Originally published on dolphinmusic.co.uk Mon July 07, 2008

What's the best Fender Stratocaster ever? That's a difficult question - and a question of this type don't usually have just one answer...probably we'll hear as many different answers as there are guitarists out there, since it's a matter of personal taste.

However...if we had to pick one guitar to be chosen as "The Best Fender Stratocaster Ever", a very strong contender would have to be the Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster.

The Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster is based on a '57 Strat, which seems to have been a vintage year for strats, and actually the Fender American Vintage 57 could also be considered one of the best strats around. In fact, the maple neck strat seems to be a favourite amongst many of the greatest guitarists: just check the Fender Buddy Guy Stratocaster or Eric Clapton Stratocaster, for instance. And, of course, the '68 Stratocaster Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock had maple neck, too! Another great strat is the Fender Classic Player 50s Stratocaster.

In short, the ultimate Stratocaster will have to be a maple neck one...and the Eric Johnson model fits the bill. Most people who've played it seem to agree that it's a fantastic guitar, the best guitar they ever played, Stratocaster or otherwise. To check prices and available finishes, view the Eric Johnson Strats Here.

After over 10 years of painstaking research and design, the Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Electric Guitar has finally arrived. Designed with Eric by Custom Shop guru Michael Frank-Braun, this beauty is based on a '57, and combines the best of vintage design with modern electronics technology.

The '57-style, 2-piece alder body has an ultrathin, Custom Shop-quality nitrocellulose lacquer finish that results in better resonance. Johnson opted for a one-piece, quartersawn maple neck with a 12" radius that's finished with a thin-skinned glossy lacquer and vintage tint. 19 prototype pickups were created before Johnson found the tone he was looking for. The Custom Shop-modified single coils use a new wire material and winding technique for the magnets giving them a unique sound. Johnson and Braun also included one of Eric's most famous Strat modifications by wiring the tone controls to the neck and bridge pickups, instead of the standard neck/middle tone configuration of most Strats.

This guitar offers tonal perfection thanks to the discerning ear of one of the best players to ever pick up an axe. And it's pleasing to the eye as well, with its large arm contour, '57-style pickguard and shallow pickup cavities, plus thin headstock with vintage staggered tuners that eliminate the need for a string tree. Unbelievable Custom Shop-like quality in a production axe.

Thanks Fender, this one was well worth the wait!

  • '57-style, 2-piece alder body
  • Body cavities true to '57 specs
  • One-piece, quartersawn plain maple neck
  • Thinner, vintage-style headstock
  • 12" radius American Series-style frets
  • Staggered vintage machine heads eliminate string tree
  • Thin neck cap
  • Bone nut
  • Custom Shop-modified single-coil pickups
  • Master volume, neck tone, and bridge tone controls
  • Vintage tremolo with silver painted block
  • '57-style string recess
  • Thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish