Monday, July 30, 2012

NGD: 199? Fender American Standard Stratocaster

Ah, oh beautiful day!  I got my hands on a fantastic new (to me) instrument and my wife hasn't left me.  The object of consideration for today is a 1996(?) Fender American Standard Stratocaster.  I purchased this from one of my favorite used guitar outlets for almost exactly $500.  Any day you can get a good strat for around $500 is a good day IMO.

Unfortunately it did not come with a case, which would have made the deal super sweet, but I'll settle for very sweet.  While 90's strats aren't that rare, they are getting older.  I also have not been able to find a left-handed 90's strat in this color anywhere on the Internet - so maybe this one is a little more unique?  At least one can hope.

There's one thing I think is even more unique about this guitar: the model year.  It seems to be somewhat of a mystery!  Here's what I found so far:
The Serial Number  The serial number is an "N9", which usually means 1999, except Fender mistakingly used some of these stickers on 1990 guitars.
The Date Stamps  The neck has a date stamp of Feb 1, 1992 and the body has a stamp of Apr 23, 1992.
The Original Purchase Date  The original owner claims he bought it new in 1996.

So it could be a 1990, 1992, 1993, 1996 or 1999 model guitar.  Whew!  My guess is that's its a 1993 model that didn't sell until 1996 for some reason(?).

Specs (from Fender customer service):

Model Name: American Standard Stratocaster®
Series: American Standard Series
Body: Alder (Optional Swamp Ash Body Natural Finish Only p/n# 010-7400/2-721)
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Maple (9.5” Radius/241 mm)
No. of Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo Frets
Scale Length: 25.5” (648 mm)
Width @ Nut: 1.6875” (43 mm)
Hardware: Chrome
Machine Heads: Fender/Schaller Deluxe Cast/Sealed
Bridge: American Standard
Pickguard: 3-Ply White
Pickups: 3 American Standard Strat Single Coils
Pickup Switching: 5-Position Blade:
Position 1. Bridge Pickup
Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup
Position 3. Middle Pickup
Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup
Position 5. Neck Pickup
Controls: Master Volume, Tone (Neck), TBX Tone (Mid, Bridge),
Source: U.S.
Accessories: Molded Case
U.S. MSRP: $1,049.99 (With Swamp Ash Body $1,199.99)

Body: Alder
I've also found that there was a temporary ban on Alder wood from sometime in 1990 till sometime in 1994.  Yet, the body looks to be made of Alder.  Hmmm... maybe Fender kept these guitars in the warehouse until the ban was lifted?

And the neck feels fantastic, a real pleasure to play.  Not coincidentally, necks are supposed to be one of the best things about Fender strats built in the 90's.  Now I can see why.  This one had after-market chrome Sperzels on it - can't find those anymore.  Sperzels are okay, but I prefer Schallers when it comes to locking tuners.  The dial underneath the key is thicker allowing for easier (and less painful) tightening of the lock.

It has the 90's-correct TBX tone control.  

The tremolo came with all 5 of the black springs installed.  Black springs were also common for 90's era guitars.  I will probably remove 2 of the springs in an effort to determine the best floating bridge setup.

Update:  Oops... I did it again!
After watching used guitar sites for some time before and after this purchase, I decided I could find a better example of a 90's strat than this one.  It just had too many flaws so I returned it and got my money back.  It had:

  • A gash on the underside of the neck at the 2nd fret
  • Finish was worn to the wood on the fretboard at the second fret
  • It needed a complete fret-leveling (another $100) - which was ultimately the deal-killer for me
  • Dings and dent in front and back of the headstock and down the back of the neck
  • Walnut truss rod plug had some damage
  • Finished was bashed-in on the bottom side of the body, like it was dropped.
  • Hole in the lower horn where previous owner had flipped it backward Hendrix-style.  I hate that!  Righties- leave the lefties alone!  It won't make you look or sound like Hendrix anyway!

I just couldn't get over the fact that for $50 more I could get a 90's strat in like-new condition.  The mystique of the manufactured vs. purchased date wasn't enough to make me keep it.  Oddly enough, it still played very nicely.  But in the end, I decided to put the money toward a different instrument that I'll  describe in a future post.