Fender Splato Stratocaster Guitar – An Indepth Review

Continuing with its tradition of purposeful innovation, Fender has come out with the Splato Stratocaster. On the face of it, the Splato Stratocaster is an ugly sibling of other Stratocaster versions. However, looks are not compulsive factors for players to choose a guitar. A guitar player is concerned about performance, durability, versatility, etc. For them the following piece of information is significant.

This guitar had been conceived for taking part in the “Design your dream guitar” Guitar World contest. It has been designed by Jimmy Stout and built by Scott Buehl of Fender.

The Fender Splato Stratocaster guitar is not just a tongue-twister; it also had a very eventful origin. As per Scott Buehl of Fender, Jimmy Stout had given him just a cartoon of the instrument and some colored juices in a plastic envelope. For Buehl, it took 18 months of design and testing in Fender’s Custom Shop in Corona, Calif, to come up with this unbelievable instrument. In fact, it took a long time to develop the fluid chambers, the fluid, and the body long before Buehl even started building it.

This is a radically customized Stratocaster guitar which took part in Guitar World magazine’s 2004 “Design Your Dream Guitar” contest. This astounding work of acoustic art boasts of an aluminum body and Lexan chambers containing colored fluids. The fluid is a cocktail of paraffin oil, distilled water, hydrophobic dye, a biocide, and plain-old grocery store food coloring. The extraordinary concoction of the cocktail, the inherent strength and characteristics of aluminum and some more specific features have made sure that sound flows like the enticing shades of lava lamps even if the player strums it like mad.

Indeed, the guitar looks like a colored version of ESP WaveCaster which is owned by Kirk Hammett. The Fender Splato Stratocaster has a maple neck and ebony fingerboard, the perfect recipe for a dream guitar. Maple necks are popular in Fender’s guitars. But the combination of a maple neck, ebony fingerboard, and chrome-plated aluminum headstock can produce exotic sound. Along with these, it has one Seymour Duncan pearly gates bridge humbucker pickup and 2 Fender noiseless Stratocaster single-coil pickups.

Then there is the swirling colored fluids that offer one of the most distinctive features of this instrument. This is a concoction of hydrophobic dye, paraffin oil and distilled water along with plain vanilla grocery food coloring for coloring and a biocide to avoid impurities.

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A Unique Cocktail:

In fact, it is the cocktail liquid that imparts a unique charm to the instrument while playing. It took a long time for Buehl to come up with a particular cocktail, according to his own admission. The fluid chambers of the Fender Splato Stratocaster are made of Lexan, a polycarbonate thermoplastic resin with an astounding impact strength and flexibility. While the exterior of the guitar is made by beating a sheet of 5052 aluminum alloy, the strutted interior is made using aircraft-grade structural aluminum.

Fingerboard And Neck:

The maple neck is glued to an ebony fingerboard with stainless steel inlays. The top of the instrument is made of chrome-plated 5052 aluminum. There are a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates bridge pickup and two Fender Noiseless Stratocaster pickups having modified lipstick covers.

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The Wood Plays A Significant Role:

The wood of the neck and fingerboard play a very significant role in the production of sound. While a maple wood neck can help in producing bright and touchy tones, the ebony fingerboard helps in holding on to and sustaining the sound. So, one can get precise and articulate notes with a good bite. The other quality of ebony fretboard is that players don’t have that “sticky” feeling while playing on such a fingerboard.
So, players can have a smooth experience in playing it. It is also naturally hard and can last for several years even if one uses it every day. There is no need to redress or replacing it completely at least for several years.

How Pickups Make A Difference To Sound Quality:

Guitars come with a variety of pickups. An electric guitar may have single-coil pickups or a humbucker pickup. Depending on the type of pickup used, the guitar can have different tonal qualities. There are distinctive tonal characteristics of both types of pickups.

While single-coil pickups produce crisp, clear, piercing and sharp notes, the Humbucker pickup produces a somewhat thicker, rounder and warmer note. In fact, designers use Humbuckers when the need is to emphasize and sustain the sound produced by the fingerboard which one needs to have for a thicker sound. However, Single-coils are known for better bite compared to humbuckers. Single-coils can also give rise to glassy and chiming tones fit for classic pop guitars.

Humbuckers are popular with heavy rock, jazz, and metal players as well as those playing overdriven tube sounds. On the other hand, single-coil pickups are good for guitarists trying to get the maximum strum.

Yet, it is hard to generalize tonal qualities produced by different types of pickups. In fact, new single-coil pickups compete well with Humbuckers in sound quality. Humbuckers with magnetic metal alloys and ceramic are capable of delivering intense sonic genres as required by thrash metal guitar players.

Most Stratocasters come with single-coil pickups, either single or in pairs. The Fender Splato Stratocaster is a new genre in that it uses a mixture of two single-coil pickups and a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Bridge.

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What Is Special About Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Bridge:

The sound emitted from the Pearly Gates Bridge, a proprietary bridge, effuses the charm of the original bridge from Billy Gibbons’ 1959 Les Paul. It offers an extra output over ordinary Humbucker gates. The pickup consists of an Alnico 2 bar magnet, which produces a mild but warm sound; 4-conductor lead wires which offer multiple wiring options; and nickel silver bottom plate which offers more inductance and therefore more output compared to brass plates. It also contains a vacuum wax pot for offering a squeal-free performance.
The arrangement contains the high-end frequencies while emphasizing the midrange. Such a pickup also responds well to Pinch harmonics. It can impart a growl to the sound emitted by a Stratocaster with single-coil pickups.

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The Humbucker And Single Coil Pickup Combo:

Fender has implemented a combination of Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Bridge Humbucker and two single-coil pickups to come up with a new genre of tonality in the Splato Stratocaster.

However, guitars using a combination of humbucker pickup and single-coil pickups are not entirely new. There are some of them made by companies like Ibanez, Jackson, etc. The tonality of the instrument depends on the combination of the two different pickup schemes.

Fender has tried to perfect the combination by using two single-coil pickups and one Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Bridge humbucker. This arrangement lets the player switch between two distinctly different tones. While the single-coil is known for clean and lighter tones, humbuckers are known for thick tones with more mids and lows. By intelligently using two single-coil pickups and one humbucker, Scott Buehl of Fender has ensured that the player does not experience a huge change in volume while switching between pickups.

It also addresses the problem associated with single-coil pickups where an increase in output leads to loss of the particular tone primarily for which you might have wanted a single-coil instrument.

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