At the Start of 2016 we sat down with the UK's leading Fender Custom Shop product specialist and designed a very special Strat that would be exclusively made for Peach Guitars to commemorate 10 years of ownership by John and Alan Priest. We managed to create a model that has some features that had never been seen in Europe, and also some that had never been featured on a Team Built guitar, ever! We've really managed to blend "new vs. old" on these guitars. You could even say - "Vintage tone with Modern Playability".
The guitar base spec is from a '59 Strat, which is a solid foundation for a great guitar. SRV's #1 Strat was a '59, so that's good enough for me.
Starting out we have a lightweight Alder Body, with a Roasted Maple neck and fingerboard. Fender have been a little late to the roasted/torrefied/baked Maple party, so it was a no-brainer to add this spec to our guitar models. It's also a "tonal turbo boost" as it adds to the resonance of the guitar, plus it's more resistant to temperature changes. Should this guitar need a truss rod adjustment though, you'll be pleased to see that the access is at the nut end, which makes adjustments a pinch.
The feel of the neck and the playability was carefully considered so we went with a very light (non-sticky) sealer coat on the back of the neck, which gives the guitar a vintage feel, like an old worn-in pre CBS Strat neck. We still wanted it to feel like a Strat and not a modern soulless equivalent. The actual shape of the neck is the "65 C" Strat shape, which feels just great. Its right in the middle of the regular 60's C shape neck and the larger Nocaster Style necks. It measures .820" at the 1st fret and .974" at the 12th.
For frets, we went with the ever-popular 6105 size made by Jescar. These have enough height for big blues bends and wide vibrato without being too huge for nice chordal work. We also went with 22 frets as well, just to help it blend into the modern world and appeal to a greater audience. The radius is 9.5" to 12" radius, which will appeal to all kinds of players, not too curved and not too flat.
John Cruz has been one of our favourite Master builders for a long time and when we found out that we could use a set of his exclusive hand wound pickups in this build, we were just over the moon as they're the same units to be featured on the Gary Moore Tribute Strat! This set is called "Bone Tone" pickups, and they offer a different tone and vibe to his huge sounding JC Fat 50's pickups, which we also really rate.
*Since these specs were agreed on these guitars, JC has decided that he doesn't want the pickups featured on any more team built guitars, which is great, as this really helps with the exclusivity of these instruments, and let's be fair, this is a master built spec guitar for over £1500 less than the same in MB spec.*
Tonally, the pickups are closer to a genuine early '60's Strat, and they nail the John Mayer tone without even moving out of first gear. The guitar also has the "Tone Saver" circuit from the hugely popular series of "Ancho Poblano" Strats, which retain the top end as you roll the volume down.
In the hardware department, we again adopted the "old vs. new" approach and went with a 2 post tremolo unit but with vintage correct bent saddles for the sprangiest(?!?) tone possible.
We went with the thinnest possible nitro 'Journeyman relic' finish, to allow the guitar to really breathe, and again enhance the resonance of this guitar. If you've ever played an original pre CBS Strat, you probably would've noticed how thin the finish was. This was an essential part of the spec for us.
So to sum it up, I would say that the Fender Custom Shop has exceeded our expectations with this model and we're 100% proud to be associated with it.