When Fender fist introduced the Stratocaster back in 1954, they probably never even dreamed that their new creation would have such an impact on music industry. It has since became an iconic guitar that is known both for its sound and its appearance.
Stratocaster is also one of the most copied designs of guitars in the world, and while they get the shape right most of the time, the tone is something that is hard to recreate.
In recent years, following the great success of this guitar model, Fender has started releasing signature Stratocaster series. for short.
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What Fender managed to do with this guitar is capture the essence of Eric Johnson’s sound. It is probably the closest you can get to having the same tone as this legendary artist.
There are a lot of signature model Strats made by Fender, and this one is definitely one of the better ones we’ve seen. In this article we are going to go over the components and sound you can expect to see and hear from this guitar, so stay tuned.
Successful Signature Stratocaster Serie
What differentiates signature model Stratocasters from regular ones are subtle changes. Fender worked with each and every artist they chose to do signature Strats for, and asked them what they would like to see on the guitar.
When you first look at the EJ Strat, you probably won’t notice a singe difference right away. From afar, it really does look like a run of the mill Fender Stratocaster. However, once you come closer, the subtle changes become pretty clear.
When it comes to the body shape, EJ went for the deep ’57 body style. It gives the guitar a very vintage vibe. The body is a lighter two-piece design made of alder. From all the finish choices Fender has to offer, Eric Johnson chose the vintage style nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This thin finish gives the guitar that vintage edge which is very much appreciated.
The neck features a single piece maple design. It’s a quartersawn soft ‘V’ shape with a thin nitro finish. For those who are used to Fender’s standard ‘C’ shape neck design, this one might take some getting used to. However, it is definitely smooth. The lightly coated fretboard has a 12″ radius and features 21 polished MJ frets.
Where this Stratocaster really stands out from the rest of the line is the electronics Eric Johnson decided to use. This Strat comes with three heavily customized single coil pickups that feature countersung mounting screws.
These were created using a lot of Eric Johnson’s input. One of the main changes he implemented was to rewire the middle pickup tone control to that of the bridge pickup. Not only is this solution much more practical, but it has a lot of impact on the sound of the guitar as well.
When it comes to the hardware found on this unique Strat, what stands out almost instantly are the tuning pegs. Fender used height staggered vintage tuners which completely eliminate the need for string trees.
Bridge of choice is also a vintage tremolo with silver painted block and vintage style string recess. There is no back tremolo cover plate, and the bridge itself is held in place by five tremolo springs.
Once you plug the EJ Strat into your amp, the resulting tone will definitely bring a smile to your face. This guitar has a simply flawless tone.
Combination of lightweight alder body and that quartersawn neck really does wonders for the natural acoustic properties of this guitar. The fact that there are no string trees probably has something to do with the tone as well.
Compared to a standard Stratocaster, EJ Strat has a very distinct color of tone. We can probably attribute this to the heavily customized singe coil pickups Johnson chose to use.
His modification of the middle pickup and the way it is wired to the tone control of the bridge pickup results in a slightly deeper sound which makes you wonder why Fender doesn’t apply this solution to all of their guitars. Seriously, with this wiring solution, you actually have a practical middle pickup.
There is a tone of sustain on this guitar. It reacts so good to clean channels, especially if you are running a decent tube amp. Turn on the overdrive, select the bridge pickup and you will get a very rich tone that has a distinct edge to it.
In terms of playability, this Strat is definitely up there. The neck is different from what many of us are used to, but its smoothness and speed are something that deserves praise.
What we like
When it comes to production guitars that receive a special tune up, EJ Strat just how much further you can push an otherwise standard instrument.
Every single customization that is implemented, no matter how subtle it is, works together to give this Stratocaster a very unique tone. We simply love the pickups and the wiring. It makes the whole setup so much more practical.
What we don’t like
There’s not much we can find on this Strat to complain about. The only thing that many will dislike is the neck profile. It’s not standard, and that might drive some people away.
However, the rest of the setup is so good that getting used to a different neck profile is absolutely worth it.
When everything is said and done, EJ Strat is absolutely one of the best playing, and best sounding Stratocasters on the market. It takes all the good qualities of a standard Strat, and adds a whole new layer of goodness that we can only hope to see on new Strats in the future.
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If they took everything from this model and used a standard ‘C’ neck, we wouldn’t mind that becoming the new standard Stratocaster. When it comes to signature model Stratocasters, there aren’t many that can beat the EJ Strat.