Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Six String Side: 1988 Fender Strat Plus

When I started this blog over ten years ago, I stated that it was a "Bicycle and guitar oriented elixir....". Well, the "guitar" part sort of got pushed out by the bicycle stuff, but I've always been playing. In the Easter post, I mentioned playing my '90 Strat, and someone suggested I detail the fleet, so here ya go. Hopefully ya'll enjoy the change in pace. I'll post something periodically throughout the year. Here's #1.....

1988 Fender Strat Plus model in "Antique White".
 The first guitar up in this series is my '88 Strat. I am the original owner and it is still one of my favorite guitars. Here's the story on this particular instrument.....

In 1987 I was hankerin' for a new guitar. I never had purchased a brand, spankin' new one, so I was going to use my tax return and check out something new. I was all over the latest guitar news in the magazines back then, and I saw the new Fender "Strat Plus" models featured and they looked to have some cool new features over the Strats of the past. I was always warned by guitar players to be careful about Stratocasters. They told me that many of the 70's and early 80's pieces were fraught with quality issues, wouldn't stay in tune, and the tremolos were essentially unworkable. Of course, there were "pre-CBS" Strats, the models made when Leo Fender still ran the show, but even in the 80's, those were really hard to find and then you had to have a lot of cash to get one. More than I could afford at the time.

The pick ups are "Lace Sensors", which at the time were really cutting edge units.
The Strat Plus seemed to address many of the issues I had heard about and were priced well. Fender had been bought back by some employees and the factory was moved and revamped to get the guitars made in a way that ensured a better instrument. The Strat Plus featured some new, and to me, unknown features that attracted my attention. The tremolo was a Wilkinson unit that pivoted on two studs instead of the old fashioned six screws that Fender had used since the 50's. The nut, the part the strings break over at the head stock, was a roller bearing, so your strings wouldn't hang up when you used the tremolo bar and make you go out of tune. What is more, the Strat Plus had these cool locking tuners. No more winding strings forever around a peg, and string changes were far easier. Finally, the three "Lace Sensor" pick ups looked so cool. They were supposedly quieter than previous Fender pick ups, but I know now they still produce noise. It's okay though, because they sound great and still look pretty darn cutting edge, even after all these years. 

So, in April of 1988 I had my tax return and I heard about a "Guitar Month" sale on Fender guitars at the old music store we had in town called the "Music Corner". It used to be located in downtown Waterloo, but by this time it was playing out its last days at a strip mall in Cedar Falls, ironically where Bob's Guitars is now. I'll get back to that in a minute.

Mmmm! Locking Schaller tuners! Staying in tune is important to today's musician!
So, anyway, I went to the shop and asked about the Fender Strat Plus model. Bob Guthart, (yes, the Bob of Bob's Guitars), worked there and he said, "This one's a pretty nice one.", and he reached over the counter to hand it to me. The minute I touched it I knew I had to have it. It's kind of weird, but my favorite guitars all have made a pretty quick connection with me, but the Strat Plus was instantaneous. I couldn't stop thinking about it. It was more than my tax return, so I had to scrape up some more cash, but within a couple of weeks I had purchased it. I want to say it cost about $850.00 or so at the time, but my memory may be off there. Hey! It was almost 30 years ago now!

So, anyway, that started out a relationship with Bob that I have right up to this day. I don't think I had ever met him before I purchased this Strat. He runs his own shop now, as I mentioned, and I still buy almost all of my gear from him. So, this guitar represents a longtime retail relationship and I believe it is the longest running one I have going. I have purchased several items from Bob over the years. Some guitars and at least one amplifier, and some of that will be discussed in this series at some point. Of course, Bob went through the Music Corner and another shop first before he got Bob's up and running, but anyway...... I digress......

No. 8
 The last story about this guitar has to do with the sticker on the upper horn. It is a dirty old sticker with a number "8" on it. Back when I bought this guitar, I figured it was the eighth one I had ever owned. Then shortly after that, I got a new pair of trousers and in the pocket was a tag that said "Inspected by...." and this sticker was on that tag. I guess I got inspired to stick it on the Strat, and it has been there ever since.

I have the original hang tags and all the "case candy" for this one, and the original, blow-molded case, which I had to repair once. One of the latches broke off from its plastic moorings, so I fashioned a new, more reinforced back plate and re-attached the latch. It's been fine for several years now.

That's number one it this series, and at some point, I'll photograph another guitar and write up another story. Almost all of my stuff has some story attached to it, so it should be an okay diversion from all the bike stuff once in a while. If not, ya'all let me know and I'll can it.

Thanks for reading, as always.


Okie Outdoorsman said...

Beautiful Strat! Really enjoyed the post. Am a fellow guitarist, in addition to being a cyclist. There is definitely some kind of connection between the two activities. Both cycling, and music, are outlets for creativity. There is pure joy, and beauty, in a ride, just as in a song. Each ride, and guitar session contain our very own renditions of what we enjoy.

Thank you for the post. Looking forward to seeing those future write-ups on the guitars.

MICHAEL said...

Ditto. Although I cannot claim that I can really play a guitar, I do love to plug in my purple Washburn and wail away from time to time. Powered by my 15-watt Marshall combo unit, I can impersonate musicality from time to time .... (Deep Purple, BTO, ...)

Guitar Ted said...

Thanks folks! Well, it looks as though this wasn't a dud, so expect there to be another post on one of my guitars in the near future.

Doug said...

I enjoyed reading about your strat. I am a cyclist and a wannabe guitarist. I attempt to play a highly modified 1990 MIK Fender Squier II Stratocaster. I bought it new. The only original parts left are the body, neck and the jack plate. As a fan of Eric Clapton I am well informed about the Lace Sensor Pick-ups. His Signature Strat from 1990-2000 had Lace Sensors. That's what he was playing on tour during that time. I always loved the sound he got from those strats.

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug: Thanks!! I had a MIK Strat for a bit. It was actually not too bad, except the pick ups were really noisy!

Stay tuned.....I have a feeling you will be interested in my '90 Clapton Signature "Blackie". ;>)

Doug said...

What?!! You also have a '90 Clapton Signature "Blackie"? Looking forward to that post now.

The pick-ups in my MIK Squier II Strat weren't the best. It now has Fender Texas Special Strat Pick-ups. It really fattened up the tone. It sounds like a real Strat now. And they're not as noisy.

Dave said...

Cool-thanks for the change up! I'm a guitar/cyclist too and love the Fender sound. Always enjoy your posts-

Guitar Ted said...

@Dave: Thanks!!!

@Doug- Yep. I'm also the original owner of that one as well.

Those Texas Special pickups sound sweet!