Fender Steve Lacy People Pleaser Stratocaster review

Debuting a new Chaos Burst finish and an onboard fuzz circuit, this really is a people-pleasing Strat...

Steve Lacy holds his new signature Fender "People Pleaser" Stratocaster
(Image: © Fender)

Guitar World Verdict

The Fender Steve Lacy People Pleaser Stratocaster lives up to its name by combining the classic vibe, playability and tones of a vintage Strat with upgrades like noiseless pickups and a cool built-in fuzz circuit.

Pros

  • +

    Classic Strat tones, none of the noise.

  • +

    Built-in fuzz.

  • +

    Refreshing new take on the 3-Color Sunburst.

  • +

    Playable.

  • +

    Sensible price.

Cons

  • -

    Got to remove vibrato cover to change battery.

  • -

    Would have been cooler to have the fuzz’s “tone” pot control the effect’s gain.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

With the exception of an occasional funky rhythm track, the electric guitar isn’t heard very much on songs topping the pop and R&B charts these days. Steve Lacy is trying to change that, both through his own work and as a collaborator with artists like Fousheé. 

As a result of Lacy’s growing following and influence, Fender joined forces with Lacy to develop his first signature guitar, the Fender Steve Lacy People Pleaser Stratocaster.

Of course, the Strat has already been pleasing people for nearly seven decades, but Lacy has added a few elements that promise to please a new generation of Strat players as well.

Features

The Steve Lacy People Pleaser Stratocaster is built upon the foundation of a vintage Strat, featuring an alder body and a maple 21-fret 25 ½-inch scale neck with a maple slab fretboard (no “skunk” stripe on rear), small vintage headstock and truss rod adjustment located at the butt of the neck above the 21st fret. 

The neck essentially conforms to classic specs, including a 9 ½-inch radius, narrow tall frets and deep “C” profile. The hardware follows a similar classic formula with its vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge with six bent-steel saddles, vintage-style tuning machines and aged white knobs.

Fender's new Steve Lacy signature "People Pleaser" Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)

However, modifications abound, including white pearl dot fretboard position inlays with a custom dice inlay at the 12th fret, a trio of Player Plus Noiseless Strat single-coil pickups and – perhaps most importantly of all – a built-in Steve Lacy Chaos Fuzz circuit, which is activated via an S-1 switch embedded in the second “tone” knob.

Actually, this knob is an output volume control for the fuzz circuit only, while the other two knobs provide master volume and master tone functions. The “Chaos Burst” finish looks like a traditional three-color sunburst from the front, but actually, the top’s center layer is a brilliant hot pink that’s also featured on the back in a two-tone burst.

The four-bolt neck plate and back of the headstock are also decorated with Lacy’s custom doodles and signature, respectively, and the vibrato cavity cover has a teal blue and yellow checkerboard pattern.

Fender's new Steve Lacy signature "People Pleaser" Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)

Performance

The Steve Lacy People Pleaser Stratocaster lives up to its name by providing the timeless feel and tones of a vintage Strat with a surprise twist. 

The neck provides the super comfortable and familiar playability that players expect from a good ol’ Strat, and the weight of the alder body is that “just right” balance between being neither too heavy nor too light. Similarly, the five-position pickup selector switch provides all of the familiar individual and “in between” middle pickup combo voices that Strat players love.

The Player Plus Noiseless Strat pickups also live up to their name, offering all of the distinctive tones that Strat players love and need completely free of the noise and hum that they don’t want.

The bridge pickup has percussive snap and fat midrange bite, while the second and fourth position “in between” settings have that distinctive hollow midrange that cuts right through a mix. The neck pickup is satisfyingly beefy and bouncy, ideal for funky rhythms or bluesy solos.

The built-in Steve Lacy Chaos Fuzz is the main attraction here. This circuit’s fuzz voice is more in the “Big Muff” distortion category than nasal, gritty fuzz, delivering smooth, singing solo tones and retaining excellent note-to-note clarity when playing chords.

I personally would have preferred to have the fuzz’s “tone” pot control the effect’s gain rather than its output volume as the master volume and master tone controls already provide the other essential parameters found on most fuzz pedals. Also note that the battery is accessed by removing the vibrato cavity cover on the rear, which also holds the battery in place.

Fender Steve Lacy People Pleaser Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)

Specs

  • PRICE: $1,399 / £1,299
  • TYPE: Electric guitar
  • ORIGIN: Mexico
  • FRETS: 22, Narrow Tall
  • SCALE LENGTH: 25.5"
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, 9.5" radius with White Pearl Dots and Custom Dice inlay at 12th fret
  • NECK: Maple, bolted-on Deep “C” Neck Profile
  • BODY: Alder
  • PICKUPS: Player Plus Noiseless Strat single-coils
  • CONTROLS: Volume, tone, fuzz output volume, S-1 switch for fuzz circuit, 5-way pickup selector
  • HARDWARE: Six-saddle vintage-style synchronized vibrato with bent-steel saddles
  • FINISH OPTIONS: Chaos Burst
  • CONTACT: Fender

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.