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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / I've had enough, so I'm starting over! (Long)

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Think Floyd
Contributing Member

Eastern PA

May 21st, 2012 09:19 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

NOTE: This is NOT a "For Sale" post!

I've decided to sell my current guitar/amp so that I can begin trying to improve (if possible) my playing.

I've owned Strats (one at a time) since about 1997. First was a 1997 MIM Standard (1997-2000), then a 2000 Texas Special (2000-2004), and my current one is a 2003 American Series (2004-present). I upgraded from MIM to MIA because of higher quality and IMO they sounded better.

For the past 12 years I've been playing a MIA, and still haven't felt completely comfortable with them. I'm basically a hack rhythm guitarist who attempts to dabble in simple leads on occasion. I've been thinking for a few years now that the specs of the MIA Strats are keeping me from playing my best. I was able to play little leads more "fluidly" when I had the MIM Strat. That MIM had the vintage-style frets, while the MIAs have the medium-jumbo frets. And, I'm STILL not quite comfortable with the 1/16" wider nut width of the MIAs. I originally went with the MIA over the MIM due to the higher quality neck (IMO both in feel and sound), and I preferred the block saddles over the bent ones. I figured that I'd get used to the wider nut width eventually, but that never fully happened. So, the MIA is going, and I'll look for an older MIM with the smaller frets... or possibly one with MJ frets that are worn down a bit. I want to play the Strat again, not fight it!

As for amps, it will be a harder decision. I went from HRD to BJr to Classic 30 to BJr to my current Allen Accomplice. I liked the cleans of the Fenders, but found the dirty tones to be a bit harsh. (In hindsight, I should have tried different speakers.) The C30 was nice, but I only used the clean channel with pedals. I talked myself into thinking that I finally deserved a "quality" amp, and this Accomplice was the right price. I love hearing people play through Blackface amps, but they just don't do it for me personally. The Accomplice has the ability to add more mids and dirt to the BF sound, so that seemed like what I wanted. I even went and bought an expensive Celestion Gold speaker because I loved how the Accomplice sounded with one at my guitar tech's house. I can make the amp sound good at home playing at low volume. But, when I've had the chance to go to a friend's house and play in a "band" environment I just can't dial it in to my liking, and spent too much time adjusting knobs on the amp and pedals.

Yes, part of the problem is my inability to dial in amps or pedals to their full potential even though I've been playing over 30 years, but I'm just not a "tweaker". (On a related note, it's similar to my aversion to learning/practicing scales.) Before I bought the Allen I once used someone else's Peavey Valveking 1-12 combo at a jam. It sounded "blah" on the clean channel (probably needed new tubes or a better speaker?), so I dialed in a half-decent OD sound on the dirty channel and left it there. I rolled back my Strat's volume knob for clean tones, and added my OD pedal when I needed more dirt. I played all night like that, and never felt the need to adjust the amp settings. It wasn't the greatest of tones, but without having to worry about adjusting the amp controls I actually played better than I have in a long time. So, the Accomplice just isn't for me. I don't regret buying it; it's the only way to tell if I'll like it or not. I also don't regret buying the Gold. It's a nice speaker, and if it doesn't leave with the Allen then I'll put it in my next amp (or maybe ext. cab).

Looks like my next guitar will be a MIM Strat... which may possibly be followed by a hunt for new pick-ups! As for an amp, that's a tough one. I would like something that can replicate the "set-and-forget" experience with the Peavey Valveking, although I don't need the VK's 50 watts. Before buying the Allen, I did like the new BJr III, and preferred it over the older versions. There's a 5E3 for sale locally at a good price, but I'm afraid that it wouldn't give good enough cleans at "hear it over the drummer" volumes. I may try the BJr III with my OD pedal and see if I can find the right settings to go from mostly clean to dirty with the guitar's volume knob. I can always add a second dirt pedal for a boost or higher gain.

Once I have a guitar that's more comfortable in my hands and an amp/pedal(s) that I can set and forget (of course, slight tweaks may have to be made due to environment) then maybe I can concentrate on the content of my playing. I just want to stop worrying about everything except the actual playing.

