Three Christmases ago[1], I bought my first ever American Fender Stratocaster. I admit that this purchase was somewhat influenced by a then recent Smashing Pumpkins show I attended, but hey, I’ve based my decisions on buying a guitar on worse things.

Nevertheless, I had put some thought on what I’d wanted on a Strat if I were to get just the one American Strat. I then noted the Billy Corgan signature one [2] which was pretty nice in a sense that it:

1. had a 70’s/CBS-styled large headstock
2. it was in Olympic white (all my other guitars were of dark colours)[3]
3. it had three DiMarzio humbucking Strat-styled pickups (heavy-sounding but still alooks like a Strat traditionally)
4. the fixed bridge (as I play mainly rhythm guitar, I wasn’t too bothered about a floating trem)

Billy Corgan had emphasised that the guitar was designed to make it versatile without making a player sound like the artiste endorsing the model. Not that I was good enough a player to make a difference but the promise of versatility is commensurate with my “if I can only buy one Strat” conundrum. The price was sub-GBP1k and it comes with a tweed case. No store in Sheffield had it and I knew getting it online would mean I cannot test the claim of the guitar’s versatility, but it didn’t take long for me to get on the ‘net and make a purchase. Sounds simple, right?


I went through three stores to finally get one. They weren’t sold out but I had problems with these stores to telling me that they were actually out despite the in stock label online, and a few other reasons I don’t really care to remember. It arrived anyway, 3 days before Christmas – not that I wanted for Christmas as such[4] but it was nice to have my guitar to play with during the short break from work. I had to pick it up from the courier’s depot and unpacked it as soon as I got home. I was well chuffed. As I was still in a Pumpkins-y mood, the Strat was named Tristessa.

Versatile? Obviously the pickups meant that the chime-y bell-like clean tones of a vintage Strat won’t be there[5], but the clean tones are Strat-y nonetheless. As the pups are humbuckers[6], the overdriven and high gain sounds were right on the money when I plugged it into the AD-5. The sustain (eat your heart out, Nigel) is pretty sound, thanks to the heavier than usual alder selected for this design and the hardtail bridge. The maple neck is a joy to play, thanks to the jumbo frets.

For an added personal touch to the guitar, I initially added a decal of an anime character named Kuro Usagi which I bought on eBay.

However, last Christmas, I got bored of the original black pickguard and changed it to parchment. And as a tribute to *ahem* MAMIちゃん’s first white Strat, this Strat was renamed しろいマミカスタ「Shiroimamikasuta」 or ‘White MAMIcaster’. Here she is in her final incarnation:

No, the white pickguard nor her new name hadn’t altered her tone.

[1]Procrastinator-san desu, watashi.
[2]Now discontinued.
[3]Yingvayyy, bro! Yingvayyy!!!
[4]Abang bukan apa.
[5]Like I know what a vintage Strat sounds lik… nemind.
[6]Two of these DiMarzio pups were specifically designed for this Strat, whilst the middle pup is a bog standard Chopper.