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SX Hawk in Lake Placid Blue is good


Good guitar. Priced right.

The SX Hawk from Rondo in New Hampshire arrived. After some setup and what I call standard Stratocaster fixes, the guitar now sounds and plays right.

I'll mention these fixes first before getting into the guitar and what I think of it.

My Standard Stratocaster Fixes

When I first set up a Stratocaster type guitar, I of course change the strings, adjust the string saddles, adjust the neck relief and so on.

After that, however, there are a few additional things I do, if necessary.

1. Replacement of the string tree spacer

On many Stratocaster type guitars - including ones made by Fender themselves - for some stupid reason it's common practice to have the B and high-E string tree spacer way too short. What this does is place those two strings almost flush to the headstock, thereby increasing the break angle from the nut and making the strings feel too tight when tuned to pitch.

If you look at just about any string tree kit, you'll see the tree (as in the string guide) itself, screws and usually two spacers. One spacer is taller and the other shorter in case you have a two-tree setup.

I use the taller spacer. Too-tight B and high-E string problem solved, and the B and high-E strings stay in their nut slots just fine as they should.

These spacers can be found at Home Depot or Lowe's, by the way. They're usually in nylon in a white color. But if you can't find them there or can't find the right size, just by a string tree kit with two spacers and use the taller one.

2. Getting the pickup springs to shut up

The vast majority of Stratocaster type guitars use springs under the pick guard to hold up the pickups. A standard practice is to replace the springs with a small length of surgical tubing. This specific tubing is used because it's softer and easier to work with compared to a different type like aquarium tubing.

However, my solution is much simpler and allows to keep using the existing springs. Teflon tape, also known as shower tape. As in the stuff you use when installing a shower head in the bathroom. This stuff is dirt cheap and available at any department or hardware store. Take the spring, wrap 1 or 2 layers of Teflon tape over it, done. Reinstall pickup springs.

This tape is thin, cancels out any noise those springs may make, is plenty flexible, lasts a very long time (basically the life of the guitar) and allows adjusting pickup height exactly the same as before. There's no difference except the spring ringing is gone.

3. Getting the rear claw tremolo springs to shut up

Two options here.

If the tremolo isn't used, wrap in Teflon tape just like the pickup springs.

If the tremolo is used, take an old guitar string, bend in half so you create a loop at the bend point, tear off a piece of paper towel, then use the loop you made to pull the paper towel through the spring. All the ringing will be muffled by the paper towel and you can still use the springs normally. In addition, the paper towel is completely hidden by the spring itself since it's on the inside of the coil. Job done.

My take on the SX Hawk

This is the guitar you buy when you want a Strat with a thicker neck with more shoulder that doesn't feel like a boat oar. I just talked about thickness vs. shoulder recently concerning guitar necks, and the Hawk has both.

With Fender, you'll notice that you only get a "deep C" thickness when you step up to the American Professional II model Stratocaster. It costs a lot of money to spend just to get a neck with some chunk to it from Fender.

With Squier, it is actually their cheapest model that has a neck with chunk to it, the Bullet.

So you're left with the choice of either going expensive or dirt cheap if staying within the Fender brands of Fender or Squier...

...or you can just get an SX Hawk, which is what I did. Thicker neck, flatter fretboard (either 12" or 14" radius), jumbo frets, cheaper than a Squier Bullet with close to the same build quality as a Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster.

Is the Hawk perfect? No. Setup was needed. The springs had some nasty ringing going on, so I took care of that. The B/high-E string tree spacer was too high, so I replaced that. And then it was good.

The best compliment I can give the guitar is that you're getting way more than its asking price. I like it, the weight is right, the neck feels right, the sound is good enough for what it is.

My only real complaint is that the pickups don't have all that much personality to them, so a pickup change may be in my Hawk's future.

Given how low the price of the guitar is, one could argue that this guitar was made to be modded. It's certainly good enough as-is, but the Hawk is also a fantastic project guitar for modding.

Other things I can say about the Hawk is that the tuners are just as good as any other mid-tier guitar out there, controls are smooth and everything works. I also didn't find any finish flaws anywhere, and the Lake Placid Blue has the right shade of blue and right amount of metallic flake to it. Looks great.

The Big Question... whether you like a thicker neck with more shoulder to it or not if you're thinking about getting one of these.

This best way you can answer this question is this: Does the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster neck feel too thin? If the answer is yes, then get an SX Hawk. You will have to set up the guitar yourself and might have to do a few little things to it that I mentioned above, but it's still a great guitar all around.

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