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Post subject: 1997 california series strat are they a good axe
Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:58 pm
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Just picked up a used california series stratocaster 1997 model. Are they considered a good strat plays real good needs some fret work. Anybody played one sounds sweet 2 me.


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Post subject: Re: 1997 california series strat are they a good axe
Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:45 pm
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The California Series guitars were probably the first Fenders to be built partly in Baja California, MX and partly in southern California, hence the name. Supposedly the high quality and relatively low price ($475 in '97) served too syphon off sales of the higher end Fenders and the line was discontinued after a very short but successful run. Most of the links I have are dead now, but I found a reprint of a review from Vintage Guitar magazine. Not sure where I found it.

Fender California
Strat

By Riley Wilson

Have you priced ’57 or ’62 reissue Strats recently? The pride of the Fender line ran about $750 when it was introduced in 1982, but today you’d be hard-pressed to find a used one for that price.

However, you can find an assembled-in-America Strat that feels just like a ’62 reissue for less than $475. That guitar is the Fender California Strat, and it’s one excellent value.

We’ve covered various Stratocasters here, and for good reason – the Strat works. After gigging for almost 30 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Strat is probably the single most versatile electric guitar you can own. I’ve played rock, country, blues, funk, jazz and more on a Strat, and it sounds great on all styles. If you’ve never tried jazz on a Strat, use the front pickup, dial the tone knob on the guitar back to three or four, and pick lightly. You’re in for a treat!

In my opinion, the best Strats made were the early-’60s models with rosewood fretboards and three-ply pickguards. The louder volumes favored by ’60s Strat players resulted in a metal shield being installed on many guitars that helped diminish electrical interference, thus reducing noise.

The California Strat is identical to the ’62 reissue in most respects. The C-shaped neck (my personal favorite) is mated to a thick rosewood slab board for ultimate stability. The three-ply pickguard is there, as are the traditional single-coil pickups, joined to that desirable five-way switch. Little details, like Kluson-style slotted tuners and mouth-watering colors like Candy Apple Red, Lake Placid Blue, and Black, make this guitar all but impossible to differentiate from a regular ’62 reissue.

The story goes that the California series guitars were instruments that came to life stateside, were shipped to Mexico for painting, then returned to the U.S. for final assembly. In fact, unofficial word is that this guitar was so good it was taking away sales from the regular American Standard series as well as the ’57 and ’62 reissues. Whatever Fender’s rationale, the California series guitars are no longer available. Too bad, because this is an excellent Strat.

I borrowed one from a friend for a recent trio gig, where I ran it into my Digitech RP-200, then straight to the P.A. The Strat sounded great – clean and punchy, like any good Strat should. I don’t know how the pickups are different, but they seemed to have a bit more high-end than the Mexican Strat I used to play. I installed a set of Super Bullet .010s, and it sounded and played in tune all night long.

I enjoyed the rounder neck profile; when playing barre chords up the neck, a V profile can, if played long enough, cramp one’s thumb. This is critical for guitarists who keep their fret-hand thumb in the correct position – three-fourths of the way up the back of the neck behind the second finger.

Re-stringing the guitar is pure pleasure with the old-school slotted Kluson tuners; just bring the neck string through the bridge, cut it off about 1" to 11/2" past the tuner, and push the cut end into the center of the tuner slot. Bend it down, and start winding. While a bit unwieldy at first, this is part of the reason so many veterans love old Fenders. That and the tone, of course!
There are some things about any Strat that can become frustrating. It takes time and careful adjustments to make the whammy bar flexible enough to stay in tune under heavy use. The three single-coils are quite noisy by themselves, especially in high gain/high volume settings. This means many players end up using positions two and four to eliminate the hum. The trem arm on the guitar I borrowed sat higher than I was accustomed to, sometimes making it a challenge to play.

If you need a vintage Strat at a reasonable price, you should seriously consider the California Strat. I’ve long wondered why guitars like Teles, Strats, Les Pauls, and 335s are the most popular instruments for gigging guitarists. When I mentioned this to my friend recently, he provided stunning rationale: “When an instrument becomes the pinnacle of the art, it ceases to evolve.”

A perfect explanation why most of us love the classics!


________________________________________
This article originally appeared in VG’s Mar. ’03 issue.


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Post subject: Re: 1997 california series strat are they a good axe
Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:52 pm
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Found a Fender press release, too . . .

Fender Unveils Hot and Spicy California Series Guitars
July 11, 1997

Mention California and, almost immediately, images of golden sunshine, orange groves, surfing and movie stars come to mind. Thanks to Fender Musical Instruments, get ready to add "guitars" to that list as the company has just unveiled its stunning California Series: the California Strat., California FAT Strat and California FAT Tele®
"The California Series came about thanks to the joint efforts of Fender's Corona, California factory and its Baja California Norte, Ensenada, Mexico facility," noted Mike Lewis, marketing manager for Fender's electric guitar division. "The bodies and necks are shaped by Fender's craftsmen in Corona and subsequently hand-painted at our ultra-modern facility in Mexico. Final assembly, including the installation of vintage hardware and electronics, is then completed in Corona. All three instruments are marked by exceptional attention to detail, tonal quality and playability."
For starters, the California Strat boasts a classic Strat design with Tex-Mex Trio pickups that pack enough firepower and spice to humble a jalapeno. The California FAT Strat features a U.S.-made Fender humbucker paired with two single coil Tex-Mex pickups in the neck and middle positions. "They're very punchy, but not over the top," Lewis explained. The California FAT Tele houses a U.S.-made Fender Tele humbucker in the neck position matched with a Tex-Mex Tele pickup in the bridge position. "That combination allows players a variety of tones ranging from stinging, sustaining leads and cool, clean single notes to vintage Tele 'snap'," Lewis added.
Features common to each California Series instrument include an alder body, tinted maple neck equipped with medium jumbo frets, U.S. vintage hardware and electronics. All three models are also available in Black, Candy Apple Red, Brown Sunburst, Fiesta Red and Vintage White finishes. U.S. suggested retail prices, including gig bags, are: $799.99 for the California Strat, $849.99 for the California FAT Strat, and $849.99 for the California FAT Tele.


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Post subject: Re: 1997 california series strat are they a good axe
Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:40 am
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I played a few around the time and thought they were great guitars. Not the best for hardware but a very high quality neck, coupled with tried and tested trem and pickups.

I don't really buy anything I read or hear about Fender dropping a line because it takes away from other lines. If that were the case they'd only make CustomShop guitars, those being the most expensive.
I think they just want to sell guitars and that the profit margin (production cost to profit percentage) is pretty much the same whether the sale be a Squier or '62 Relic. Ok the relic costs more and therefore as one sale generates more cash. But Squier must sell 1000 to every CS guitar.

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Post subject: Re: 1997 california series strat are they a good axe
Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:08 am
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Hey thanks for the information. :)


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