(This message was last edited by Think Floyd at 09:31 AM, May 21st, 2012)

Contributing Member

Jersey Shore

I like driving EL84's and 6L6's crazy
May 21st, 2012 10:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Do you use a compressor? Putting one on my board a few years ago was a game changer. It might bring some more tone out of your guitar and amp.

Contributing Member


Axe Victim
May 21st, 2012 10:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sorry, I don't have the patience to read threads of this length. (:oD

Contributing Member

White Bear Lake, MN

Keep a coolin' baby
May 21st, 2012 11:10 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have been playing a long time and it has taken me years to finally realize that I don't really like the feel OR the sound of a Strat--at least in my hands. I play a lot of acoustic rhythm guitar and find that a Telecaster sounds and feels much better to me. Plus the controls make more sense to me and I find that I can work pedals far better. With Strats, I always seem to end up maxing the V and T controls to get more clarity and dynamics. The result is still "mush" compared to the ultra-clarity I hear when using a Tele--especially for hard driving rhythm playing. I can't tell you how many Strats I have gone through to learn my lesson. Obviously a Tele may not "feel" right to you, but would suggest you try one if you haven't. Of course, YMMV. I even prefer the Mustang to a Strat and can get better sounds out of one. I sincerely wish you luck in your quest!

Contributing Member

Lansing, MI

My CVR is noisy, but so is my playing!
May 21st, 2012 11:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Often people buy MIM because they are less expensive, but I think the quality on the MIM Fenders is good enough that noone should feel bad about picking one over an MIA based on features. Be thankful you like the less-expensive features!

Contributing Member

White Bear Lake, MN

Keep a coolin' baby
May 21st, 2012 11:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

(deleted my amp advice.)

Keep the Allen Accomplice. It is a great amp and a good foundation for any guitar. That is, unless you are into high volume metal.

Was the Allen factory built, or was it kit built? You said you got a great deal. You may want to have a good tech check it out to make sure all is well.

(This message was last edited by johnny1111 at 02:02 PM, May 21st, 2012)

reverend mikey
Contributing Member

An Amateur built the

Ark...Professionals built the Titanic
May 21st, 2012 12:17 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Why don't you just order a neck from Warmoth or another after-market supplier with the narrower (1 5/8") nut and the vintage frets for your current Strat? You can do quite a bit of other customizing while you're at it - tuners, face dot style, radius, neck shape, etc.

As to the amp, the hard truth is what sounds good at home never works playing out with a band at higher volume. Your Allen amp *should* be getting you there...have you considered having another good guitar player tweak your amp while you play at practice? At first it might not sound *right* to you, but that may be because of where you're standing, other background noise, etc.


San Antonio, Texas

May 21st, 2012 12:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'd ask Frank Zappa for some guitar advise.

Contributing Member

Suburban MD.

Ask me about my BlowCoat(tm)!
May 21st, 2012 12:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Life is more than just 'Strats'.
I got my first Gibson last summer, it plays much smoother than the MIJ Strats I've owned. There's PRS's to be had in the ~$1000 pice range as well. If you really are "starting over", get out and play one of everything.

Contributing Member

It's not just good..

...it's good enough.
May 21st, 2012 01:07 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If you prefer the MIA pickups and electronics but want vintage specs, what about the '57 RI Strats?

That might get you the feel and sound you want without the need to modify anything.

(assuming that you do, indeed, want to stick with a Strat)



Patient people get what they want.
May 21st, 2012 02:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"...figured that I'd get used to the wider nut width eventually, but that never fully happened."

Yep, same thing here. Since I got a Squier Classic Vibe 62, I hardly play my American series. The neck is just perfect for my hands. It must be pointed out that it has the Fender .009 string gauge. Even the tone is more vintage, way more than it was my AmSe original pups. The pups on these CV '62, at least these one on mine, are to my ears absolutly vintage sounding.
The hardware is not extraordinary but very decent.

If i was in the market for a MIA strat right now, I'd go for an AVRI '57 or '62, stock. Probably the '62 since I prefer the rosewood fingerboard.

On the amp side, it took me years to discover that I'm a vintage Marshall tone kind of guy! I mean, I was always trying to make my Fender amps sound like a Marshall. Hey! Crazy was I ! Who on earth tries to make his Marshall sound like a Fender? Ya, I know... Jim himself! The rest is history.

