my Fender is a 2000, with 9 volt pre amp. I notice when I pop a string fairly hard the transient gets suppressed with perhaps some barely noticable distortion. Compared to my MTD Grendel equipped with Barts and a Bart pre-amp (which tears your ears off when slapped) its pretty tame. Come to think of it, lower notes when thumbed seem to "hit softly" as well. I have a maple fretboard with Alder body. I can't help but suspect it's the electronics. The pickups are the factory stacked humbuckers. I do have a Bartolini 3 band preamp with 3 position mid switch (18volt) I could rip out of my Grendel (which I don't really play anymore anyway) but I'm not sure how it would match up with the Fender pickups. Any of you builders/repair guys/gear heads wanna toss in your .02 ? Feel free to tell me about your expirience with Aero, EMG, Dimarzio, as well. Hit me.