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Fender Japan ST57 from the '90s (and newer)
For some, this is the perfect Strat.
You can find Fender Japan ST57 guitars very easily and can see the listings for them right here. The price range is wide (some cheap, some not) and how it's configured depends on the year. For example, in the '90s you can find some with factory installed Lace Sensor pickups (spotted easily as they have no visible pole pieces).
What I personally like about the ST57 are the colors more than anything else. For whatever reason, colors finished by Fender Japan just seem to pop more, even with polyurethane coating. Sunbursts look more sunny, reds have more warmth, blues look deeper, golds have more flash, and so on. You'll see what I mean when you check them out for yourself.
Most importantly however is the price. The ST57 is absolutely attainable and is not a "you'll never be able to afford it" guitar. You absolutely can afford one of these.
The only complaint anybody really has about the ST57 is the tone. It's not bad tone but is typically lower output because it's supposed to have '50s-like sound to it (meaning alnico III-like rather than alnico V-like). Also, it's typically true the electronics used in Fender Japan guitars aren't as good as American...
...but given the guitar is so much more attainable, even if you threw in a set of Fender Tex Mex pickups, the cost of the guitar and those pickups is STILL less than getting the 100% American version.
One last thing. In the listings for the ST57, you'll see a bunch of them are physically in Japan, but there are also a fair amount of them right here in America. This is not an only-in-Japan guitar. Find the ones here in the USA and that will obviously keep shipping costs down by a lot.
Published 2024 Feb 6
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