60's Roadworn Strat - Really long review

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Axis29, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    When I was young and first learning guitar, I was a huge fan of Santana, Greg Allman and B.B. King. I loved the creamy leads they all played and wanted that sound to be mine. I searched and searched. I wanted that fat Gibson tone. So I decided I needed to have a Gibson semi-hollow bodied guitar. But, I didn’t care for the new ones as they sounded nothing like the tone I was chasing. I found a vintage guitar shop that seemed to specialize in Gibsons. The owner, a very nice guy named Gil, turned me on to a lesser model of the 335 family known as the 340. They sold for about half of what a vintage 335 sold for… so I saved, and scrimped, and eventually came into a windfall of money to add to my little pile.

    I went back to the little shop and found a beautiful example at a good price, better than I expected, actually and grabbed it off the wall. In the few months preceding this event, I had really been getting into Clapton and SRV. I had never even tried a Stratocaster, but thought maybe it was something I should check out.

    So, I asked Gil, “You got any cheap Strats laying around?”

    “I got just the thing.” He replied.

    He brought out an ’82 MIJ ’62 reissue, that had the nitro finish, a good bit of wear and what we now call relicing to the body. It was a very nice guitar. I noodle on it for about a three minutes before I was hooked.

    I was hooked from then on. I loved my Gibson, but I would pick up the strat to warm up. I would play it for a while, then grab the Gibson… sometimes. Sometimes, I would just play the strat… and feel guilty pleasure in it.

    I played that strat so much, I wore the frets off of her between about the 6th and 15th frets! I was young, what did I know? I though these kind of easy playing guitars were everywhere. I didn’t have enough money to get it refretted and decided I wanted to learn how to play slide… again, I wanted the Greg Allman sound, so I traded the strat in on an early 70’s Gibson Midnight Special…. Which I just never played.

    I miss that strat to this very day.

    So, I’ve been getting back into Fenders for a few years now. I play more and more and am in an amateur band now. I picked up my Gibson again after years of nit sitting in a case, but I was back thinking about strats too. I’ve moved through a few different ones, and came to a nice CP50’s in shoreline Gold. IT is an absolutely beautiful playing guitar and I love it.

    I decided, however, to sell the Gibson, that just sat in it’s case or on a stand and never got played because I was busy working my Fenders to death. So, with a little extra cash, my brain returned to finding a way to spend it.
    I got to thinking about another three tone sunburst, with a rosewood fretboard. I knew this would be completely different than my current 50’s style strat. I wanted creamier pickups, something fat and hotter than the 57/62’s. I wanted something that felt like nitro. A relic would be nice, but I can’t afford a Custom Shop guitar… even though the Gibson brought good money, I had other things to take care of money-wise, so I was on a limited budget.

    A week before I sold my Gibson, darn if Fender didn’t light a fire under my rear! The dang Roadworn series. There it was, the things I had wanted…. Something that looked like my old guitar, might feel like my old guitar and would sound different than my current strat.

    So, to make a long story short (well, maybe not so short?), I tried one, loved it. Went through a bud and got a good deal on mine (below list and below the discount coupon I had for GC). I went to the other music store and they hadn’t even pulled them onto the floor yet. The guitar guy went down to the warehouse, pulled up a box and pulled her out for me. He tuned her up and let me at it. I knew right away I liked this one. She was better than the other two I had played at other guitar stores. The neck felt a little thicker in my fingers, the wear wasn’t extreme and she sounded dead quiet. I brought her home.
     

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  2. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    Cont.

    Now, I’ll admit, I can’t put the dang guitar down. She feels like an old pair of Jeans. She slips right into place and is smooth and soft. I’ve always loved that velvety feeling of a nitro finish and this one has it in spades. OF course, she doesn’t look new, but then, neither do I!

    If we start at the Headstock, we find that the finish is a nice aged nitro looking color. Dark and golden, but not unrealistic at all. There is a rather even satin finish to the tuners wit no shine left on them anywhere. They look good from the front, but I’ll admit the backs are a little too even. Give me a couple of months of playing it and I bet they change a good deal. They operate correctly. They are smooth and even without any rusty grindy feeling. They have a n even tension and hold tune well. The end of the headstock got a good beating, I guess they figured you bump into a lot of things when you’re Roadworn. Might be a tad over the top on it. The bottom edge has a few dings and dents too.

