I looked for a really good original ’57 Strat with a good neck and plenty of tone for a while. I kissed quite a few frogs and discovered that while they were collectible as hell, they weren’t for me as a player. The cleans are sublime but I don’t like how they break up with drive, too glassy for my taste and style.
So instead I started looking out for an Eric Johnson model, itself based on a ’57 with a couple of modern tweaks and widely thought to be the best Fender Strat of the modern era.
This one turned up and it’s really resonant. It’s quite bright but given the artist connection I was surprised and disaapointed with the pickups.
Of all the Strats I’ve owned, it is by far the most sensitive to fine adjustment. Get things wrong and the sound really suffers. Pickups are extremely sensitive to fine height adjustment – too high and the magnets damp the strings and make it too percussive and it starts to warble; too low and it’s smoother but the output is too quiet to get good overdrive – even a small fraction of a millimetre makes a big difference.
So I dropped a set of Lollar Strat Specials in and things improved substantially. I’ve now used it a main gigging guitar for years and the guitar’s sound, if not my playing, has attracted numerous compliments, so I can attest to the quality of these pickups.
Now it transpires that my Firebird has a Lollar in it too. No wonder it sounds so damn great.