Category Archives: Guitar Reviews

Fender’s Mod Shop Expands for Summer and Fall 2017: Enables Direct Online Creation of Custom Instruments

In between a Fender production instrument that one can purchase from a dealer and a Fender custom shop instrument, is the Fender Mod Shop. The Mod Shop opened its doors in June of 2016 and is Fender’s online digital design studio where users can directly create and customize their instrument from a variety of options otherwise not available on standard off-the-shelf models.

Fender recently expanded its palette of offerings for the Summer and Fall of 2017, with some options being offered for only a limited time. From new body and pickguard colors, neck shapes, and pickups, the online Mod Shop offers a variety of options to create an instrument that is truly unique.
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Vintage Style Pickups Roundup: Part 2 – Humbucking PAFs

When Les Paul fanatics talk vintage style pickups, there’s one pickup type that gets talked about more often than any other: the legendary "PAF". Those three letters stand for "Patent Applied For" and are a reference to the earliest humbucking pickups used in Gibson guitars. Even after more than forty years of continued development and advancement in pickup technology, the PAF remains the premier tonal choice for expressive blues and rock players.

This has driven early original PAF pickup prices to extreme levels and as of this writing in 2003, prices of $1000+ each are not uncommon for those that require the original deal. For the rest of us thankfully, replacement pickups fashioned after the original PAFs are offered by numerous pickup manufacturers and are much more affordable.
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Vintage Style Pickups Explored: Part 1 – Single Coil Stratocaster Replacements

With so many different types of pickups on the market, choosing one that’s just right for you can certainly be a challenge. For typical non-active pickups used in most guitars today, the materials used and how each pickup is constructed can make a large difference in the final tone achieved. Active pickups (i.e., those that have some form of pre-amplification built in that requires the use of a battery of some type) are a whole different category altogether.

For the sake of focus, this two-part series will discuss varieties of vintage style pickups. First, we’ll take a look at some single-coil options that you’d typically use in a Stratocaster. Next time, we’ll bring out the Les Paul and play with some vintage-voiced humbuckers. As we go through the various options, some vendors were kind enough to provide great educational info about how each pickup is made and why they’ll sound a particular way. This will be helpful for the person that may not necessarily be interested in a vintage-voiced pickup but can use the information to read over the specifications of another pickup and then perhaps get a better understanding of how each specification may affect the tone.
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Review of Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 Pickups

Introduction by David Szabados, Review by Mike Mullen

After playing through a P-90-loaded guitar for the first time, my immediate thought was, "OMG! Where have you been all my life? And where have I been all these years!?"

While focusing on getting my ideal rock and blues tones for years, I’ve always played through and with countless variations of Les Pauls and Stratocasters (and copies) with a myriad of pickup arrangements. For one reason or another however, I had never gotten to trying a guitar equipped with P-90s. Until late last year…
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Charvel So-Cal USA Production Series

Some History…

In the early 1970’s, electric rock and roll music was booming and growing in sophistication, and guitarists were interested in getting more from their instruments to help enhance their playing and inspire further creativity. The two traditional and most famous electric guitars, the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster, were essentially polar opposites in both sound and feel. This left the market open for a guitar that could successfully merge some of the features of both instruments to create what would be viewed by many as the ultimate rock and roll guitar.
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2000 Fender American Standard Strat

Year 2000 Fender American StratocasterYear 2000 marks the end of the American Standard Stratocaster line and the introduction of Fender’s new American Series Stratocaster. Many marked refinements were incorporated in the new American Series Stratocasters that we’ll examine in the future. However, because the American Standard Stratocaster has been discontinued, it means that there are potentially great deals to be found in the marketplace. For that reason, as well as to mark the end of the American Standard Stratocaster’s 13-year life, decided to examine some of the history of the American Standard Stratocaster as well as look at the year 2000 model in depth.

The first of Fender’s famous and long-lived American Standard Stratocasters was introduced in 1987 at the NAMM Convention and was a hit from the start. Fender was now in its post-CBS era, and the company’s new management team was committed to bringing Fender back to its glory days by again producing high-quality affordable instruments. In the 70’s especially, the CBS-owned Fender company suffered from a reputation for producing poorly-made guitars as a result of mass production and poor quality control. Being owned by mega-giant CBS did nothing but encourage the notion that the company only cared about profits. However, with new owners and the new American Standard model introduced, Fender clearly succeeded in time and the company again enjoyed a renewed reputation for producing quality instruments.
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