Wonderful results happen when The Music Zoo creates a customized, exclusive series of guitars. You’ll realize this when you play our brand new Hardtop Stratocasters that we designed and built with the Fender Custom Shop.
It’s called the Hardtop for a reason; each of these guitars is made rear-loaded without a pickguard, with easy access via a plate on the guitar’s back. The grain of the two-piece ash body looks fantastic under the nitrocellulose finish. And, as you’ll see, we went for a less-is-more, minimalist, uncluttered aesthetic with these guitars. They’re available with one or two Bare Knuckle Mule humbucker pickups and the wiring is kept simple: just volume and tone controls on the one-pickup models and two volumes and a tone control, plus a heavy-duty three-way toggle switch. In the switch’s middle position, you can blend the output of each pickup using their independent volume controls.
Sonically, the Hardtop offers the kind of wide open tonal character that is rife with complex overtones and dynamic response. Musical information seems to pour out effortlessly and just like any guitar built using tap-tested tonewood—the kind that seems to ring like a bell before it’s even made into a guitar—the Hardtop has the kind of acoustic voice that is exceptional in every way. Strike a chord while unplugged, and you’ll feel the Hardtop shake and shimmer against your body and throughout your left arm. The guitar’s body is very light—a contributing factor toward its rich tone—while the one-piece maple neck has a gentle, rounded “V” profile that fits perfectly in your hand. A dark rosewood fretboard has a 9.5-inch radius and comes fitted with 6105 frets.
Is it a case of form following function? With regard to the one-pickup Hardtops, the answer is yes. Many guitarists love the one-pickup look and the message it seems to convey: “I just need one pickup by the bridge and a volume control to play mind-numbingly brilliant guitar,” as evidenced by the brilliance of Edward Van Halen. But there’s a function that underlies the form; using one pickup rather than two or three allows for less magnetic interference between the electronic components and less string-pull that would result from additional pickups. Which isn’t to say that the two-pickup Hardtop and the tonal versatility it offers is more or less preferable than the one-pickup version. It’s a subjective choice for the musician that will use and enjoy this guitar. While on the topic of pickups, the Bare Knuckle Mules seem perfect for the Hardtop; they use Alnico IV magnets and other components that are identical to a vintage PAF. Response is quick in the bass and mids, while lower output offers great clarity and top-end shimmer that perfectly captures the nuances and harmonics present in the guitar’s acoustic voice.
Other details particular to the Hardtop Stratocaster include a dark-tint nitro finish on the neck, a very cool and basic Nocaster Fender headstock decal, and a custom tremolo bridge with vintage saddles. When it comes down to basics, the Hardtop Strat is the perfect combination of simplicity and complexity intertwined. It’s a Music Zoo exclusive, designed and built for players who can tell the difference between good and great…a guitar for the guitarists! These guitars are available right here on our site! Feel free to check out our entire stock of exclusive Fender Custom Shop guitars as well!
Have a look at the set of photos below showcasing two of these Fender Custom Shop beauties!