purple fish guts

Friday, March 16, 2007

My New Guitar

For a while now, I've been looking around for another guitar. Not very seriously... but seriously enough to say I've been looking.

At first, I was thinking I wanted to get a Strat.... for a few reasons.

1) They're classics. Lots of great music has been with them in a wide variety of styles.

2) It would be nice to be able to get the single-coil sounds that my guitar just wasn't designed to produce.

3) Some people love to ask you what kind of guitar you play. I've never really had a good answer for them. If I go generic and say "Ibanez" or "It's a dual humbucker guitar"... I just get more questions. If I go specific... "It's an Ibanez SA 420 X DR"... I just get blank stares and/or the classic smile/nod action. Life would be so much simpler if I could just say "Strat," get the obligatory grunt/nod, and then move on. (Yes... I know it's a dumb reason.)

Since I really didn't want to spend a lot of money, and since I'm kinda partial to the beat up Strat look, I started watching ebay to get an idea of what they typically go for. After watching for a while and realizing that even old, beat up Strats sell for more than I'm looking to spend... I started looking at some other options.

That's when I stumbled upon the Squier '51. Typically, the only good thing you ever hear about Squier's is that they're cheap. This one, though, got a nod from Guitar Player magazine, appears to have a borderline cult following, and sells for $99.99. Add the fact that it's been discontinued... and well.... I'm looking into it.

It's a somewhat strange guitar. It has the body of a Strat, a Tele neck, and the pickguard and control knobs from a 1951 Fender P-bass. It also has one Strat pickup and one humbucker that can be "split" to act like a second single-coil pickup. Some have referred to it as a "Fender Garage Sale" and I'd say that sums it up pretty well.

After a little more research, I decided to give the '51 a try. I opted for a blonde one I found in a local guitar shop.

Is it perfect? No! In fact it has some really irritating little issues. None of them are deal-breakers or anything.... but let's just say an extra 5 bucks at the Indonesian Squier factory would've gone a long way.

After playing with it for a couple of weeks, I have to say it's a keeper. It's certainly not a replacement for my Ibanez. But it totally nails some of the sounds my Ibanez just can't come up with.... like gritty blues and Tele twang. It also has a sort of quirky, pawn-shop charm to it that's just plain cool. I honestly can't say it's a "nice" guitar.... because it's not. But for $100.... it's a great guitar.

I really enjoy playing bluesy stuff on it. It just sounds right. Sure, it's a cheap guitar... and it feels like a cheap guitar. (I mean.... it's obviously not a PRS or anything.) But you really shouldn't have to have an expensive guitar to play the blues. Should you?