“The Stratocaster first appeared in 1954, incorporating many design innovations based on feedback from professional musicians, Fender staff and Leo Fender himself.” – Fender.com
When it comes to inventiveness, the folks at Fender® seem to have a never-ending source of remarkable ideas for guitars. One of those designs is the Fender Single Run (FSR) American Standard Lipstick Strat®.
Equipped with three Seymour Duncan single coil pick-ups, the Lipstick Strat® delivers sophisticated tone while staying loyal to that famous Fender® sound. What’s more, it makes for one terrific slide guitar.
The Lipstick Strat®
Currently available as a limited-run from Fender®, the Special Edition Lipstick Strat® is made in the U.S.A. While this particular version of the Stratocaster has one foot in the past and the other in the present, that philosophy seems to be a winning and affordable formula for many electric players.
The aged pick guard and classic sixties finish on the Lipstick Strat® lend a desired vintage feel to the axe. But clearly, what makes this contemporary model so special, are the pick-ups.
According to the official Fender® website, the Lipstick Strat® sports “Seymour Duncan® SLS-1™ Lipstick Tube single-coil neck and middle pickups and a Seymour Duncan® SLS-1B Lipstick Tube single-coil bridge pickup…”
Fender® describes the trio of pickups as “bright, jangly and highly distinctive.” They are not kidding.
The three Seymour Duncans can produce a Rickenbacker-like quality not often found in other Strats.
Stats for the Strat®
Everything a picker or strummer would hope to find in a Stratocaster is all there on the Lipstick Strat®. Features include a maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, 25.5″ scale length, medium jumbo frets, dot inlay markers, chrome hardware and Fender®’s trademark tremolo bridge.
There is also no-load tone control for the middle and bridge pickups.
The Lipstick Strat® is available in Lake Placid Blue or Torino Red. Fender® previously offered a Shoreline Pink finish, though it’s no longer advertised on the company’s website.
Out for a Test Drive
We located a Lipstick Strat® in Shoreline Pink, through our local Fender® dealer. Naturally, we had to take it out for a test drive. But first, our tech set it up for slide guitar in order to take advantage of the acoustic nature of the box along with its no-load tone capability.
Right out of the factory, the synthetic bone nut provided sufficient action for chording as well as sliding, though the bent steel saddles needed to be adjusted slightly higher. We added D’Addario nickel wound Jazz Light Gauge .012 – .052 strings. The combined tension of the heavy strings plus the raised saddles produced the desired action in open D tuning.
We plugged directly into an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer, then a Boss DS-1 distortion pedal, precisely in that order. Keeping the tone settings on both pedals at or near zero with the distortion level low and the guitar volume high, 9 or 10, was key.
Everything was fed through a Fender® 15 watt Blues Jr. amplifier with the midrange and bass knobs turned to zero and the treble at about 6.5. The master control and reverb stayed at 2 and the volume around 6. Fender® Custom Shop instrument cables kept it all connected.
Using a metal finger slide, the Lipstick Strat® turned out remarkable bluesy tones which were distorted and warm. We discovered, where single-coil Strats are known to growl and roar, the Lipstick version can be tamed. For example, in open D, we effectively matched single string bass runs with treble string responses which provided impressive results. With less overdrive, the Lipstick Strat created consistently pleasant tendencies, somewhat like an acoustic-electric.
The MSRP for the Lipstick Strat® is $1,569.99 though it can be found for a lot less in brick and mortar stores and online. That is, while they last.
Whether it’s conventional picking or sliding, open or standard tuning, the Lipstick Strat® from Fender® can wail with the best of them.