Re: EJ strat.
I just played two last week ar Manny's in NY.(I work in the city)
I played it staight into a Mesa Lonestar and a Marshall 601- and if anything, I've been a STRATaholic for 30 years now and know a thing or 2 about 'em.
To me, the pickups are a little weak. Nitro finish is nice, but normally that's not why people buy Strats. I liked the knob configuration- got one that I basically took out the middle pickup control about 10 years ago. I really liked the neck and the jumbo frets. It's kinda like taking the new "finished" feel neck and wearing it in even more.
I thought they were also a tad heavy, but overall I believe unless your going for a Custom Shop instrument, you can't get a whole lot better than an EJ model.....