Fender | RRP: AU$1,699
Fender are a company that pride themselves on their instruments being completely modifiable. In addition to using a lot of interchangeable parts through their 70 year history, they also freely sell different parts and accessories for replacement or customisation of your guitar or bass. Admittedly there’s a few customisations that aren’t so simple, and they have you covered there as well: enter the Fender Player Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS.
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This is a Player Strat, but routed to allow the Floyd Rose Special Double-Locking Tremolo to dive right back into the recessed cavity beneath the bridge. Traditionally, flat top a Floyd Rose has been common on Strats, thinking of players like Dave Murray of Iron Maiden and Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, but there’s don’t have the ability to dive right back without the recessed cavity, and because Fender aren’t one to shy away from toeing a line, the Player Stratocaster with Floyd Rose was born, this one in particular finished in Tidepool and featuring a maple neck and fretboard.
Tidepool is a colour introduced with the Player Series and blends a long history of watery, metallic blues that have featured on Fenders since day dot. Usually matched with a white pickguard, the Player Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS features a black pickguard for a more dynamic and striking look, contrasted against the maple with a Gloss Urethane Finish. The Floyd Rose itself is nickel in colour, matched with the Floyd Rose Locking Nut, retainer bar and Standard Cast/Sealed tuning machines.
Adding to the contrast are three Parchment Plastic white knobs, a master volume and two tones, used to roll off high end on the middle/neck pickup and bridge pickups respectively. The pickups are finished in the same Parchment white, a HSS configuration made up of a Player Series Alnico 5 Strat single-coil in the neck and middle position and a Player Series Alnico 2 Humbucking pickup in the bridge. Having a humbucker further modernises this Strat, as if the recessed Floyd, Tidepool finish and modern neck shape weren’t enough!
The neck shape is a Modern “C”, as with all the Player Series, and now the Player Plus series, and the 22 medium jumbo frets feature a modern 12” radius. What’s more, the back of the neck has a satin finish to offer the great looks of the gloss on the front but nice feel of the satin on the back as you slide up and down the fretboard noodling and diving on the Floyd Rose.
In the hands, the Player Stratocaster with Floyd Rose feels great. To be completely transparent, I was worried the Floyd Rose would hinder my ability to reach for the volume and tone while playing, but the bridge itself nestles nicely against the body and isn’t in the way at all. The fine tuners are a welcome addition, to make sure your tuning is as accurate as can be, and the locking nut keeps everything locked down.
The body shape is classic Strat and despite featuring a fairly wildly un-Strat-like floating tremolo system, it feels like any other Strat you may have had your hands on. The maple fretboard offers an articulate attack that makes lead playing stand out while keeping it warm and present. The Alnico 5 humbucker helps with this too, making for a fatter sound than the usual angled single coil found in most Strats, offering chords that resonate through the alder body, all of which are controlled by a 5-way blade switch.
The neck, while being a ‘Modern’ “C” by Fender’s standards, definitely doesn’t feel as modern as some super-Strats, and players of all creeds will feel at home. It’s chunky enough to grab a hold of, but not so baseball bat-esque that you’ll struggle. The frets themselves are the perfect size, still classic Fender vintage feel but big enough to feel modern and really grab ahold of notes.
The Player Series aims to bring a Fender into the hands of anyone and everyone, all the while bringing people into the world of Fender. A standard Strat, to be fair, won’t always handle super modern metal and rock, but the addition of a humbucker in one changes all that very quickly.
Wailing and soaring leads are aided by the addition of a Floyd Rose bridge, a Special Double-Locking tremolo to be specific, and the addition of a recessed cavity to bend right back makes this a modern Player, per se. Besides that, it’s everything you’d expect in a modern Strat. It’s well-constructed, with intuitive electronics and a list of tones available that is only limited to your imagination.
A Floyd Rose system is something that every guitar player can find a use for, and if you’re weary then maybe a more affordable option like the Player Series is perfect as they won’t hurt your bottom line. Fender is a company dedicated to offering players everything they want, the tools to create the dream instrument, and for those more complex customisations like routing, they offer models made that way in the factory itself. I’ve heard it said that every player needs a Strat, and also that every player needs a Floyd—so why not get both? You won’t be disappointed.
Head to Fender’s website to check out this guitar.