I really wonder why oh why Fender still sticks on his "modern" vision of the strat?

Contributing Member

I am not a complete

idiot - I have several pieces missing!
May 21st, 2012 02:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Why don't you just order a neck from Warmoth or another after-market supplier with the narrower (1 5/8") nut and the vintage frets for your current Strat?"


Contributing Member

USA, Lubbock

Anybody got a band-aid?
May 21st, 2012 02:40 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

12 years seems like a long time to finally come to the conclusion that the guitar is the problem.

Contributing Member

USA/Taos, NM

May 21st, 2012 03:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It kinda sounds like you're over-thinking this a bit. Keep it simple to start and then let it grow from there. I think you're searching through too many variables at once--speaker, pedals, guitar, neck, amp, etc., etc. That just makes for a jumble to sort through.



Frogs are lucky, they eat what bugs them
May 21st, 2012 03:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It's a beautiful thing that we now have so many choices in guitars & amps. It took me also about 12 years to figure out what gear I needed to make it easier and fun to play, etc. With that being said you ever notice how we all tend to start playing better once we get that certain guitar and amp that "floats are boat" Jimi with a Strat, Keith with a Tele, Tom with the Ric, Page on the Paul, Brian on the Gretsch, they found out what works for them!

Contributing Member

Saskatchewan, Canada

May 21st, 2012 05:58 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I like necks that are wide at the nut. Have you tried the Jimmie Vaughan MIM strat? If so, what's your opinion. Quite the post by the way. But I did get through it even though my eyes were starting to glaze over towards the end.

Think Floyd
Contributing Member

Eastern PA

May 21st, 2012 06:28 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks for all of your insights on this matter.

There's nothing wrong with the Accomplice at all. It's a great amp; it just doesn't sound like "me".

My first two electric guitars were Gibsons, and I do prefer the shorter scale length. But, I love the sound of a Strat, too. I'd love to have one of each. As for the differences in specs/quality, I guess the problem is due to my poor technique (taught myself). I need to find a guitar neck that fits my hand perfectly (or close enough). A lot of people can feel comfortable on any guitar... but I'm not one of them. I could never order a neck, because I really don't know exactly what specs I'd need. I mentioned nut width and fret size above, but left out fretboard radius and neck thickness. Maybe I'd prefer the MIA nut width if the radius was 12" and the neck was a hair thicker? I definitely know that the vintage 7.5" radius is not for me.

Here's an example: I love the sound of the "Hendrix" chord, but I always have a problem with fingering it cleanly EVERY time I play it. A friend once handed me his LP Standard, and I plugged it into my BJr. I fooled around a bit, and then went for the Jimi chord. I nailed it perfectly the very first time, and it felt natural. Of course, after writing this I realize that a Gibson-type guitar would be better for me. Deep down I've known that all along, but a Gibson is too expensive for me, and I never cared for the Epis that I've tried. OTOH, I do love a Strat, but maybe it's just not meant to be my main (or only) guitar. I guess in the long run, it would be best to "downsize" to a cheaper Strat for when I want a Strat sound, and find an LP-type guitar for my main instrument.

Think Floyd
Contributing Member

Eastern PA

May 21st, 2012 06:33 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

As for keeping this Strat for so long while fighting it, it's all about the color. Seriously. Fender had a color contest in the mid-late 90s, and the Blue won. I waited for years until they finally came out with Chrome Blue. I love it so much that I was blinded by the guitar's other faults. Love IS blind, correct?



May 21st, 2012 06:53 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You could try a Custom Player's 60's Strat with the flatter 12 radius or an EJ Strat. The EJ is more expensive than a MIM but apparently worth every penny from whet I read here .

If you got along with the 7.25 radius I would have suggested a MIJ '54 RI neck or even a MIM 50's neck. Both have vintage frets and a V shape which fills your hand nicely .

FDP Data Goon

Hero, hero

you have done so well...
May 21st, 2012 07:06 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sounds like you should be playing a lot of guitars until you find what's right, blind to manufacturer.

Scale lengths in the Gibson or shorter ranges are readily available in all sorts of instruments if that's your thing. Mustang, Jaguar, PRS Santana (SE or otherwise), various other shredder type guitars.

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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / I've had enough, so I'm starting over! (Long)

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