MINT Fender American Series VG Stratocaster with Rosewood Fretboard 2007 – 2009 Black Made in USA

$ 1599.99

RARE model and very sought after by collectors!

Condition: MINT!!! Guitar looks almost new, Fender sticker is still on the pickguard cover. Excellent condition, minimal signs of handling. Case queen!

Serial number indicates 2007 manufacture. Rare model with rosewood neck.
Made in USA.

Included are: guitar, tremolo arm. No case, papers, or accessories.
Please check pictures for details and ask questions.

Serial number is partially masked in the photos in this listing for privacy reasons. Contact me if you would like to see unobstructed serial number.

Stratocaster with modeling functions created in collaboration with Fender and Roland.

Fender have married Roland’s VG technology with the timeless design of the Stratocaster. The result is a cutting-edge classic.

The VG Strat offers the following guitar models:

  • Normal (VG circuit bypass)
  • Virtual ash-bodied Strat (to give access to Strat sounds with Tune function)
  • Virtual Telecaster
  • Virtual 2-humbucker Strat
  • Acoustic (an assortment of five acoustics, from dreadnought to resonator)

A five-way blade switch is used for selecting sounds within each of the above modes.

Tuning options:

The various models offered by the VG Strat can all be set to the following tunings at the turn of a dial:

  • Normal — regular tuning
  • Drop D
  • Open G
  • Baritone/Low B
  • 12-string

This single guitar can be used for a variety of guitars such as telecasters, acoustic guitars, and 12-string guitars, as well as 12-string guitars and irregular tuning.
The current model is made in the USA, unlike most models you see for sale made in Mexico, so if you are looking for a product made in USA this is your rare chance!
Country of manufacture: USA

To understand the concept behind the VG Strat, you have to go back a few years to when Roland invented the concept of guitar and amp modelling and implemented it in their pioneering VG range of processors.

The VG modelling system can emulate different guitar body types, different pickup types and layouts, various amplifier and speaker combinations and, of course, all the familiar effects and stomp boxes. It can even make an electric guitar sound like an acoustic guitar or bass and emulate various miking options.

Providing there is room enough to fit Roland’s GK six-pole pickup close to the bridge, VG systems can work with pretty much any electric guitar (the pickups are available separately, so you are not restricted to using them with the Strat). It needs to be a six-pole pickup in order to process each string separately — which you need to do if you want to create accurate guitar models where, for example, the pickups might be mounted at an angle, or, more importantly, to allow the tunings of individual strings to be changed for more complex models, such as drop tunings or simulations of 12-string guitars. The pickup goes so close to the bridge because, positioned there, it can pick up a relatively predictable sound from the strings and string bending doesn’t push the string too far away from the pickup. The same GK pickup can also be used to drive Roland’s range of GR synthesizers, via the multi-pin DIN socket on the output of the GK pickup’s control box.

Roland’s latest hardware VG processor is the VG99, which is far more powerful than its predecessors and allows for a huge amount of user customisation. They are great systems, but the flip side for many traditional guitarists is that the sheer scope of such a device can be daunting.

Apparently Roland have been working behind the scenes with Fender for some 10 years now, and the partnership is begining to bear fruit, in the form of a series of Boss pedals that model specific Fender amplifiers (so far, the Deluxe and the Bassman), and the Fender VG Strat reviewed here.

The VG Strat concept is pretty straightforward — marry Roland’s cutting edge technology with a good, tried-and-tested Fender guitar. But while Roland were the first to bring guitar and amp modelling to the market, they’re not the first to put guitar modelling into a physical instrument: that accolade belongs to Line 6, with their Variax guitars.

The Fender-Roland approach is a little different from that of Line 6. Most importantly, the Variax has no conventional pickups, so all the sounds that are available are modelled from the signals picked up by the piezo sensors, set into the bridge saddles. This actually works pretty well (I have a Variax myself and I’m always surprised by how good it can sound). However, if you don’t like the look or feel of the Variax guitars, you can’t benefit from the technology unless you pay a guitar tech to cannibalise a perfectly good Variax and then fit all the parts and bridge into a heavily modified guitar of your choice.

