Well, I've been eying these two models for a while... Was in the vicinity of a shop that has a better selection of guitars than I usually have access to and was perusing the 'stack'. Glanced at some Gretsches, nothing really caught my eye and I wandered to the Strats. A decent looking 3 tone Sunburst, with a little wavy american flag on the pickguard caught my eye. I pulled it down, nice full neck, but no other indication of model was apparent, hang tangs were missing, etc. I plugged it into a DRRI and it sounded deliciously Stratty. The neck was nice and full and felt about 9.5 radius. Frets were not too big. Vintage appointments, I liked it. As I got up to put it back on the wall (I had an appointment shortly) I asked one of the employees if he knew what model it was, He looked at it, wrapped his fingers around the neck and said, yeah, that's an American Vintage Hot Rod. We talked a few more minutes before I had to go. Even though the guitar was kinda dirty, it left me with a very good impression. Now, I've been torn for a while on these two models... both have seen my shopping cart a few times, only to be pulled and left aside for another day because I just cannot decide which model I like better, which specs are the ones I want. And, I had never heard the 'American Vintage Single Coil' pickups. I loved my CP50's 57/62 pickups immensely. Now I have heard the Hot Rod's pickups, it's an even harder decision. I love the Tex-Mex in my 60's Roadworn a lot. I love my RW a lot in fact. But, I'd like to take another step up in quality. Well, now that I know this particular store has several of each model in stock, I will go play them all and try to decide that way. However, it will be several months before I return to that vicinity. So my question is, for those who have tried both, and decided on one, or neither, what was the deciding factor(s) for you? Why do you prefer one over the other? I've got a couple of months to obsess and research... Help a brother out! All conjecture is welcome!