Well, my beliefs are being challenged again about guitars' ease of playing. I once thought my strat was as good as it got, but no. Amazingly enough, a $250 LTD guitar (along with other similar models, including Ibanez's and Jackson's) played incredibly well AT GUITAR CENTER! I'm not sure how other people's experiences have been there, but let me tell you- 90% of their guitars are not set up properly! The action is out of whack, the intonation is off, sometimes strings are broken, floating tremolos having 1 inch gaps, etc. The particular model isn't too important, but I'll state that it's an MH-103 anyway.

My question is, is there anything significant about a Floyded 25.5 inch strat model guitar that makes it easier to play than a properly set up Fender Stratocaster, and if so, what? The obvious would be things like intonation, action, tremolo setup, truss rod, and bridge and nut lubrication.

NOTE: In case it needed to be said, because "ease" is fairly arbitrary, I mean minimal amount of force required to push the string down and bend it.

  • Without doing research my first guesses are scale length and neck geometry. – Todd Wilcox Jul 22 '15 at 0:03
  • The scale lengths are identical. – Luke Faez Jul 22 '15 at 11:25
  • As others have said, it's almost certainly the neck and fret geometry. The strat has quite a curved fretboard and skinny frets, modern guitars tend to have flatter fretboards and fatter frets (which helps with speed). Then there's the curve of the neck itself. You'll probably find there's not much difference between the strat neck and the LTD. Both will have fairly modern flat oval profiles. unless you have an old strat.. in which case, sell it and buy 5 modern superstrats :) – Richard Jul 27 '15 at 15:31

All the things you mention are important to playability - and can be adjusted. The factors that can't are the scale length (obvious), and the neck profile and fingerboard radius. Those two things are very subjective - they either get liked by the player, or not. Often because they are similar to a favourite instrument. String spacing and indeed strings come into the equation, too. I think my guitars with .008s are wonderful to play, a friend who prefers .011s thinks they're awful. I don't like playing his guitars, funnily enough. As said earlier, action is adjustable, and is a personal choice. As is the vibrato set up. Intonation is absolute, so it's going to be impossible for a shop to have guitars that are ideal for everyone. Maybe that's why there are so many different sorts...

  • I didn't think about the radius. Maybe that's it? I don't see how that impacts the playing so much though. I'll have to get the radius of that LTD guitar to be sure :P – Luke Faez Jul 22 '15 at 11:25
  • The LTD guitar has a 350mm radius while the strat has a much lower 185mm radius. :( – Luke Faez Jul 22 '15 at 11:32

Since we are living in the age of affordable high-precision CNC, it is reasonably easy to produce a highly playable guitar. What precision milling is not going to buy you is high quality wood and working carefully with the grain and sensitivities of the material.

In five years, your Strat is likely to be just as playable as it is now, given reasonable treatment. The cheap guitars, not so much.

Wood warps over time. This affects the tolerances you work with, and the materials. Working with small tolerances results in higher playability, and in higher susceptibility to problems due to warping. High turnaround products choose different compromises that allow them to be surprisingly nice at sale time, given a short shelf live.

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