    The neck as stated in the specs is a 7.25 radius. I love this radius. The rosewood of the fingerboard is dry looking and a little light in color for a guitar that’s supposed to be 20 years old. But a little oil and it’s starting to darken up nicely and not feel so dry. The fret markers look like clay dots. The nut looks brand new., no rounded edges, or coloring, etc. But it’s cut decently, I haven’t needed to mess with it. The frets are ‘tall vintage’ which means they are narrow like vintage frets, but tall like Jumbos. They are a decent fret. I have no issue with them. They are easy enough to play, bend, fret chords etc. I like the fact that the fretboard is not artificially beaten to heck and back. There are no fake looking wear spots or rubs on it. The only place the fretboard got any relic type treatment was a nice rolling of the edges. The back of the neck is a nice thick C profile. I have read that this is what those early 60’s necks were like, but I cannot attest to it. Either way, I like it. It fills my hand nicely. The wear on this particular guitar is a little bit more than two others I tried, but not too the extreme. Just a little more. The maple coming through the nitro finish is smooth and tight grained. The Nitro is smooth, not sticky. The wear on the back of the neck falls under the spots my hands sit as I play, so I think it is somewhat realistic. I have looked at a number of images of vintage Strats over the years, and this wear looks pretty good. It’s not a completely bare neck, like some of the poor looking relics get, but thins out near the headstock, wears towards the top and fades out around the fifth fret. Then appears again as if you would grab at the 12th fret. The truss rod adjustment is at the heel of the neck as a vintage strat should have.
    The neck to body joint is nice and tight. The pickguard meets tightly against the bottom of the neck as well. Most of the screws, but not all, have had the finish roughed off the heads, but unlike a lot of real vintage strats, they aren’t all stripped out! LOL

    The pickups came in mine very low to the pickguard. I was impressed by this little bit as it’s not always the case. The bass side of the beck pickup was only about 1/32 above the pickguard and the treble side, maybe 3/16. All three pickups get progressively further away from the pickguard, as they end up being on all of my strats. That’s not something I expect form the Mexican Factory. I truly expect to have to adjust them on every new guitar I buy. Since I saw the guy pull the staples and this guitar right out of the box, I was amazed!

    The pickup pole pieces have metal shavings on them. Every one of the Roadworn guitars I’ve tired has them. I’m not sure where it comes from, and it seems kind of odd. The pickups are Tex-Mex. They are warmer than the standard Mexican Strat pickups… much warmer than the vintage strat pickups that are in some reissue guitars as well. They have a nice string definition, though, unlike many hotter pickups, you still hear that pick on string sound. I am tempted to try full on Texas Specials, but I am enjoying these pickups enough to not feel the need any time soon. The aged pickup covers, are nice, the top and bottom edges are rounded smooth and there is a nick in one, small, but still there. The ends of the magnets all look a tad corroded too (though it may be a stain of some sort). I found this to be an interesting touch.

    The knobs are mildly aged, a little smudge here and there, the paint in the word Tone not complete and a few of the numbers on the dials as well. However, the edges of the actual plastic and the grooves are still sharp. The switch tip and tremolo tip are both sanded mildly to remove the sheen and feel nice and soft. Wonder why the knobs didn’t get this treatment? The trem arm is corroded evenly, but thankfully not on the threads. It screwed in nice and smooth like.
     

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  3. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    The pickguard is a mint guard that has had all of it’s shine removed. Then they sprayed some sort of stain around the edges, but not under the strings. It’s a nice job and looks pretty good for a mass produced guitar. I think it looks nice enough for me not to fool with it. It feels nice too. There is no static charge as can be found on my single ply white guarded strat and my pearloid guard on my Tele. Maybe I needed to sand them down too? The pickguard fits well, the screws are all straight and it looks like non have been overtightened or left loose.

    The trem is a typical vintage six point trem. It has aging on the saddles, screws and trem plate. I read somewhere this has the newer larger trem block. Dunno, but I haven’t fooled with anything under the cover at all. It operates smoothly, floats nicely above the body. I have had no tuning issues with it’s use.

    The jack is tight, there is a mild scuff to the surface, again a little more even than natural wear would be, but it looks nice just the same. And if six months from now I haven’t run the plug against it enough to scratch it some….