Mounting the six-pole GK pickup so close to the bridge allows good tracking of the individual strings even with heavy bending or use of the tremolo.
With the VG Strat, all the necessary electronics are discreetly hidden inside a very nice American Standard Stratocaster, which still has its own three original single-coil pickups, as well as a Roland GK pickup. The benefit of this approach is that you can always switch back to using the guitar as a regular Strat if your batteries go flat during a gig — you’ll never be left unable to get a sound out of your guitar. You’d also probably want to use the regular Strat sound for playing straight Strat parts, because, let’s face it, no model is going to get closer than the sound of the real thing!

The other main difference between the VG Strat and the Variax is that the Variax allows you to model a whole range of familiar electric, semi-acoustic and acoustic guitars (as well as a few oddball choices such as banjo, sitar and resonator guitars) and, if you have a computer, you can load up their intuitive Variax Workshop software and build your own custom guitars (by changing bodies or pickups). With the Variax you can also set up your own choice of alternative tunings, though these are tied to individual patches rather than being accessible globally.

By comparison, the VG Strat offers less flexibility but, as we’ll see, that isn’t the idea. In addition to the ‘normal’ Strat, you get models of a slightly warmer-sounding Strat, a Telecaster, a selection of five acoustic guitars (from resonator to dreadnought, selected using the five-way pickup switch) and a humbucker guitar. There’s no obvious intention to model any specific other make or model of guitar, but the Fender variations cover most tonal bases. You select them simply by turning the rotary model-selector switch (which is neatly disguised as a small, standard Strat knob). The first position is the normal Strat, which bypasses all the electronics, then the models start off with the alternative Strat. If you think that modelling a Strat seems like a bit of a waste of time when the real thing is just a switch-click away, remember that once you switch to modelling you can use the alternate tunings or 12-string emulation, which you can’t do with the regular pickups.

A second small knob controls the rotary switch used to select the alternative tuning options. These are Normal, Drop D, Open G (for all those ‘Keef’ rhythm parts), DADGAD (for the folkies and the Gordon Giltrap fans), Baritone/Low B (for that earthy Seattle grunge vibe) and a very plausible 12-string. Any of these tunings can be selected for any of the guitar models, though they all assume your guitar is tuned normally to start with. To save the control section from getting too crowded, the normal ‘volume and two tone controls’ arrangement has been simplified to a master volume and a single master tone control. As with the Variax, the modelling is confined to guitar types — there’s no amp or effect modelling built-in, other than a little ambience reverb for the acoustic models.

Comparing the modelled Strat sound with the natural Strat sound (from the conventional pickups), the model is slightly warmer, with a bit less of the characteristic Strat ‘jangle’, so it makes a useful alternative without straying too far from the familiar Strat tonality. The Telecaster sound is coloured slightly by the resonance of the tremolo springs, but the pickup sounds are modelled very plausibly, with a smooth-sounding neck pickup and a wonderfully brash, bright bridge pickup. When you switch to the Humbucker model, the sound you get is very similar to what you’d expect from a Strat fitted with two humbuckers, with the bridge pickup sounding not dissimilar to that of an HSS Fat Strat. Because the Roland GK pickup is magnetic, the dynamic response is very much in line with what you’d expect from conventional pickups. This also sidesteps the main weakness of the Line 6 Variax, which is that heavy-handed vibrato use can result in thumps being picked up by the bridge piezo transducers. Also, if you’re into really serious vibrato abuse, piezo pickups tend to lose output when the strings go slack during dive bombing, whereas magnetic pickups such as those on the VG Strat keep on going.

