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> New 09 Malmsteen Strat – Quick Analysis
Gary
post May 9 2009, 05:53 PM
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Bit of background on me. I consider myself a lower level intermediate player. Played in high school and then stopped for many years. Discovered this site about a year ago and began to pick up the guitar again. My only other axe is a 1979 American Strat that I actually purchased new when I was a teenager ohmy.gif .

I was intrigued with the Malmsteen. One reason for this is that I have a bad habit of pressing too hard on the strings. I figured the scalloped fret board would help here as if I pressed too hard this would send notes sharp. I also surmised that it would be painful to press hard on strings when there is nothing behind to stop them (this assumption turned out to be accurate). Anyway I decided to go for it and was ready to buy from AMS or GC a few months ago, then Fender came out with that ridiculous 30% recessionary price increase (???) so I said forget it. Two weeks ago I saw a brand new one listed on EBay at the old price so I grabbed it.

My first impression upon taking the guitar out of the box was shock at how light it is in comparison to my old Strat. In fact I quickly became concerned that I had received a cheap Chinese knock off or something. The bottom line here is that my old Strat is a tank compared to the Malmsteen; and yes there is a reason for this, these are two very different guitars!

Upon further inspecting the Malmsteen I found the fit and finish on the guitar to be good. I have read some complaints regarding thin paint on some of the newer Strats but there is no evidence of this on my guitar (although it’s a bit more yellow than what I expected). The neck is straight and the fit into the neck pocket is reasonably tight. I did notice however that the high E string was very close to the edge of the neck. Closer inspection showed that up near the nut the distance from the low E and edge of the neck and the high E and edge of the neck were equal. However looking at the 21st fret, the distance between the High E and the edge of the neck is less than the low E. Thus as you move down the neck, the distance from neck edge to the low E increases while the distance from neck edge to the high E decreases. This means that either the neck is not mounted straight on the guitar or the entire bridge assembly needs to be adjusted up towards the top of the guitar body (not sure this is possible, so advice accepted if you have some). I will dig into this over the weekend to determine if the appropriate adjustment can be made. Kind of a bummer that the strings are not parallel to the neck on a guitar that Fender just raised the price to over $2,000 US dry.gif .

The action on the guitar was fairly low but I will change the setup a bit. There was no fret buzzing out of the box but I changed the strings to 9's (came with 10's) and since this relaxed the tension on the tremolo unit a bit I now have some buzzing on the low E. One thing for sure, on a scalloped neck the strings feel much bigger. I have the same strings on both my Strats and on the un-scalloped neck the strings feel very small diameter, however on the scalloped neck they feel like rope. Not sure if this is just me or others have found this same issue?

One area where the Malmsteen excels in bending strings and vibrato. The feeling here is unrestricted and effortless. As far as speed I can see how this guitar could allow you play faster as very little pressure is required to sound notes. Due to my problem of pressing to hard on the strings I am maybe a bit faster on this guitar; in time though as I get used to it and work out this issue I think the speed difference will be more pronounced.

As far as the sound I really like it. Has a good deal of sustain and a nice tone on my small cheap amp. . I have yet to plug into my large amp so more to come in that area. I will say that when played unplugged it’s loud for an electric.

In the end my two guitars are very different. The Malmsteen seems a bit like a M3 Beemer, its light weight and it just feels tight and accurate. My old Strat.. well it still feels great, a bit heavy and lethargic though. I am working on getting used to the scalloped neck and adjusting my left hand pressure. Once this shakes out I will provide an update. Willing to answer any questions.

Cheers~
Gary

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This post has been edited by Gary: May 13 2009, 03:37 AM
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Bondy
post May 9 2009, 06:53 PM
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Very nice guitar wish they did a lefty biggrin.gif


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skennington
post May 9 2009, 07:07 PM
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Nice review so far man and two very nice guitars. I have considered a US strat in the past myself. smile.gif Looking forward to more feedback on it.


