First I would check current prices for both models. Quality wise they are going to be very close, but in general, the Standard may get a better return. I'm mentioning the prices because what I had to pay to get my 2004 CIJ Aerodyne was more than I had expected.
The changes the guys are suggesting are all possible. Just put the new strings on a see what needs to be done. My actual experience, going from 10's to 10.5's on a Jazzmaster, required no changes at all.
This is not a comment on the Aerodyne line. I have one of the 2004 models and I'm crazy about it.
But, this afternoon our local GC finally got one in stock and I had to give it a shot.
Turns out it was a return, probably 5 or 6 months old, and still with the original strings (9-42).
Sorry for the delay, I completely overlooked the thread for a while. I did have my luthier replace the pickup height adjustment screws and he confirmed the the pickups are Fender AlNiCo 5. He also found the pots to be USA made. But the three-way switch is Japanese, and sealed. For which I am...
I have the Mary Kaye version of the AV56. I'm not sure that those pickups are AlNiCo 3. They seem a little more powerful than the 3's on my AV54.
And these guys are correct in finding the wrong neck on that guitar.
Be carefull what you wish for. A luthier friend built a Strat with an ebony board and we could not get the high end under control no matter what we did with either the guitar or the amp. Within a month he swapped the neck for a single piece maple.
The best deal I ever got on a guitar was on my AmPro. I bought the version 1 on the day that the version 2 was introduced at GC. The Sienna burst had been tagged at $1999, and as part of a clearence sale, they let me have it for $1200.
The pickups can be bright, but the tone control keeps that...
Well, you have to have several of the American Vintage models, at least one CS, a couple Standards (maple & rosewood), either a EC or EJ, an Aerodyne, and maybe an old Deluxe. So between 12 and 14 would be nornal.
While I've seen minor problems with every brand I've ever played, I can't say that I've ever sworn off on any of them, or encouraged other to do so. These are after all man made products and prone to human error. And I know enough about the nature of these things to see promise in an instrument...