The last of the three SCANDAL guitars that was delivered from Tōkyō was MAMIchan’s modded 3-pickup Jazzmaster called the STRATOMASTER. For obvious reasons. If I am not mistaken, the first time we got to see MAMIchan playing the STRATOMASTER was in the プレイボーイ PV back in 2012:
Unlike the other two signature Squiers, MAMIchan’s STRATOMASTER was the first one to be unavailable during the pre-order, all thanks to the rabid MAMI fans out there. Forget about Kitty Store, as it was gone as soon as. Which left me no choice but to go on the auction route once the guitar was available for all and sundry in June of last year. I registered myself on Buyee.com, the bidding arm for TENSO, and then I saw this:
I could bid on the starting price, or just plunge in for the buy-it-now option for an extra 20,000円. The total amount was no spare change especially with it being just a Squier. But something tells me I may not find another one, and besides this was a Kitty version, ie with the SCANDAL logo on both the Fender monogrammed strap and padded gig bag. And plunged I did.
MAMIchan had this to say about the guitar:
The guitar has three pickups with a humbucker at the bridge position (the neck and middle pickups are single coil), and the tone is neither that of a Strat nor a Jazzmaster. Therefore, at the bridge position the tone has a decent low end to it. This results in a distorted tone that is somewhat perfect for those high intensity rocking tunes. When played clean, the ‘painful’ trebly tones are also suppressed!
I have a Jaguar, which I rarely play but I do know the light twanginess that comes with any Fender offset-shaped guitars. I wonder if that was what MAMIchan meant by ‘painful’. I actually wonder what difference it would make if she had a JM body with a Strat neck and pickup config – wouldn’t it sound like a Strat? Until I saw the bridge.
Before I go on, these signature Squiers aren’t exact replicas of what the girls have in their sonic arsenal. MAMIchan’s Squier JM looks like this:
MAMIchan’s actual Stratomaster boasts an Adjust-o-matic bridge unlike a regular Jazzmaster, and she uses a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails humbucking pup at the bridge position. Another difference which is pretty minor is that her headstock only has the Squier logo. Forget the (possible) fact that her Squier (and the two other girls) were actually constructed by Fender Japan, the signature Squiers for sale were… well, Squiers through and through.
This is my purchased STRATOMASTER in all her, *koff*, resplendent glory:
As advertised on Yahoo! Auctions, this was indeed the Kitty version and the monogrammed strap is like so:
Unlike MAMIchan’s actual JM, this one has her signature at the back of the headstock, and the JAZZMASTER decal complete with decorative lines on the front:
The bog standard signature Squier JM for the masses has the regular Jazzmaster bridge. To get this changed to an AoM bridge like MAMIchan’s require structural mods and not a simple swap, which is too much of a hassle. Furthermore, you need one fuck up to mess it all up. So, that’s one aspect of her guitar that I wasn’t willing to replicate. As opposed to an actual Duncan Hot Rails, this baby had a Duncan Designed version instead.
As expected with a JM, that light rattly feel on strumming was there and bothered me somewhat. If I couldn’t do a bridge swap, I’d copy another detail on MAMIchan’s JM which I didn’t mention earlier. She had placed a foam mute under the strings between the AoM and the stoptail. Fender makes them and they were easily obtainable on eBay! And the foam subdues the rattliness a tad.
Nevertheless, once it was plugged into an amp, I’ve forgotten about the rattling. One thing I noted though was that the two single coil pups were hotter than the DD Hot Rails. But I figured that MAMIchan prolly doesn’t use any other pup config on this guitar, I’d prolly be okay leaving things as it was. Here’s what she sounds like when plugged into the Marshall via a TS-9, EHX Big Muff Pi and a DD-3:
She still had her original DD Hot Rails humbuckers on this vid but her tone’s still not too shabby. However, out of the three SCANDAL Squier signature guitars, MAMIchan’s JM was actually the worst with regards to its setup. The frets were not smooth at the edges and I didn’t quite like the action. As I find the JM bridge kinda fiddly to sort out, I had it professionally set up by Steve who also smoothened the fret edges. Her playability has now improved somewhat. And of course, I also had the bridge pup changed to the actual Seymour Duncan. The two single coil pups were lowered and the SD Hot Rails raised to give a more balanced level if pups were switched. Positions 2 and 4 sounds a tad better now.
If you wanna hear what the JM with her new Seymour Duncan Hot Rails sounds like, check out this excerpt of Image I recorded direct onto GarageBand via a Fulltone OCD:
For a finishing touch, I installed Schaller security strap locks replacing the bog standard buttons on her.
I still do not think the STRATOMASTER is perfect, and I think the JM/Strat hybrid is at most a novelty and it does not provide any tonal advantage. It’s just an HSS Strat with an identity crisis, if you ask me.
Nope, I am not selling her.
The following are her specs, as provided by Fender Japan:
・Colors: Pearl White w/ Original Graphic Design
・Neck: Maple, C-Shape (Gloss Polyurethane, Vintage Tint)
・Fingerboard: Rosewood, 9.5 Radius (241 mm)
・No. of Frets: 21 Jumbo
・Pickups: 2 x Single Coil Strat Pickups w/Black PU covers(Neck & Middle) 1 x Duncan Designed HR-101 Hot Rails Pickup w/Black PU cover(Bridge)
・Controls: Volume, Tone, 5 Way Blade Switch
・Switching: 5 Way Blade Switch (Position 1. Bridge Pickup / Position 2. Bridge and Center Pickup / Position 3. Center Pickup / Position 4. Center and Neck Pickup / Position 5. Neck Pickup)
・Bridge: 6-Saddle Vintage-Style with Non-Locking Floating Vibrato
・Machine Heads: Vintage Style Tuning Machines
・Pickguard: White Pearl
・Scale Length:25.5″ (648 mm)
・Width at Nut: 1.650″(42 mm)
・Unique Features: Pearl White w/ Original Graphic Design / Matching Headstock / Autographed signature is printed on back of the headstock
・Strings: Fender® USA, NPS (.010 to .046)