Eric Johnson Stratocaster Stiff Action Problem

I see complaints regarding the "stiff" action of the Eric Johnson model Strat. Is this guitar unusually difficult to play? A lot of variables come into play in determining the ease or difficult of playing a guitar. One thing that has no impact is whether or not the neck wood is flat-sawn or quarter-sawn. There is no science or physics to back up that nonsense.

After plowing through a lot of threads on the EJ Strat at guitar forums it turns out that the stiff action is reported on the maple fretboard model whereas owners of rosewood fretboard models report that their guitars play like a dream. What's the difference? The low frets on the EJ means that fingers are dragging on the sticky finish of the neck making it more difficult to bend strings. Both models feature quartersawn necks so that isn't the issue. I've owned a few guitars with maple fretboards and I've never gotten along with them very well because they felt pretty slow and sticky to me, especially when my playing technique got a little sloppy.

I discuss the nature of the EJ Strat in the following video and I encourage you to also check out our article on how to correct a guitar with stiff action. A don't miss the piece on vintage frets. One thing a lot of people forget is that EJ (like Hendrix and SRV, etc.) tuned down a half step and that his action is so low that it rattles like crazy -- so bad that most guitarists would never put up with it.