SX SST57 Powder Blue Stop Tail

Wednesday, April 30, 2008| by Will Chen

After reviewing the SX SST Ash P90 in our premier issue, I've been wanting to take a few other SX models for a test drive. I'm not a huge fan of tremolo bridges, so when I saw the SX SST57 Stop Tail model I was very intrigued…

Upon arrival, I immediately began looking for the tell tale signs of a budget instrument. Corners had to be cut to offer a guitar for such a low price. Let's see...standard body depth, 25 1/2" scale maple on maple neck, three pickups, a five way pickup selector, two tone controls, and a master volume control. Hmmm. For the most part, this powder blue (also available in sunburst) beauty is a fine Strat tribute and features all the standard accoutrements.

The guitar is well balanced at a comfy 8.5 pounds, just as the spec sheet stated. I couldn't find any finish flaws or sloppy workmanship, with the exception of a slightly rough area where the pickguard met the end of the neck. The nice and chunky C shaped neck has a smooth feel all the way up and down the 22 jumbo frets, which are excellently crowned and dressed. There were no sharp fret ends and the setup out of the box was actually decent. Slightly lowering the action really brought the neck to life. Wow, I really didn’t expect this axe to feel so nice! My one complaint is the "vintage" tinted neck is a touch too yellow for my tastes. I would have preferred a more natural look.

The bridge really sets this guitar apart from the masses. This SX features a non-traditional fixed bridge assembly, borrowed from the classic Gibson design, rather than the string through body bridge plate often found on hard tail strats. While it’s not the highest quality bridge I’ve seen, movement was less than smooth when adjusting the intonation, it’s not a show stopper. I don't think I've seen this type of bridge on a strat style guitar before. Not only does the fixed bridge provide increased tuning stability, it allows in-tune double stop bends (vibrato bridges will go flat as you bend strings). Very cool. I experienced some slight tuner slippage which forced me to tune a little more often than I prefer.

Hesitantly, I plugged in thinking that the electronics must be where they cut corners. Boy was I surprised with the results. The vintage output pickups offered everything you would expect from a strat and the tone and volume controls are well voiced and usable across the entire sweep. Surprisingly, the bridge pickup was fairly balanced sounding and didn’t exhibit as much harshness as I expected. Position two offered that classic strat quack with the perfect amount of bite and the neck pickup was smooth and sweet. I actually found it hard to put this guitar down!

This is a frighteningly good guitar for just under $100. Minor quibbles aside; I can not find any serious flaws with this guitar. I would highly recommend the SX SST57 Powder Blue Stop Tail to anyone looking for a fixed bridge strat style guitar. Its bargain at twice the price.

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