Turning to the acoustic sounds, there are three rather nice sounding ‘conventional’ acoustics, ranging from small to large body, plus a very bassy option that sounds to me like a miked steel-string, with all the top turned off for the top three strings, and a warm resonator sound on the bottom three strings (I couldn’t find any details in the manual to describe what the individual acoustic models are based on so I’ve no idea what this one is supposed to be). There’s also a very sweet-sounding resonator model. However, it is important that you play the acoustic sounds through a full-range amp such as an acoustic guitar combo or PA in order to reproduce the correct tonal balance. For recording, you can, of course, simply DI the acoustic sounds, but on stage some form of footswitch to allow you to redirect the signal to a different amplifier when playing the acoustic sounds would be pretty much essential. Line 6 include a switch and a remote powering system with their Variax, which makes a lot of sense but, again, Fender wanted to keep their VG Strat as simple to use as a conventional guitar, and they’ve certainly succeeded in that. The acoustic sounds are as good as any modelled acoustic sounds I’ve heard, and in a live band context they’d be pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing. Even played solo they’re pretty impressive, and any tonal shortcomings are balanced by the lack of acoustic feedback problems. Turning up the Tone knob, as mentioned earlier, adds a little reverb, which takes away the DI’d dryness of the basic sound.

The ‘open tunings’ are achieved using pitch-shifting technology. Because of the way pitch-shifting works (by splicing and looping very short segments of audio), it rarely sounds entirely natural, but done well (as it is here) it gets close enough to fool the ear in most situations. This process always sounds smoothest on monophonic sounds, and the VG Strat benefits in this respect from the split-pickup system mentioned earlier. This also allows each string to be pitch-shifted by a different amount. In addition to the preset alternate tunings mentioned earlier, there’s the 12-string model, which follows the tuning pattern for a real 12-string instrument (in that the bottom four string pairs are tuned in octaves, while the top two are in unison). This sonic illusion works very well, as it combines the unshifted sound with the doubled parts, resulting in a very plausible 12-string sound. The open tunings also sound pretty good, though if you pick the individual notes and really listen, you can occasionally spot a few pitch-shifting artifacts — but this is true of any such system, and in normal performance you’d be hard pushed to hear the ‘trickery’. You do, however, have to play loudly enough so that you don’t also hear the acoustic sound from the guitar strings as this can really confuse you, though this situation is really only likely to arise in the studio, where you’re working at lower monitoring levels.

The sound quality of the VG Strat is as good as from any guitar modelling system I’ve heard, and there’s no denying its ease of use, but there are a few practical issues.

The battery life is something of an achilles heel: as there’s no mains PSU option, this is something you have to think about very seriously. Of course, you have the fall-back option of switching to the regular pickups, but it would be worth investing in a set of eight good-quality NiMH batteries and a charger that can deal with four at once, so that you’ll always have a spare set.

Personally, I find the lack of a DIN output to drive my GR33 guitar synth rather limiting, and I’d like to be able to set up different tunings or more sophisticated guitar models — but then I’m more typical of a VG99 customer than a VG Strat customer. For the straight-ahead guitar player who simply wants a quality US Strat but needs the tonal flexibility to cover more electric sounds and a range of acoustic sounds, the VG Strat pretty much nails it. Those open-tuning options make perfect sense for anyone who wants to use any of the standard tunings on offer, because if you play a guitar with a floating vibrato, even retuning to a drop D is impractical, as all the other strings go sharp, due to the change in tension on the vibrato springs. Being able to switch to an alternate tuning for any of the guitar sounds is also very practical in comparison with the Variax, where you have to save the tuning as part of a patch, with the sound to which it relates.

The on-board electronics of the VG Strat add, in a very organic, intuitive way, to what is already a first-class, beautiful instrument. It isn’t cheap, and it won’t meet the needs of everyone interested in guitar modelling, or those who want the ability to drive a Roland guitar synth, but those users will probably go the VG99 route anyway. The practicalities discussed above are exactly that (practicalities) and are not insurmountable by any means. Ultimately, the VG Strat does exactly what its designers intended: it brings together a great guitar and a great guitar modelling system, in a very accessible way that won’t scare off even the the most technology-shy guitarist.

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