This rather, er, snappily titled Fender Blacktop Strat has the same chassis as the non-locking Blacktop Strat HH that we looked at earlier in the year. And it's not just a clever name: this new Blacktop has a floating Korean-made Floyd Rose Special locking vibrato sitting in the bridge cavity.
According to the Floyd Rose website, the Special utilises zinc alloy saddles in place of steel and a zinc alloy sustain block in place of brass. You're getting a Floyd that looks and hopefully performs like the Original, but costs less to make.
"If you associate a humbucker and Floyd-loaded Strat with Richie Sambora then you already have a good idea what this guitar sounds like."
Actually, the Floyd on our review Blacktop sticks a bit. It returns to regular tuning no problem, even after some serious dive-bombing, but nudge the arm and the pitch changes slightly and stays there. Tap the arm and it returns to normal again.
The Blacktop's Hot Alnico vintage humbuckers are hooked up to a five-way lever switch. The pickup options are: bridge humbucker; inside coils of both humbuckers; both 'buckers on full power; the neck pickup's inside coil; and the neck pickup on full.
The guitar's construction is pretty much up to the high standard you'd expect from Fender's facility in Mexico. The bolt-on maple neck's gloss urethane finish is flawlessly applied, as is the alder body's coating of titanium silver paint.
The 22 medium jumbo frets are well-dressed and seated on a 241mm radius rosewood fingerboard. Textbook.
We aren't quite so chuffed to find that the neck pocket appears to be a bit too spacious for its neck. There's a prominent lip on the treble side of the pocket. It doesn't affect playability but does look sloppy.
The Blacktop Strat offers no real surprises… in a good way. You get a great range of classic Fender single-coil and meatier humbucker tones with or without distortion.
But the Blacktop lacks a bit of tonal girth - its pickups are scratchplate-mounted, which promotes a relatively light tonal response. If you associate a humbucker and Floyd-loaded Strat with Richie Sambora, for instance, then you already have a good idea what this guitar sounds like.
The Fender Blacktop Strat HH Floyd Rose is a well-priced meat and potatoes rock machine built around a classic chassis. Our example's messy neck pocket and sticky Floyd are annoying, but they're likely a one-off. Just make sure the one you try is in better shape.
If you've got £700 to spend on a twin-humbucker, Floyd-equipped rock beast, the Blacktop's cool '80s vibe and multi-tonal options could be enough to snag that lolly burning a hole in your pocket.