I never could get on really good terms with Lucille. Another man’s lady, you know …
Puns aside, mostly it is the semi-acoustic guitar’s long sustain that doesn’t fit in with the way I like to play. Then there was the seemingly intractable problem of string height and fret buzz on the low notes on the E- and A-strings. Thicker strings or hiking the bridge up didn’t solve that to my satisfaction, and I don’t like that high a string action anyway. Let me find another way to do a vibrato, but let me not do it involuntarily whenever I fret a note!
My (and half of Europe’s) music store has a 30-day money back policy that I took advantage of yesterday. Of the replacement guitars I looked at and tried out, two stood out. One was a white Ibanez JEM 555 WH, the other a Fender American Standard Stratocaster HSS in 3-tone sunburst. As I sat there in the sound-proof practice room and listenend to these two on the store’s demo unit of my amp, I was sorely tempted by the JEM. Flashy, screaming high-gain tones, a surprising low end, a flat neck and good tapability meant lead guitar and reminded me of Satriani and well, Vai, of course. But the more I listened into the Strat’s more differentiated layer cake of tones, the more Steve’s signature model sounded like a one-trick pony. The Strat’s tone is more throaty and it ROCKS! For lack of a real description, I’d say it has more undertones. And that’s only the sound on the bridge position humbucker, there are 4 more settings including the one I could as well tape my Squier Strat to (bridge and middle single-coil pickup combined).
I’m glad I didn’t fall victim to the JEM’s attractions and chose the Strat. I comparison (to the JEM 555 but mostly to the chinese Squier Strat), the build exudes quality. Let me sing her praises in bullet points: