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…
Jimi Hendrix. David Gilmour. I grew up admiring both of these artists…and their Stratocasters. Hendrix is most famously known for his late ’60s white “Woodstock” Strat, while Gilmour is best known for his black Strat (now a signature Fender model) which is a “mutt” of various parts – but started out as a circa 1968 stock model.
These late ’60s Strats are most easily identified by use of the large headstock design that originated after the CBS purchase of Fender musical instruments in 1965. Hendrix can be seen with his favorite Strat (he preferred his black one over the white he used at Woodstock) in his famous performance captured on video at The Isle of Wight in 1970. Gilmour used an identical black with maple board model in the Pink Floyd “Live at Pomeii” film shot in 1972. These classic performances, and those Stratocasters, left an impression on me that continues to this day.
I think I’m a lot like most people caught up in the world of vintage (or at least semi-vintage) music gear. I always look for a great deal and to pay the lowest price when I’m buying and then I look to get the most return on my dollars when selling. That’s just human nature.
But within the past couple of years, it’s been a lot harder for me to do any buying. The deals have been difficult to find and the prices of the things that I’m interested in have gone through the roof. It frustrates and pisses me off that I can’t have the same fun in the marketplace like I used to.
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.
I created our very first video, “Destroying a $5000 guitar”, designed to initially create some “shock” but with a “purpose” too to create awareness and get attention about the counterfeit guitar market – the hope that people would follow the video and then read the full story here and heed the warnings of this disturbing problem!
I’ll admit I really lagged on doing a feature on pickups. It’s so much easier to just plug in a pedal, or play through an amp, etc. rather than having to go through the process of installing pickups with all the guitar dismantling, the soldering and even restringing of the guitar which isn’t something I’m ever thrilled to do. In any case, I knew that I eventually would have to take a look at some pickups so I made a call to premier pickup maker Seymour Duncan first.
Year 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, LegendaryTones.com 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.