Thursday, 25 April 2013

Fender Japan ST62-SPL Stratocaster in a choice of two eye-catching Japanese print finishes
Although we here at Guitarz may sometimes speak a little disparagingly of the Stratocaster, it's not really because we don't like the Strat - we appreciate its place in the history of the electric guitar - rather its very omnipresence and a plethora of copies both "el cheapo" and boutique mean that the originality of Leo Fender's great design has become so diluted that when we see a Strat we find ourselves hard pressed to get excited by it. This is why we only ever feature the Strat on Guitarz if it is in some way unusual, be it customised, made from unusual materials, or if it has an unusual or particularly eye-catching finish.

Personally, I can categorically state that I do NOT hate the Strat. I have owned eight or nine of them over the years, having been a Strat player since 1987. I still own and play a Strat nowadays, although not my main go-to guitar it does have its uses and I wouldn't want to be without one. If money were no object and I was in the market for a new guitar, a Stratocaster would not be at the top of my list. However, having seen these latest offerings from Fender Japan does get me thinking, "Oh yes, I'd like one - or both - of those!"

The Fender Japan ST62-SPL Stratocaster is available in two quite tantalizing Japanese print finishes reminiscent of Fender's own pink paisley and blue floral designs, and indeed the Fender Japan TL69 SPL Telecaster which we looked at on this blog two years ago. Although I believe these particular Strats are being produced for the Japanese home market only and not for export, it does show how well Fender's marketing efforts work when someone like me sees a few pretty pictures and instantly wants one, even if underneath the finish it is a basic no-frills Stratocaster with all the usual Stratocaster accouterments. In fact, other than the finish the only unusual feature of the ST62-SPL Strat is that the output socket has been relocated onto the side of the guitar, possibly so as not to obscure some of the finish.

It's nice also, I think, to see Fender Japan issue a series of guitars that celebrates their own Japanese-ness.

G L Wilson

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  1. I think I need to weigh in here, unfortunately, as I've had personal experience with strats like this before....

    I'll admit they do look lovely, and they really do, there are some issues with what is required to make them work.

    The Basic Model of design is the 60's fender paisleys, and that was wallpaper covered in a hell of a lot of poly. 30 years later these aren't looking so good, you will often see someone charging a fortune for a 'paisley' Fender, only to click on it and realise 90% (not kidding) of the finish is gone, usually on the top and back where the poly is thinner.

    Cut to 30 years later, 1990's japan, they begin making the foto flame fender series. Seeing as it's Japanese made, you might imagine they are better built than the older designs, they aren't. Photo paper covered in lots of poly.

    Virtually all of the foto flames that turn up on ebay now are severely cracked, usually just from age, not to mention being dropped. These things abhor sunlight and heat, they can't take it, and eventually just crack severely.

    I purchased one at (what is in Australia) parts value. The entire finish was cracked all over the body with 1 mill wide gaps all over. Above the pick guard on the top the entirety of the finish had falls off from the tremolo forward to the top horn. What was left had to be ironed off, and this was difficult as it was .5 mill on top and back, and 2 mill on the sides and under the neck plate. It was a nightmare.

    The body turned out to have pale grain less basswood layered over dark grainy wood to make it work. I wasn't all of the photo paper off, so the body is lumpy under the refinish. Still sounds and plays great though.

    Basically, be wary people! Be very Wary!

  2. What is the silver bar behind the nut? Looks like it might be a roller nut but why would it be behind the traditional nut? I like the prints myself. Adds a more unique flavor than the standard burst, red and black varieties. Wish the U.S. plant would step away from the "same old looks" and try something fresh. I love Strats & Teles (my favorite) but they have become bland and stale.

    1. That silver bar behind the nut is light reflecting off the shiny lacquer.

    2. It looks unusual because it has a Zero fret. I had to look twice at first too.

  3. Fender Japan ST62 SLP Shell Pink Stratocaster Electric Guitar F/S from Japan
    This is very popular item, and it is sold less than ebay..


  4. I went to Tokyo last week to buy one of these guitars and they are absolutely stunning. They play well and sound nice. The finish is actually cloth attached to the front and back then poly-ed over like Ibanez did with their floral Jems. The pickguard is two plys of clear plexiglass with the same cloth sandwiched between. It is a good sounding strat that plays pretty well straight out of the shop. The 7.5" radius neck, while true to a 62 strat, is a little round for my liking so I will probably put on a larger radius neck but this is a great little guitar for the money.

    oh yeah... and its preeeeety... shiiiiiney...



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