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Velvet Roger
post May 9 2009, 08:21 PM
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Very cool guitar indeed, nice review smile.gif

This post has been edited by Velvet Roger: May 9 2009, 08:21 PM


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Hammerhead
post May 10 2009, 08:10 AM
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Aloha,
I Just got my Malmsteen strat in the mail on Wednesday! Hot Damn... I waited for two months while Instumentpro jerked me around. Stay away from Instrumentpro! The stories I could tell! I liked your review of the guitar and would say I had the same reaction out of the box regarding how light it is! Wow is it light, but it feels great. Also the action on mine was a bit high (for me), so I had to reset the strings and the intonation and the pick ups. I was not sure what to make of it when I ordered it but it sounded like a great idea with the scalloped fret board. I love it! It plays like soft butter! So fast and smooth. I has taken me just a bit to get used to the neck but I can say that the scalloped fret board is brilliant! The ease of vibrato is unbelievable. The stock strings are heavier that what I like to play and will swap them out when these are toast. I ordered mine in Sonic Blue and I'm not crazy about the color. It's kinda blue-grey if that makes sense. But the color is minor. The craftsmanship is excellent, but I also noticed that the high E sting is very close the the edge of the fret board. Hmmm.... I'm gonna take a look at the neck and see. I give it high marks for finish and sound. I like the Dimarzio pick ups. This guitar has a nice clear bell like sound and has great harmonics. it really rings. I am impressed. I was watching the price on these guitars and noticed the price jump, and grabbed one at the $1,300 dollar price (Sonic Blue) while the Red & white(yellow) ones on the same site, had their new prices listed at $2,020. It was on the weekend and they must have been updating the system "cause by Monday ALL of the colors where at the $2,000 price!!!! I saved a nice $700.

Lets check in in a couple of months and see how it is going. So far I couldn't be happier cool.gif I did buy a 5 way switch and a push/pull pot to tweak some more tones out of the guitar. That will be a project for another day!

Robert

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sted
post May 10 2009, 11:16 AM
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oooh nice!!

For a minute I thought you had got the new play loud malmsteen strat but these look nice too, not really my taste with the scalloped board and such but cool nonetheless.
I gotta say i love your 79! If you ever consider selling it please drop me a PM!
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Ramiro Delforte
post May 11 2009, 12:17 AM
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Gary
post May 11 2009, 06:44 AM
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Aloha Robert,
I read your post regarding the problems with InstrumentPro, that's a bummer. I ordered mine from Vintage Vault Guitars and although their Ebay store has a very respectable rating I was nervous to say the least (especially after reading about your experience huh.gif ). Funny that I was actually in Kona on vacation when I placed my order.

The owner of V.V.G (Travis) was aparently on vacation at the same time as me and this also caused me to have some shipping issues that resulted in a delay of about one week. I got an email from him apologizing for the delay and he then refunded $60 on his own accord which I though was pretty cool. In the end I got mine for $1430.. can't complain. Not sure if anyone here has purchased from Vintage Vault but it appears to be a stand up place and overall I am happy with the way it all worked out.

The one thing funny about these guitars is that it's nearly impossible to find one in a store to try out. I live in California near LA and there are huge music stores all over the place.. to my surprise none of them had a Malmsteen. Basically you are forced to fly blind and just buy the thing if you're interested in it. I was a bit worried about getting the guitar and then discovering that I disliked the scalloped neck... sure glad that didn't happen.

I will post back after I get the neck issue worked out.

Cheers!

Gary

This post has been edited by Gary: May 12 2009, 06:27 AM
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Hammerhead
post May 12 2009, 07:27 AM
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Gary,
Wow on Kona... I love Kona and we lived there for two years before moving to Maui. Where did you stay when you were in Kona?

I know what you mean about trying to find this guitar to try it first. No way that was ever gonna happen here. I even thought about going to Oahu to see if they might carry one in a shop there but in the end felt like I'd just go for it. I'm glad I did! I couldn't even find pics of the sonic blue that were the same color of blue. Fender doeasn't post the color on their site. It also seemed that many of the pictures on the web gave it a different shade of blue.

I checked my neck and sure enough the neck is not set straight! The high E falls right on the edge of the fretboard at the 21st fret. good thing the neck isn't any longer. If it were 24 frets the strings might not make it! I think we should contact fender and raise a stink! I agree for this price the neck should be straight. It almost sounds like maybe ours went out in the same batch and maybe Fender let something slip? I don't know but it kinda bugs me. mad.gif Other than that I love this guitar. I will always get a scalloped fretboard on future guitars. There are companies like DC Guitars that will do custom fret jobs.

I'm thinking of what I can do about the color if it doesn't settle with me... perhaps a paint job in the future?? or maybe see if it will fade a bit in the sun?? Anyhow let me know if you feel like you want to ask Fender "what's up?' We may have more strength in numbers. I may also post it on the fender chat room and see if anybody else is having the same concern.