    The body…. Ahh the body. There are a few dings and dents here and there. I will admit I think there are some of these bodies which have way too many peck marks. This is, luckily a little less pecked. There are a few here and there, but not too many. The wide expanses of flat space have a shine to them, like they once really did look new. There are wear marks where the arm sits at the top of the body. And a few dents and rub marks around the edges both front and back, but nothing too heavy. These are a little rougher than the neck wear, but not harsh. The paint itself is smooth and velvety. IT is not highly polished and I’m sure it’s super thin. There is no checking to the paint, yet. I think it is a halfway decent relic job. Much better than those I see on eBay and maybe not as good as one you’d pay 3k for. But, I like it. The strap pins have been given the same even satin treatment as the tuners.

    The only part I am disappointed in, is the trem spring cover. I pulled the Fender string sticker off to find that the part had been sprayed with their tinting with the sticker in place. Luckily, it didn’t get too heavy of a treatment, but I found that very, very odd indeed. It’s like there’s a very faint ghost of the sticker outline…. Kinda funny really. It’ll be all scratched up by this time next year anyway.


    The two big points of this guitar for me are tactile and nostalgic. The tactile thing is wonderful. The velvety smooth nitro and wear marks are wonderful to my fingers. It truly reminds me of my most worn in jeans. Soft, supple and fits just right.

    The nostalgic thing? Well, that’s all me. This guitar really does remind me of that 62 reissue I had back in the day. My first. It’s like getting your first girlfriend back…. Hmm, I better be careful if my wife hears about this, I’m a dead man!
     

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  4. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    Last one.... SOrry it's so long!

    I know, I'm a little long winded some days....
     

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  5. 66musicmaster

    66musicmaster Senior Stratmaster

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    Nice review of a guitar that's not getting a lot of love. Congrats on your new find. Sounds like you two will be happy together.

    Randy
     
  6. nars1l

    nars1l Strat-Talker

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    Great review - with all the hubbub around the Roadworn series it's nice to hear someone's simple, honest opinion that actually owns one. It's a damn good looking guitar too - glad to hear you enjoy it so much. If they weren't $950 I'd consider picking one up myself...

    My suggested solution for the back trem cover: just take the whole darn thing off. Don't really need it anyways do ya?
     
  7. Bruster

    Bruster Strat-O-Master

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    Great review. I really have become a relic fan. I'm glad you are happy.
     
  8. hendrixfan

    hendrixfan Senior Stratmaster

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    good review,plenty of usefull information,
     
  9. asc67

    asc67 Senior Stratmaster

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    Good review, thanks.
     
  10. CandyAppleHead

    CandyAppleHead Strat-O-Master

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    Nice review and pics Axis29...what about the sound? In fact better still, how about some sound clips!
     
  11. thaus

    thaus Most Honored Senior Member

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    Thanks for the great review. I own a couple of relics myself but am not the biggest relic fan out there but the ones I have tried are great guitars. The only bothersome thing on these to my eye is the forearm wear; doesn't look very real. Looks too belt-sander smooth for some reason. Can never understand why they do that with strats..........I have a white relic that has just a hint of this type of wear at that point and it looks like it happened from years of playing. But I regress.........nice write up and good to hear an honest opinion from someone that has one!!
     
  12. Diamond Jim

    Diamond Jim Strat-O-Master

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    Thanks for the review. Although I don't have the change necessary to buy one, I do find them interesting, if not absolutely desirable. I understand about the nostalgia thing. My wife is really glad my mid-life crisis revolves around trying to re-acquire old gear and not girlfriends,lol.

    Enjoy that strat,

    Jim
     
  13. adaptable

    adaptable Strat-Talker

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    Great review! A little heavy on the nostalgia at first, but the sentiment is in the right place. I'm guilty of it too: I bought and sold a couple of Strats in my college days...then didn't play them for years, favoring the twang of Teles...Then I picked up a Strat with a C-Shape neck one day (2002 American Deluxe) busting out the SRV/Hendrix riffs, and folks were coming up to me at the Guitar Center near Seattle store asking what band I was in and to recommend gear for them (vested Microsoft employee)! That guitar just felt like home....and the folks at GC sold it to me for cost because I recommended a bunch of vintage gear to the Microsoft guy and his family.

