I needed another Stratocaster like I need a(nother) hole in the head, but when a great deal comes along you have to pounce.
So it is with the 2015 Fender Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster I picked up this week. I don’t currently own a Fender as all my other Strats but one are Granville, so I had been keeping an eye out recently for one to use at home.
Over the last several days with it, I must say that overall I am very pleased. It’s a very professional quality instrument that most everyone can afford. A good quality Fender gig bag is included and although I hate gig bags this is one their nicer ones. All the shoulder strap clips are solid metal instead of the plastic ones I’ve seen on occasion. The zippers and pockets all work smoothly and it seems like it should last awhile.
Fit and finish are very fine. The “pudding pop” cream finish works for me, the neck pocket is tight and straight and the neck fits my hand very well. Frets are medium jumbos with a somewhat low profile. The weight is right and the pickups (Texas Specials) give plenty of genuine Fenderosity which along with the active preamp are among the most versatile factory setups I’ve played. It remains to be seen whether I’ll swap out the pickups for something with hum cancelling capabilities, but as I love the EMG SPC circuit and this one performs a similar task I imagine I’ll leave the preamp in place.
One very strange thing was that upon removing the back plate to lubricate and adjust the springs I noticed that the routing for the spring cavity had been done AFTER the body was finished. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this on a production guitar from anyone and certainly not from Fender. Several possibilities spring to mind. The cavity may have been routed incorrectly or not at all until after it was finished. Perhaps it was a hard tail that they converted? I don’t know. I checked with my friend and his guitar also has no paint in the spring cavity. It doesnt affect the tone or function of the bridge any, but it IS unusual. And in the interest of a complete report I figured I’d mention it.
The only other thing that bothers me a bit is that this guitar uses a bridge with tighter spaced pivot screws. This is somewhat annoying in that if I keep it I’m likely to want to install my preferred Wilkinson bridge. But, in order to do that I will have to fill the current pivot screw jokes and drill wider spaced ones. I have owned other MIM Strats of recent vintage including a 2011 Blacktop in CAR. That guitar accepted the Wilkinson with no mods at all. So I was a bit disappointed. It’s a little thing, but it’s there.
On the upside, the fret work is truly exceptional. I perform refrets for a living, so you can imagine that I’m fairly critical of such things. But there is nothing to complain about here. The neck adjusts dead flat and the frets are perfectly finished and rounded off. Ive seen guitars that sell for thousands more than this one with fretwork nowhere near as good as this. Bravo!
Another nice thing is the expertly cut and shaped string nut. This is another area where the rubber meets the road and one where affordable guitars usually need help. Not so here. On very close inspection we find the nut is spaced correctly and the slots are shaped perfectly.
So, is it a keeper? Yeah. I’ll be keeping it at home to play on the couch, but this guitar could easily cover just about any situation you might encounter except for one where you may need hum-cancelling pickups.