­ing fees are hor­rific) and play­ing them through a CD player plugged into your Fish­man Loud­box. It’s a full-range amp that has all the fre­quen­cies you need for mu­sic play­back. Then use your Blues Ju­nior for the gui­tar and bal­ance lev­els ac­cord­ingly.

If it was us, we’d buy the com­puter or top-end smart­phone and lean on some tech-minded friend or fam­ily mem­ber to set it up. You’re miss­ing out on a colos­sal amount of awe­some stuff by not en­gag­ing with what’s avail­able on­line. Good luck!

ni­tro more Or less

I have a dilemma. I’m look­ing for a ‘black­guard’Tele­caster with a chunky neck pro­file and ni­tro­cel­lu­lose lac­quer. How­ever, find­ing a gui­tar that sat­is­fies both cri­te­ria un­der £1.000 th­ese days is prov­ing a strug­gle. I am for­tu­nate enough to own two gui­tars that have a ni­tro fin­ish. It just seems to im­prove ev­ery el­e­ment of gui­tar play­ing for me, so much so that I tend to find my­self sand­ing down the gui­tars I have with poly fin­ishes on them.

I also pre­fer a chunky neck pro­file over a slim one, but it seems the de­mand for a larger neck is quite small.

Is it pos­si­ble to get a Tele­caster with sim­i­lar specs to the Fen­der Amer­i­can Vin­tage ‘52 reis­sue (ni­tro fin­ish,‘U’ shaped neck) for un­der £1,000? Mark Hug­gins, via email No, is the sim­ple an­swer, Mark. The clos­est thing to the AV ’52 at a lower price is the Fen­der Clas­sic Se­ries ’50s Tele­caster Lac­quer. It has a gloss ni­tro­cel­lu­lose lac­quer fin­ish to neck and body; white blonde fin­ish, white guard. The Road Worn ’50s Tele­caster that has a polyurethane fin­ish to the neck. They both have SRPs of over £1,000, how­ever.

In this in­stance, we’d urge you strongly to look out for a used Amer­i­can Vin­tage ’52. They’re not un­com­mon so you should be able to pick one up be­low £1,000. Ab­so­lutely bril­liant gui­tars – you won’t be sorry!

lefty wah

I am left-handed and I am left­footed too. It’s a prob­lem for me to have my wah-wah on the left of my ped­al­board be­cause of the ‘in’ and ‘out’ po­si­tions of the jacks. The only so­lu­tion ap­pears to be to have a lit­tle longer ca­ble so I can put the wah on the left and my Poly­tune on the right, with the other ped­als in the middle. Is there any other so­lu­tion? Piero Rossi, via email We think the longer ca­ble is the right so­lu­tion, Piero. You won’t lose any­thing sig­nif­i­cant with such a short ca­ble run, so just set the pedal po­si­tions up how­ever feels right and ca­ble ac­cord­ingly. If you get some low pro­file/high-qual­ity patch ca­bles/jacks, (eg Ev­i­dence Au­dio SIS or Free The Tone Sold­er­less), there will be no un­nec­es­sary bulk.

It’s pos­si­ble to re­wire the in and out jacks so that they swap po­si­tion on an older/bou­tique type wah, but not on many mod­ern wahs, be­cause they have the jacks mounted di­rectly to the PCB. The longer ca­ble is the in­stant, easy so­lu­tion.

How does Dino make sense of Fen­der’s cur­rent ex­ten­sive Strat range?

Martin wants back­ing tracks – but how to play them back

The AM ’52 is above bud­get, so how about buy­ing one used?

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