Other Guitars

NGD: AV56 stratocaster

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I needed another strat like I need a hole in the head – my AV 65 is literally all the strat I might ever need. BUT I've been wanting a blonde AV 56 for a looooong time and when this one popped out close by I jumped on it.

It's a 2012 in absolutely pristine condition except for a couple little pocks – the impression is that it has seen precious little use until now. The finish is the warm blonde I love in AV56s, and the neck and body have a very nice grain. It's as beautiful as it gets for a strat. Once home I've disassembled it and verified that it's all original. It came complete with all the case candy and accessories minus the cable, the 3-way switch and the ashtray (seller is looking for them).

On to the important stuff: it plays wonderfully and sounds wonderfully. Great sounds on all three pickups, great string-to-string balance, great note evenness across the whole board, excellent intonation. The neck is a little slimmer than spec (.82" at 1st, .98" at 12th) which bothered me a little initially, but no more: it's a lovely soft V neck and still a good handful. A great instrument. It oozes class.

There is only one concern, and time will tell if it comes to be a real problem: the truss rod is maxed out or stuck in the direction of tightening. I've not forced it, and it may just be a matter of lubrication. Be that as it may, the neck relief is just perfect with the .11s I use so I'll leave good enough alone for now and worry later if needed.

I've A/Bd it with my 65, which as said I love and regard as a lifetime keeper. I found them very close in everything but looks: -- the neck shapes are noticeably different (soft V vs a well-shouldered C), but the width and overall feeling are quite close. Contrary to expectations, the 56 feels a little more slender and the 65 feels a tad beefier. Pretty sure that with 56 bang on spec it would be the contrary, but I'm very happy with what I've got. -- sound: I had the two strats plugged into identical inputs of the same amp – a '46 Zephyr – with identical cables. For a moment I thought that the 56 sounded more "alive" and more present in the highs. Then I realized that I was hearing old strings on the 65 vs spanking new strings on the 56. Doing a "scientific" A/B would involve going at greater lengths than I want to: new strings for both, same pickup heights to a tee…. My impression is that given equally fresh strings, they'd sound virtually indistinguishable. I may detect nuances later – but these will be nuances. -- weight is about the same.

All in all -- Since my 65 is a lifetime keeper, the inescapable conclusion is that – for me at least – this particular 56 is a great strat!! -- Given how close they sound and feel – much closer, say, than my 52 and 64 teles – I could happily live with just one of the two.

But I'm happier with both. I like having a "50s" and a "60s" strat just for the different looks and wood grain under the fingers. Deeper down, the two strats may be very close in performance but they inspire different things. To me, the 65 is a "meaner" strat, perfect for SRV-ing, Hendrixing, and more generally just plain rockin'. The 56 has a different, classier vibe and I find myself playing a more refined blues or swing on it.

It goes against what I thought I'd find in a '56 – an even grittier strat with a bigger neck – but as said, I'm really happy like this.

Here a couple pics:

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(PS: can anyone remind me how to post pics so they show in the post and not as links? Thx!)

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To post a pic from your machine, click on the camera icon and follow the prompts. One pic per post.

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Nice Strat, radiofm74! Congrats on the new guitar! I am particularly fond of a good Strat, I have a 2017 American Elite in three color sunburst, maple fretboard, and a Tim Shaw Humbucker in the bridge position. I love those spanky, plucky sounds that are characteristic of a good Stratocaster. They definitely have their place in my library of tones. I only have one Strat, it's a good one, and I'll never let it go.

Now you have two, and I'm happy for you! Nothing beats a good Strat when one is needed, nothing else will do IMO. The amount of emotion that can be expressed, with the low output pickups, is huge. It's something I didn't understand forty years ago, and I let a really good one go in favor of a Les Paul. It took me a long time to realize that the lower output was where it was at, for the guitarist I eventually became. I think it's why I like Filter'Tron pickups so much too, they're lower output than a Gibson PAF or Burstbucker, and therefore have a better dynamic range.

I have a Duo Jet w/HS Filter'Trons, and now I'm anxious to try a Dyna Jet, I have it on good authority (Proteus), that a Dyna Jet is the only way to go!

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Hey, that's awesome .. 2 beauties of one of the best designs & instruments ever. Aesthetics, tone, ease of play, & practicality in production all in one.

I enjoyed hearing how closely they match up. I've been thinking the same thing about the four Stratocasters I have had .. how consistent they were, despite different era's.

The one thing that jumps to the front is them all having terrific necks, & while not identical neck specs, they were certainly close .. & they all felt & played how a good Stratocaster should.

I had an 1980 California made wine red & maple neck (my first good guitar, I bought in HS), then a 1996 USA American 57 Reissue Sunburst, a 2014 60th Anniversary MIM Desert Sand, & a 2016 American Standard all rosewood neck sunburst w fat 50s. Only the 1996 57 reissue remains, but looking back, they were all real good & actually quite similar.

I could have ended up w any of them as my only Stratocaster & been happy.

And for Gretsch content... fyi.. the only reason I sold my first (wine red) Stratocaster was to buy my first Gretsch.. a vintage Jet Firebird 6131 which I bought in 1991.

Thanks for the Stratocaster inspiration. Makes me want to surf on Reverb LOL.

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Thank you for your comments!

@DaveH : can't see a camera icon on my screen but there's a folder icon and I'll try that!

@Wade H : I am a single coil fiend – strats, teles, DeArmonds… love those sounds!

@Major7th : I've had more strats than any other design of guitar and I made much the same choices as you – I ended up keeping only vintage-style designs. But I still have fond memories of my 2014 American Standard, of my 2016 Classic player 60s and even my old 1979 notwithstanding the fact that it had ALL the flaws generally attributed to late 70s strats ;D

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This thread is making me miss my old Strat, your new one is an absolute beauty.

There’s nothing quite like a nice Strat, especially for older styles of music.

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my parts Strat is specced to 1956-57 in emulation of Richard Thompson. i also love a nice 60s-spec Strat, but this one hits all the country/Garcia/Robertson spots. the real deal AV must be even nicer.

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Owned 5, still have 4. L-R: 1) Squier Bullet/Affinity mashup. Got it playing OK, but it was really more an experiment than anything else. Sits in a gig bag.

2) '84 Pre AVRI '57 RI. Lotsa mods-Big frets, compound radius, several refins, 2 replaced pickups, pull-pot on the lower tone control turns the neck pickup on so I can get all the combinations. Was my main stage guitar for 8-9 years. Plays great and still goes out once in awhile.

3) Homebuilt-Old (Schecter?) 5 piece body, Stew/Mac metal, Warmoth scalloped-fingerboard neck, DiMarzio pre-wired setup transplanted to a Fender anodized P/G. Hard on the fingers but has a lot of presence.

4) '64,stock as a stove. Nice and light, sounds simply irresistible, but the frets are worn and it's hard to play, even with .009s


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