A no brainer, really.

What happened was that last weekend I spent some time learning Mami-chan’s guitar part for SCANDAL‘s 太陽スキャンダラス[1] from their current Queens Are Trumps – 切り札はクイーン record on Tristessa, my American-made Fender Strat. This was the first time that I actually sat down to properly play this guitar ever since I bought it last Christmas[2]. In my experience, strats are difficult to play unlike Gibsons. I cannot really explain it but you have to really ‘squeeze’ the tone out and when it does, it is sweet. The five-way pickup config also means the strat is one versatile guitar tone-wise, too. I have two other strats – one being Daphne, which is currently in KL and she belongs to this difficult group in my opinion. But not Tristessa. She’s, err… easy. Getting squeals from pinch harmonics was a joy. And she does sound really good when I play her through the Blackstar HT-Dual valve distortion (via a DD-3, MXR Phase 90 and GE-7) plugged into the 5-watter Orange valve combo.

After playing the same song a few hours straight, I suddenly thought of everyone’s fav, my old 1996 Squier 3-tone sunburst strat – Xingxiao. If she was a girl, she’d be in Form Four now. Hahaha. Anyway, everyone knows what a tone beast this China-made plank of wood is. Not. To be fair, I never really had put Xingxiao through the motions of a set up I put Tristessa through. I also thought this is the ideal time to do an A-B test. So, I played the same song on Xingxiao, and here’s my verdict. After 16 years.

Playability-wise, Xingxiao (it was set up last by Steve Robinson) had a very much lower action. Hence, slightly easier to play than Tristessa. However, something essential was missing. Xingxiao’s tone was soul-less. I just cannot describe it any other way. You can ‘feel’ Tristessa’s tone in your gut but not Xingxiao. The distorted Xingxiao is harsh no matter what. Clean tones? Both guitars have the glassy tones but Tristessa’s have more body. OBVIOUSLY. No matter how much you pick on the strings to get the strat ‘snap’, Xingxiao ain’t got it. Fair to say that I have finally come to my senses.

But this doesn’t mean I’m chucking Xingxiao to the attic. No way. She is my first ever strat and as you should know me by now, I don’t sell/throw my gear. She may be the butt of eveyone’s joke, she stays in the arsenal, yo.

[1]Err, enjoy:

[2]Review of Tristessa coming soon-ish. Heh.