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FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / American Double Fat Strat review

Next 20 Messages  

Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Dec 30th, 2000 01:10 PM   Edit   Profile  

If there's a black sheep in the American series family of instruments, then this guitar is it. Welcome, ladies and gents, to the meanest Strat ever made.

It's hard not to gush about the Double Fat. I bought it the day after Christmas. With its serial number Z0143001 I'm assuming it's a 2001 model, though it was clearly made late this year. It was on the wall all of two days before I bought it.

SPECS: Alder body with a beautifully complex sunburst pattern. Lots of grain lines racing to and fro. Very dark and very red. Pearloid guard. 25.5-inch scale length. Rosewood board on a maple neck. One string tree. American series tremolo bridge. Two Seymour Duncan full-sized humbuckers, a Pearly Gates Plus at the bridge and a Custom '59 at the neck. (More about those later.) And, of course, a volume and two tone knobs, one controlling each 'bucker. Only one string tree.

APPEARANCE: It's clear that Fender is obsessed with details these days. This guitar is a sight to see, and I wish I could share it with everyone. The headstock shape is closer to vintage, with a straighter edge under the logo, and the spaghetti logo itself a bit larger than my '97 Strat Plus'. This return to vintage specs on the headstock is comforting somehow.

Fender must be getting choosy with its wood these days. If so, great. G&L, PRS and others have been doing the same for a long time. It's nice to see Fender take on the competition so aggressively with beautiful guitars. You could go swimming in this sunburst.

PLAYABILITY: The neck is the best I've ever played on a Strat, and I loved (and love) the neck on my '97. It begs to grabbed and handled. Movement is a joy. The rolled edges were an inspiration, and kudos to Fender for the idea. Even with the rolled edges, though, the neck is somewhat meatier than my '97's. It inspires confidence.

As you might expect with a brand new guitar, this thing is stiff but in a good way. The pickup toggle is tight. So are the pots. The string tension took some getting used to. Bending the .10 D'Addarios took some work. But after four days of nearly constant use, this guitar is starting to feel like home.

The frets are comfortable and just tall enough. The nut looks like it's had some attention. The right and left edges have been shaved to be rounder, making heavy use near the nut easier somehow.

One complaint here: The absence of a Hipshot Tremsetter which my'97 has is a real shame. Try a dive bomb, and a couple of strings WILL go out of tune. I'll try some vaseline on the string tree and some other things, but there's probably no getting around the problem.

For bluesy warbling, however, the bridge is fine. The trem's movement is smooth and secure. I have it set directly against the wood.

SOUND: Mean. Bluesy. Huge. These Duncan 'buckers make the Double Fat real special. The bridge pup makes it easy to erupt into a bright, cutting Van Halen-style roar. ZZ Top is only an amp adjustment away (if you have a tube amp).

My favorite, though, is the '59. It does it all: A woody jazz tone, a PAF-style crunch, a smooth, full almost-broken-up dark blues tone. You can go from clean to bring-on-the-death-metal if you're inclined.

These are the toggle settings, starting from the bridge: 1. The Pearly Gates by itself. 2. The inside coils of both 'buckers funky, funky. 3. Both 'buckers full on. 4. The inside coil of the '59 by itself a different sound from a regular Strat single-coil, but still in the right neighborhood. It's an important sound. And 5. the '59 by itself.

My favorites so far: 5, 3, 2, 1, 4, in that order. You really ought to try this guitar. I don't see how anyone can get a bad sound on it.

Anyone looking for a comfortable Strat platform with some non-traditional yet versatile sounds, it doesn't get much better than this. This is a friend for life.



Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Jan 2nd, 2001 07:11 AM   Edit   Profile  

A few more observations after a few more days:

There's a real "Fenderishness" about this guitar, if you can dig that. That "Strattyness" comes through, but barely. If you are more tradition-minded and want something classic, though, this guitar is probably not for you. But even on the full humbucker settings, it's not hard to get a "Fender" sound. FMIC must really have worked with Duncan to get the right pickups for this model. Nice job.

Is it my imagination, or is the headstock thicker than the headstocks found on the "American Standard" series?

If you're not leaning on the tremolo all day, this guitar stays in tune really well. I've played it for hours every day, but I've only needed to retune maybe once a day (not counting tremolo abuse).

Finally, the action is low, real low. But I'm still able to play hard and bend like a madman.

All in all, a nice guitar. Check one out.



Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Jan 27th, 2001 07:49 PM   Edit   Profile  

After one month, this guitar is still super cool ...

... in case you were wondering.

Or even if you weren't.

Tom, proud owner, etc., etc.



