The name '70s Stratocaster Deluxe' might suggest something comparatively straightforward, but this new model puts the Pawn Shop approach to effective use - it's a novel blend of bits borrowed from a variety of well-known Fenders.
The bolt-on maple neck of course suggests a Stratocaster from the stated era, since it is topped by the appropriately enlarged headstock and a model logo to match. The accompanying components are equally period-correct: 'F'-stamped tuners, twin string guides and a 'bullet'-type truss rod adjuster.
Nicely installed medium frets number 22, thanks to a small extension to the gently radius'd maple fingerboard. It's gloss finished, like the rest of the neck, and although the nut slots are consistently well cut depth-wise, uneven spacing means the strings are slightly misaligned.
"The neck's profile and proportions offer an instantly familiar, easy grip"
Still, the neck's profile and proportions offer an instantly familiar, easy grip, plus a more precise feel than many actual 70s Strats can muster. Unlike the other era-related hardware, a standard four-screw plate keeps the neck firmly secured.
The smoothly contoured body is equally all Strat, and clad in an impressively consistent black, it contrasts the white pearl scratchplate that comes straight from the original Thinline Telecaster. The '70s Stratocaster Deluxe's neck-placed single coil looks like that used on the latter, while its bridge-placed Enforcer resembles the split-polepiece humbucker seen on the 70s version of the same Tele variant.
Controls, too, are Thinline-derived, but in keeping with the Pawn Shop spirit, their layout is reversed, with the pickup selector sited below the volume and tone pots - although all three are positioned a little too close together for comfort.
A modern, generic Fender bridge, featuring vintage-style bent-steel saddles mounted on a small-size baseplate, with through-body stringing, completes the component count.
"The neck single coil packs a reasonable poke, and it also offers a nice bluesy tonality"
The '70s Stratocaster Deluxe possesses reasonable acoustic resonance, while the unusual pickup combination holds great promise. The neck single coil packs a reasonable poke, and it also offers a nice bluesy tonality.
Meanwhile, the Enforcer humbucker doesn't disappoint, either, because although output is beefy, its response is well balanced, and a tightly focused delivery adds an almost vintage character.
However, selecting both pickups creates a distinctly thin, nasal and low-volume sound, indicating the pickups are out of phase with each other. We presume this isn't intended, or then again it might be! It certainly adds to the quirky set of features.
This modern Fender suits dirty work: both pickups respond well to varying levels of gain, while the usefully progressive volume and tone pots add some further flexibility.