At age 70, I thought I would splurge and get a new Stratocaster. Have a history of recording original folk rock songs, playing several guitars, keyboard, and drums. But I had no experience with something like lead blues. Found a new American Ultra HSS, and after 4 months experience I believe it plays better than the MIM versions, but YMMV. I've adjusted everything incessantly except the truss rod, and finally getting it set up for my current capability, which might be an 18-year-old Eric Clapton (amended to 15-year-old after reading Clapton Wikipedia page). Recommend replacing at least the lower two strings (B-.011 & E-.009) with at least a .010 and .013. The originals just don't produce enough sound for me. I haven't found it more difficult to bend. Usually get one good idea per 15 minutes of YouTube videos. And I avoid like the plague (or pandemic) learning riffs made popular by guitar gods. Hope to get some ideas from the forum, and might be able to offer something of value from time to time.