Jan 29th, 2001 05:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

I just bought one 2 days ago. Black with a pearl guard. I'm very pleased. I think it sounds better than my natural ash Mia standard. Just one thing tho, position 4 is the outside coil of the 59, but what the hell.
On blind listening tests, pos 5 is my fave too, but when I compare 5 with 4, 5 sounds like the single coil and 4 sounds louder like the humb. Maybe its just me.. This is my favourite strat, highly recomended. 9.5 out of 10


Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Jan 29th, 2001 07:20 AM   Edit   Profile  

There ya go. On mine (and I think most), position 4 is the inside coil of the neck humbucker. Is yours reversed or something?

Pretty neat Strat. Like I've said before, by no means traditional, but very powerful and very useable.




Jan 29th, 2001 08:38 AM   Edit   Profile  

If you have a look at Mr Gearhead accessable from www.fender.com, there is a large list of pickup configurations in Acrobat format. You may have to use right click save as option to get at the file.

For the new American Double Fat Strat it shows position 4 activating the neck single coil nearest to the neck. I only checked this here because I wasn't sure how the switching went. Go have a look :)

I do agree it's a lovely instrument.



Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Jan 29th, 2001 08:56 AM   Edit   Profile  

I don't think so. The coil closest to the neck has the pole screws, not the actual poles. It's the inside coil again, unless your neck 'bucker is reversed for some reason (maybe the Peter Green mod?). On the Pearly Gates Plus, the screws coil is on the inside, as well.





Jan 29th, 2001 09:35 AM   Edit   Profile  


Maybe I'm looking at the wrong diagram. Yes the screws are closest to the neck. Take a look at this site (sorry it's not a link)




Jan 29th, 2001 09:36 AM   Edit   Profile  


Maybe I'm looking at the wrong diagram. Yes the screws are closest to the neck. Take a look at this site




Jan 29th, 2001 09:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

Sorry about the link, try this




Jan 29th, 2001 09:47 AM   Edit   Profile  

You have me concerned that I have a pick up in the wrong way round. On mine, the screws are on the oustside of both pups, but the Seymore Duncan logos read correctly when you stand the guitar upright.

Have you managed to download the switch spec sheet. I'll email it to you if you like.

we gotta get this sorted for piece of mind :)



Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Jan 29th, 2001 10:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

Right, the screws should be on the outside of both pickups. I think the inner coils, though, hold the magnets that actually "pick up" the strings although, as with any humbucker, the string sensing space is wider than a single-coil pup.

I remember that with the specs on the Big Apple model and the DFS is just the American Series update of the Big Apple position No. 4 was the neck pup's inner coil.

Anyone from Fender want to straighten one of us out?




Jan 30th, 2001 08:34 AM   Edit   Profile  


I have posted a message in the ask fender forum. Hopefully this will give us the final answer




Feb 14th, 2001 12:44 AM   Edit   Profile  

stratguy, do you have anyway of posting a pic. it really sounds sweet.


Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Feb 14th, 2001 08:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

Sorry, no scanner or digital camera. It is sweet, though. Anyone who thinks non-traditional Strats can't carry the day simply haven't tried this guitar.



3 Strats and a Tele - just ask me about 'em

Feb 17th, 2001 12:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

Wow- I don't have one of these, although I wouldn't mind. I appreciate both of the reviews, I'm glad Fender makes a strat like this.

There is a post that Bill Turner, of Fender R&D made earlier. (Sorry, I don't have the link, but I saved the text out)

While answering someone's question, he gives the switch positions of the double fat:

"Starting with the bridge position:
*Bridge in series alone.
*Bridge forward coil & Neck rearward coil in parallel, hum canceling.
*Bridge in series, Neck in series, the two in parallel with each other.
*Forward coil of Neck pickup alone, operating as a single coil.
*Neck in series alone.

There are no "out of phase" positions.

Bill Turner"

Hope this helps solve the controversy.



Would you rather have beer or complete, utter contentment?

Feb 17th, 2001 04:56 PM   Edit   Profile  

This guitar kicks righteous ass.

Or did I mention that already?



Guitar Heaven

Feb 18th, 2001 06:18 AM   Edit   Profile  

This truly is one of the greatest guitars made today.



Feb 22nd, 2001 08:56 AM   Edit   Profile  

Does anyone know if Fender makes "official" replacement pickguards for these guitars? I'm not real crazy about the white pearloid but I'd rather not have to cut an existing guard or drill new holes...



Feb 23rd, 2001 10:05 AM   Edit   Profile  


There is a direct replacement that Fender makes for the Fat/Big Apple Strat. The only colors available is Tort and White Pearl.


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