Okay, earlier today I think I figured out the best way to ask this two-part question. It's long, involved, and elaborate... so here goes nothing:
1. Take an uber-experienced guitarist (maybe even someone famous like Yngwie) or a top flight guitar tech, or an elite custom guitarmaker, blindfold him and put 100% noise cancellation headphones on his head (put in custom molded earplugs just for good measure), then (without telling him what it was) put, in no particular succession order, A) a Mex-built Strat; B) an American Strat; C) an American Deluxe Strat in his hands (all of which have the Floyd Rose tremolo) and then instruct him to noodle around without the benefit of knowing, seeing or hearing (the amp's turned off and he's got those muffs on his ears) what it is that he's holding and fingering/picking.
Just going by feel, heft, hoist, string pressure, the neck, (basically everything that can be detected by tactile means) etc. etc. ... what discernable differences would our expert be able to detect?
2. Take those same three guitars (all made of alder with maple neck and rosewood fretboard), leave them as is.
Except for the Mex-Built Standard. With that, you upgrade the electronics as much as they can possibly be upgraded, and install the same exact pickups that come stock in the American Deluxe. In random succession, run them through the same amp (some top-of-the-line Hughes & Kettner or something) on the cleanest setting that it can possibly be set to, with no effects or anything whatsoever.
Then stick some top flight Grade-AAA producer/sound engineer/guitar builder/studio pro guitarist... or even Seymour frickin' Duncan himself, in the room with a blindfold on.
Let him listen to each one for a few minutes. Each guitar will be noodled on by... oh, I don't know... some anonymous studio pro who's halfway up the totem pole of studio rats (so he's entirely competent, but not to the point of being famous or having a recognizeable style that those "in the know" would recognize), who will play the same piece the same exact way three times in a row.
Or better yet, make it a double-blind study. Three different studio pros... each one is only told that he has to step into the room (he'll have his back turned to the tone/sound expert and it'll be set up so that he has no idea that anyone's standing there listening) and play whatever is handed to him (the same piece for each of the three... they're polished and professional enough to do it the same exact way, with precision). He will have no clue that the guitar in his hands is being compared to a guitar that is inferior or superior to any other guitar being tested that day, so he will play no differently.
Hell, blindfold them. If they're that pro they can do it without looking at it.
[Though it's not my area of expertise at all and I can't imagine ever finding myself doing it, I am technically qualified to design and conduct social research experiments.]
Would our expert (or even several such experts, kept in isolation from one another) be able to tell the differences, and if so, what would they be?
I'm hoping that in both cases there would either be no difference, or they would be so miniscule that only some legendary professional uber-expert with hearing like a dolphin would even be able to tell.
That's what my hope was when I bought the Standard Fat Strat... that it could be upgraded to the point that it was at least the equal of a stock American (Deluxe) or custom/signature Strat that's nearly twice as expensive or more... both in playability/feel and in tone.
Well, I'm going to go to GuitarCenter soon on a routine shopping trip... I'm going to pull an American Strat and then an American Deluxe Strat off the wall and give it a rip... and then a MexStrat like I got... all three of which will be played through the same exact amp. So I'll see for myself what the difference is.
But I just have
to wonder what these hypothetical experts in these hypothetical research experiments would have to say.
(Yes, I'm that anal. :D I'm also diagnosed with OCD, which can be a good thing in certain areas... unless you're trying to work with me. *hee hee hee SNORT* ).
Basically I'm trying to avoid shelling out the $$$ for a much more expensive guitar! :eek: But I really like the build and feel of the Strat (contours, playability, etc.) so I can say that it's not because I'm stuck on having something with name recognition (e.g. Fender Strat, Gibson Les Paul, etc.). Though I've always preferred the look of vintage guitars to the space agey metal guitars of the 80s or the weird modern thingies like the Parker Fly.