Aloha,
RObert ph34r.gifAttached Image

This post has been edited by Hammerhead: May 12 2009, 07:31 AM


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AlexLion
post May 12 2009, 08:10 AM
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QUOTE (Ramiro Delforte @ May 11 2009, 02:17 AM) *
Have you seen this custom model?


That was the worst guitar body condition I ever saw laugh.gif They want to sell exactly those guitars? biggrin.gif
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Fran
post May 12 2009, 09:46 AM
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Thanks for this honest review Gary, was great to read cool.gif


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Sensible Jones
post May 12 2009, 12:39 PM
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Great first review Gary!!!!
Once you've gotten used to the Guitar would you consider writing a more in-depth review that I could post in the Wiki?


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sted
post May 12 2009, 12:47 PM
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QUOTE (AlexLion @ May 12 2009, 08:10 AM) *
That was the worst guitar body condition I ever saw laugh.gif They want to sell exactly those guitars? biggrin.gif


Yep, and they want around 4k sterling for the privilege!
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Emir Hot
post May 12 2009, 12:47 PM
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Awesome review. I played Yngwie strat before and that neck is just not for my hand for some reason. The rest was very good - action, easy bending, nice vibrato etc... I have also tried Ritchie Blackmore strat which also has scaloped fretboard. That guitar felt 100 times better in my hands. I might even get one in the future. And yes, your guitar looks very cool. I hope it works good for you.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post May 12 2009, 08:45 PM
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This is a great review man, thanks for sharing this info! smile.gif


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Gary
post May 13 2009, 03:59 AM
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From Emir.... "I have also tried Ritchie Blackmore strat which also has scaloped fretboard. That guitar felt 100 times better in my hands. .."

The Blackmore Strat intrigued me as well. For starters I grew up listening to Blackmore and he is one of my favorite gutarist. The other reason is I belive the scalloping on the Blackmore Strat is graduated.. less near the nut and more near towards the bridge. From a design point of view this makes a ton of sense to me.

A bit OT.. but for those not familar with Ritchie Blackmore I highly recommend checking out his work with Deep Purple and Rainbow. Deep Purples' first big 'hit' album "Machine Head" was released in the early seventies and it still holds it own. I remember as a kid opening up the album and discovering they had printed quotes from the band members on the inside sleeve. There was one quote that said something to the effect.. "I think I can wipe the floor with most guitarist -- Ritchie Blackmore" The statement was accurate smile.gif

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Gary
post May 14 2009, 02:48 AM
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[quote name='Hammerhead' date='May 12 2009, 07:27 AM' post='379705']
Gary,
Wow on Kona... I love Kona and we lived there for two years before moving to Maui. Where did you stay when you were in Kona?


Hey Robert,
We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel. It is pricey there but very nice.. . I really enjoyed our stay. I have been to Maui a few times as well.. man you are living in heaven cool.gif !

I have decided that I am going to take the Malmsteen over to a guy that did some tune up work on my older Strat. He is very knowledgable and has a large list of well known pro clients that he provides service to. He is also a Fender authorized tech so I feel confident he can dial it in. I will ask him if this is a common problem and such as well. I probably will not make it there until next week some time. I will post back after I get his input.

Gary
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Santiago Diaz Ga...
post May 14 2009, 05:57 AM
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Nice review. I really like the sound of this guitar, with the original dimarzios. When I was younger, I was a big fan of Malmsteen, and yes, I wanted his guitar. Just found that the price of that guitar here in Argentina was 3.500 dollars made me think about it and I decided to do a replic with a luthier that I work with here. But it has some changes. I have a floyd, 5 mics instead of 3 and non-scalloped frets. The scalloped frets doesn't fits good in my hand, so I decided to do that.


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Muris Varajic
post May 14 2009, 06:34 AM
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Nice guitar Gary, congrats, hope it'll serve you well!!

About non parallel strings, I had same "problem" with some of my guitars
in the past but never took them to a guitar tech,
it was more like a visual error to me and not lack of playability.
But it does look weird and not so pleasant, must agree!
yeah, it can be either neck placed not 100% straight to body
or bridge positioned bit lower on the body.
Good thing with Strat is pickguard, you can even more bridge up just a little bit
and nothing would be spotted.
Take it to a guitar tech if it really bothers you, that shouldn't be major task.
Or just enjoy it as it is. smile.gif


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Marcus Lavendell
post May 14 2009, 08:46 AM
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Congrats Gary! That's a very very nice guitar!! smile.gif

I've got one from 1988, which is his first signature model. But it's quite different compared to this new one.


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