Although not intimately associated with the Stratocaster in the same way as, say, Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Edge’s 1973 black-on-black Strat is one of the most iconic of his many guitars. One might imagine, then, that a signature model would be based on that instrument, so it is somewhat curious that Fender’s The Edge Stratocaster has little in common with it other than the large CBS-era headstock. Given that Mr. Edge is purportedly playing this new instrument personally, perhaps he prefers to focus on the present rather than the past? After all, he still has that ’73 and can play it whenever he likes.
Whatever the case, one thing is certain: This is a damn fine guitar. It has a lightweight alder body with a contoured neck heel that provides easy and comfortable access when reaching for notes high on the fretboard, and the entire instrument feels solidly built and nicely balanced on the strap. The elegant glossy black polyurethane finish works beautifully with the Mint Green pickguard, Aged White control knobs and switch tip, nickel/chrome hardware, and black dot position markers.
The guitar’s super-comfortable C-profile neck is made from a single piece of quartersawn maple and finished with satin urethane on the back and gloss urethane on the front, giving it a silky feel. The 25.5"-scale fretboard has a 9.5" radius and is fitted with 21 well-dressed medium-jumbo frets and a synthetic bone nut. There’s a modern 2-point synchronized tremolo bridge with adjustable stainless-steel block saddles and a beefy pop-in arm. I found it to be both stable and precise, allowing me to easily raise the pitch a half-step, and lower it a full step (or even two) with surprising accuracy. And, thanks also in part to the deluxe locking short-post tuners, even extreme downward manipulations rarely put the guitar out of tune.
A DiMarzio FS-1 pickup occupies the bridge slot, accompanied by two Fender Custom Stagger Fat 50s (which actually have non-staggered polepieces). I’m not sure about the sonic differences between staggered and non-staggered polepieces, but I can tell you that the tones this combination delivers are themselves staggering. All of the pickups sound big, rich, and sweet, both individually and when combined—and having the second Tone control affect both the bridge and middle pickups greatly increases the tonal flexibility (though the pot itself was in need of lubrication). It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best-sounding new Strats I’ve ever heard.
Besides looking, playing, and sounding fab, The Edge Stratocaster is tremendously enjoyable and inspiring to play, and its classy tweed case is just icing on a very sweet cake.
THE EDGE STRATOCASTER
PRICE $1,799 street
NUT WIDTH 1.685" wide, synthetic bone
NECK Maple with a C profile, 25 1/2" scale
FRETBOARD Maple, 9.5" radius
FRETS 21 medium-jumbo
TUNERS Fender deluxe short-post
BRIDGE Deluxe synchronized tremolo
PICKUPS DiMarzio FS-1, Fender Custom Stagger Fat 50s single-coils (2)
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, Tone, 5-way blade selector
FACTORY STRINGS Fender U.S.A. NPS, .009-.042
WEIGHT 7.4 lbs
KUDOS Beautiful appearance. Excellent playability. Superb tones.
CONCERNS One Tone control needed lubrication.