Pick of the Month - May 2002
1993 Fender Japan fun-size Stratocaster

Not content with having miniaturised every electronic device known to man, the Japanese eventually turned their attention to the electric guitar, and in the early 1990's their Fender plant produced a run of scaled-down Stratocasters, Telecasters and Precision basses, for sale chiefly in their domestic market.

Of the production models that found their way to the West, most were finished either in black, white or red. Most of the Stratocasters came with just two pick-ups, and a non-contoured body. The 18½" scale eliminated the need for a steel truss-rod in the neck, though they do sport a set of quality full-sized tuning machines. The pick-ups and knobs, tremolo assembly and jack plate are also full-sized, though being of Japanese origin are not of the highest quality. It would be true to say, then, that the dinky-Strat was not exactly at the top of my "wants" list…

Until the day I walked into Rudy's Music Stop on 48th St. in Manhattan and saw this little beauty winking at me from behind a glass case. Three pick-ups! Contoured body! Custom colour with matching headstock! Quite what I was going to use it for I wasn't sure, but I knew I had to have it. The photograph reveals a sky-blue colour, but it is in fact Foam Green, like the Jeff Beck Signature Strat, and is a really first-class paint job. It's possibly a unique specification put together for a trade show (unless anyone out there knows otherwise). Even with the strings tuned up a step-and-a-half, it doesn't take much to throw the whole thing out of tune, particularly should you absent-mindedly wobble the trem bar! Cute it may very well be, but for playability and tone a capo on a full-size Stratocaster is the preferred method.

Despite a very reasonable retail price, these shrunken Fenders didn't really catch on, probably due to the tuning problems and feeble tonal properties. They should have marketed them in a whole range of classic Fender/DuPont colour schemes, as I'm certain plenty of players, like myself, would have been seduced! Even the great Ray Davies, in an interview in 1993, claimed to be preparing an album of songs to be written and performed on a mini-Strat, though the world is still waiting for that one…

Recording debut: Home recordings, The Cruel Sea (Remoulds)
Features on: R. Gregsy Moore: It's What You Do (It's Not What You Are)