    I played one of the Road Worns last week at GC and immediately started plotting a way to get one in the budget....especially after having played a real 1965 Strat the night before and being extremely impressed by the similarity in feel. I recently picked up a $999 Eric Johnson, which is a great guitar at an incredible price, but not the guitar I long for ultimately.... perhaps after the neck has a bit of wear or because I an so used to the C-Shape necks....wait a minute... That's the Road Worn Series with the rosewood fingerboard! I may be leaning towards selling the EJ and getting the Road Worn....but wish there was a way I could keep them both.

    How are you liking the sound of the pickups after a few days? They were probably the only thing that held me back from picking one of these up on the spot. The 60 cycle hum was very noticeable in this Guitar Center. I like the extra bright evenness of the pickups on the Eric Johnson, and my Relic Tele.....unfortunately the road worn does not have this quality. EJ and the Relic have a vintage quality to them (probably because they are hand wound), and the 60 cycle hum is not very pronounced in my environment. My Nashville Tele with Texas Specials sounds a bit uneven with too much emphasis on the D & G strings. The vintage noiseless on my American Deluxe sound too compressed and lacks output, even after they've been raised, and certainly do not have the vintage quality that the Relic has.

    But at the same time, the Road Worn neck plays as good if not better than my Relic (which is a tele), I can't get enough of those worn in necks....So this is probably a great guitar to modify with expensive pickups.

    Here is the real 65 Strat I played the night before I played the Road Worn....notice the similarities?

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    Uh, I warned you it'd be long... :D

    My wife thinks I have a tendency to talk a lot. I swear I dunno here she gets that though. :oops:

    I am still loving these pickups almost a week into them. I cannot wait to pick this guitar up and I love listening to it plugged in. I enjoy it with a little grit on it, but I love 'em clean as a whistle too!

    The real acid test will be Saturday as I have band practice...


    Now, these do have typical single coil hum, but no more than my 57/62's. Maybe even less actually. Now, these Tex-Mex pickups are not that 50's vintage sound the Eric Johnson's probably have or that my 57/62's have. They are a different beast. With my 57/62's I get a nice twang and a bright attack, bright and full. They are very open sounding pickups. You hear the strings... I don't know how else to put it. It's like you hear the pick on the strings very clearly. You hear the metallic sound of the strings as they vibrate. The Tex-Mex have that in the lower frets, they have a little more bass to them and not as high of highs. But you aren't overpowered by the electronic-ness of them the way you can be with some humbuckers (and maybe the noiseless pickups too?). They are definitely not muddy. But nowhere near as bright as 50's style pickups.

    Hope that helps?!?!?!
     
  15. patl

    patl Strat-O-Master

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    That's a very helpful review!

    A good friend of mine put the RW burst strat on layaway but was playing an Oly white one yesterday against it to see which one he liked better.

    One thing we're wondering is whether the Texas Specials have changed recently. They sound much fuller than the TS's on the Jimmy Vaughan strat he had a couple years ago..
     
  16. nars1l

    nars1l Strat-Talker

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    I keep coming back to this thread, staring at those beautiful pictures, and gassing for one myself.

    The thing just looks so gosh darn friendly...
     
  17. ArlenBucy

    ArlenBucy Senior Stratmaster

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    I tried out one of the RW 50's and I loved it. It felt just like was said, an old pair of jeans.
     
  18. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    I should make a note here... I forgot in my review to state that the high e string was adjusted too low. This is the second time I've heard of this on these guitars. Wonder if someone in particular likes the action REALLY low on the e string down in Mexico?

    Of course it was a very minor thing to adjust. I still haven't double-checked the intonation... I can't put her down long enough to plug into my good tuner! LOL

    My fretting fingers are sore as all get out these days from playing so much! But I ain't really complaining.
     
  19. asc67

    asc67 Senior Stratmaster

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    A little eye candy


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  20. casualofender

    casualofender Senior Stratmaster

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    Nice write-up, thanks
    I got a 50s sunburst RW Tele and like it a lot. I'm now tempted to grab a 60s RW strat, but I don't really need another Strat. I like the sunburst better than the white but, I have 2 whites and a blonde already and only one sunburst (an SRV).