What Makes A Super Strat So Super?


People love to talk about the gear that "Pro" players use... like that somehow makes all the difference. If you grew up in or, at least, played guitars in the 80’s you should remember that just about every dude with big hair on MTV had a crazy contraption known as a “Super Strat”. Back then they were so common place that when guys like Jake E. Lee played an SG in that Ozzy video you took notice. Just about everyone made a version and there are some that speculate the guitar building giants Fender and Gibson were on the verge of bankruptcy because of it. Trends come and go and the Super Strat has had its day in the sun. You can still find samples in 2018 but they are certainly not as ubiquitous as they were 30 plus years ago. The other day I got into a bit of a semantic discussion/argument about the defining characteristics of the Super Strat. Since this is my blog, and I can write whatever I want, I’m going to tell you what I think makes a Strat a Super Strat. (You can write your own blog and do your own definition if you’re so smart.) Every Super Strat must have; 1. A passing similarity to a Stratocaster shape body, duh. 2. A locking tremolo, specifically a Floyd Rose, but we can begrudgingly include Kahler, Etc. 3. A bridge position humbucking pickup

Of course, there are other features that can be added, and these are certainly cool but not a requirement, as far as I’m concerned. Now remember, this is my blog and because I’m who I am I’d like to also add a hint of controversy. I submit to you that the Super Strat should be a hot-rod. At the very least, the components need to be assembled in a custom environment by someone who understands what is happening and why. Large companies are always chasing the collective market share of anything gritty, cool and made by craftsmen, artists and tinkerers. There are a couple reasons you should eschew Super looking Strats made by the larger corporations. First and foremost is component quality. We often tell new guitar builders to “…buy the best possible components you can and try not to fuck them up.” All too often the bottom line gets in the way. In a race to the lowest price point the performance parts are eliminated in favor of cheaper alternatives, licensed imports or even in-stock items that look pretty close but just miss the mark. On a guitar with very few key components you really need to get them right for the guitar to operate as intended. A good rule of thumb is companies that are named after a dead guy or named after an iconic figure who no longer controls 51% of the stock are more apt to let you down when it comes to this style of instrument. The guitars are hardly super, they were just new models. Old blue jeans naturally faded and ripped will always be cooler than the store-bought version that looks similar. Y’all know what I’m talking about. You aren’t building anything super when you are building to a price point and attempting to come close to something slick. I don't know if you have to be a "Pro" to appreciate this kind of thing but real players recognize the real thing.