Cost: $849.99 new
This stunning MIM-Strat belongs to my good friend Sam who left it at my house all weekend, thus making it reviewable.
Overview and Final Score: 8.1
While we normally stick to new or best-selling instruments to review here at GFI, this guitar has a very robust second-hand market is quite the eye catcher. Seeing it is much sought after online, I decided to take it for a spin when my friend left it at my house all weekend! Featuring a ’70s gloss polyester finish and big headstock, this Mexican-made Strat mixes killer looks with classic sound. The 3 vintage alnico single coil pickups scream, slap, and spank depending on how you use them, and create a very full, familiar Strat tone. Much of the ’70s influence is built into the aesthetic as opposed to the sound, and the distinct natural finish doesn’t hurt the cause either.
Even though the guitar may cost a bit more than your average MIM-Strat, the pickups are fairly similar themselves. They sound like the real vintage deal, but have just a little bit less depth to them, making them feel just the slightest bit thin, especially in the last two positions of the selector switch. However, the neck pickup was smooth and buttery, and using the in-between selections conjured up beautiful recreations of Hendrix, Mayer, or Frusciante with ease.
The bridge pickup really came alive when I cranked the tube amp or added external distortion effects, and soon was churning out crazy, rich lead tones I hadn’t imagined it could via the clean tone.
The neck, action, and frets were almost perfect on this guitar and it was a joy to play. The 21 vintage-style frets feel large and comfortable, with no rough edges at all. The U-shaped neck was stable, held tune for hours at a time, and felt easy to traverse up and down.
My friend had converted it to a hard tail via some extra springs, so I did not get to check out the synchronized tremolo arm’s performance, but I have to imagine it is as good as a MIM Standard model or better for the price. The vintage-style tuners were also a nice aesthetic touch and were easy to turn, and kept tune wonderfully along with the bridge and nut.
Finish & Construction: 8.5
After seeing the finish on this guitar, I knew I had to play it, and it was even more gorgeous up close. The finish was glossy, well polished, and had no visible flaws that I could find. The clear, gloss polyester on the neck had a few marks, perhaps from ware or use, but overall felt fairly strong and resistant.
The 3-bolt neck plate was stronger than I expected, though I’m not sure how it would hold up through vigorous live usage compared to the 4-bolt styles on most Strats. The frets were fantastic with no rough edges, and were very comfortable to play up and down the neck. Overall, it seems like quite a well constructed instrument, I expect it to hold up to quite a bit more abuse.
I’m slightly less bullish on the value of this guitar than any of its other features. At the end of the day it plays and sounds only marginally better, if it all, than other Mexican-made Stratocasters. Really, the only noticeable upgrade is the vintage, glossy finish. By my ear, I hear little to no to difference when it comes to the pickups. I do love the MIM Fender guitars and think they are a great value, thus the high scores in other categories. But it just isn’t necessarily worth the extra hundreds they up charge for the ’70s moniker and I would steer towards shopping for a used one of these.