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ID this MIJ Stratocaster?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by brainblip3, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. brainblip3

    brainblip3 New Member!

    Age:
    28
    7
    Dec 11, 2017
    USA
    I just picked up this nice MIJ Stratocaster from a local music store. I've thoroughly examined the guitar, and I can't identify it at all. The body is gorgeous two-piece ash, a fantastic piece of wood, very light and porous for that resonant sound, and I can't say for certain whether the finish is poly or modern nitro-lacquer. It definitely seems thinner than some of the other 2ts MIJ strats that I have, and the wood grain is clear and striking. Neck is V-to-C gloss (not satin like all of the other MIJ strats I own) maple with a MIJ JD13 serial. Based on the serial and the ash body, the catalog is telling me that this could only be either a 2013 ST54-VSP or a 2013 ST54-FSR.

    Here's where it gets weird. The neck has a ST54 stamp on it, but no FSR stamp like the pictures I find online of confirmed FSR strats. Faded marking on the pocket that I can't read, but the neck pocket does show serious craftsmanship as it was clearly milled with extreme care, as opposed to the other strats I own that can be a little rough. I applied a magnet to the tremolo block, and there was no attraction, so I'm assuming it's zinc. But the strangest part are the electronics. Based on the stamps on the pots, these appear to be the original Japanese electronics, but the pickups have the ceramic bar on them and are clearly not Alnicos, which I thought both the FSR and the VSP came with standard. I can't think of any cheap strats that come with ash bodies, so I don't think this is some kind of shady partscaster. Could any experts/collectors offer their opinions?

    Here's the corresponding ebay link with tons of pics: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148356&icep_item=272994482632.
     

  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-A-Holic Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    42
    Apr 19, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Welcome to the forum and happy new year!

    We know a LOT about 80s and 90s and early 2000s Fender Japan stuff.....not much at all on the modern stuff....it would seem even the high end Fender Japan stuff lately has cheap ceramic pickups (even on some VSP models) and I'm not personally a fan. I also don't think they do nitro finish on any guitars anymore...the photos in the ebay ad don't look like nitro, they look like polyurethane to me....the best to ask would be....

    consumerrelations@fender.com and if they don't have the info they should be able to direct you to someone with Fender Japan.....

    As for the block, they are all zinc - I have not seen solid steel since the 1982-84 JV and SQ serial numbers, and even some of those are zinc.....
     

  3. brainblip3

    brainblip3 New Member!

    Age:
    28
    7
    Dec 11, 2017
    USA

  4. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-A-Holic Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    42
    Apr 19, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    There was a forum member here who bought a 2014-2016 ish VSP and imported it to the UK and I can't remember who it was maybe @Tee H C - and it turned out to have ceramic pickups....
     

  5. altar

    altar Strat-Talker

    460
    Oct 4, 2016
    USA
    I looked up the serial number on Fender's site and it came back as "54 STRAT (ST54/VSP 2TS)" so it appears the body is original too. From the pictures and the visible wear I would say it's a poly finish and not nitro. Like Guitarmageddon said you may want to email Fender for more info.
     

  6. brainblip3

    brainblip3 New Member!

    Age:
    28
    7
    Dec 11, 2017
    USA

  7. QuackAttack

    QuackAttack Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    27
    Nov 18, 2017
    Kobe
    It doesn’t seem like a VSP to me.
    A 2013 ST54 VSP should have a steel block, CTS pots and alnico pickups. My 2009 ST57 VSP has all of the above.

    The Fender Japan catalogs say the VSPs have a “lacquer topcoat”. I don’t know if this means there’s poly coats underneath or what.

    You sure that’s a 2 piece body? I can only see one seam for sure but it’s off center. All the VSP bursts I’ve seen had a middle seam.

    Can you tell me where you looked up the SN? I didn’t know a Fender Japan SN could tell you the model.
     
    Yves likes this.

  8. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    I believe that is what it means, yes. It seems to be quite common in Japanese guitars. Some Tokais have a nitro top coat, & they don't really feel much different to my hands when compared to a normal poly finished guitar. It certainly has a much harder feel than the nitro Fender USA uses on stuff like the AVRIs, which is softer.

    Also, the pickup poles on this guitar are staggered. Do you get ceramic pickups with staggered poles? I thought that they all used flat poles?
     

  9. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    Fenders that get out of Japan never seem to match the catalogues these days. I think they have started staggering the poles on some ceramic pickups now.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018

  10. brainblip3

    brainblip3 New Member!

    Age:
    28
    7
    Dec 11, 2017
    USA
    Yeah I've come to the conclusion that proper ID might be impossible since there is growing evidence that these late Japan Strats don't follow their spec sheets at all. I however am convinced I've found a VSP since there is no FSR stamp on the neck pocket, but I suppose it's not a huge deal since I will have to change the electronics anyways from the cheap ceramics, and that is like 80-90% of the sound.
     

  11. QuackAttack

    QuackAttack Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    27
    Nov 18, 2017
    Kobe
    Really?
    There is almost nothing about the guitar you described that’s consistent with a VSP.
    The only thing that points to VSP is a 2 piece body but the guitar in the eBay link doesn’t look like a 2 piece.

    You said the “catalog” told you it’s a VSP. Which catalog is that?
     

  12. QuackAttack

    QuackAttack Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    27
    Nov 18, 2017
    Kobe
    I thought staggered poles on ceramic pickups was common. For Fender Japan, at least.
     

  13. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    51
    Nov 14, 2013
    Alabama
    Whatever it is it's gorgeous!

    HNGD! :thumb:
     

  14. altar

    altar Strat-Talker

    460
    Oct 4, 2016
    USA

    I don't know what he used but I used the registration site and it came back as "54 STRAT (ST54/VSP 2TS)", here's a screenshot:

    2018-01-03.png
     
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  15. brainblip3

    brainblip3 New Member!

    Age:
    28
    7
    Dec 11, 2017
    USA
    Honestly, I'm getting extremely annoyed at your tone. I'm an avid Stratocaster collector with a large collection of USA and Japanese strats. I have every Twang catalog from Fender Japan's inception all the way to 2014. The guitar, whatever it is, is clearly off spec. There is not a single offering in Twang that matches a 2P Ash body with ceramic Japanese pickups. I'm not particularly surprised considering that this was around the time that Fender Japan was closing, so many guitars were simply given whatever parts could be spared. To compare your 2009 experience to the 2013 experience is clearly not useful given all the evidence that has already been presented.
     

  16. QuackAttack

    QuackAttack Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    27
    Nov 18, 2017
    Kobe
    The Wikipedia of Fender serial numbers. Thanks for answering.

    Oops. Didn’t mean to ruffle your tail feathers. Sorry about that. A lot of people that hear me play get annoyed by my tone too.

    I just think it’s a bummer that you didn’t get what you should have if that guitar is a VSP. Hope you got a deal on it.

    Thanks for kind of answering my question about the catalog. You’re right of course. The 2013 only shows a VSP ST54.

    I haven’t seen a Twang later than 2013. Would love to see your 2014.

    Good luck replacing the innards and enjoy your guitar.
     

  17. altar

    altar Strat-Talker

    460
    Oct 4, 2016
    USA
    Not really. You can manually add a serial number if it doesn't show up in their search but the info will only show up under your account and won't show up in a public search. A search for a serial number will only show info from Fender, at least that is what I was told when I asked.
     
    QuackAttack likes this.

  18. QuackAttack

    QuackAttack Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    27
    Nov 18, 2017
    Kobe
    Nice to know. Thanks for setting me straight.
     
    altar likes this.

  19. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Good reply! :D
     
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