Fender Highway One Stratocaster Review - Fender's Bargain USA Guitar

By R. S. Rasnick

The USA-made Fender Highway One Stratocaster is placed between Fender's American Standard and the Made-in-Mexico Standard series. Rather than just being a "budget" American-made guitar, the Highway One Stratocaster has a vibe all its own.

The first thing we noted upon opening the case was the beautiful (but different) flat finish. It came in black, and unquestionably has a different look than the glossy finishes we're used to seeing. Sure, it was a cost-cutting measure, but it's all the same quite nice. It's also a lighter finish, which means the guitar will "breath" better and improve the resonance.

The guitar features a large 70's style headstock with big frets, a vintage-style tremolo bridge, C-shaped maple neck (with choice of rosewood or maple fingerboard), 3 single-coil pickups with Alnico 3 magnets, and a special "Greasebucket" tone circuit. The instrument also ships with a gig-bag rather than the SKB hardshell case that comes with the Fender American series.

Although it's got some evident differences from the American Standard series, it was clear from the first chord that this is a top-notch USA-made guitar. Like we said earlier, the nitro satin finish is nice and one that some people might actually prefer over the American Standard's glossy finish.

The pickups and tone circuit contribute to its unique flavor. The "Greasebucket" tone control (you have to love that name) permits you to lower the highs without causing an increase in bass or boominess. This is a instrument that could easily cover rock, blues, and country territory.

While we realize not everyone will like the larger C-shaped neck, we admired the feel of it. It made techniques such as sweep-picking and fast runs flow much easier. The build quality, fretwork, and attention to detail was impeccable on both the neck and the maple fretboard.

If you're not a lover of big frets, you in all probability won't dig the feel, but we thought it was very comfortable and gave the Highway One Stratocaster a feeling all its own.

The Highway One Stratocaster has a street price of less than $700, which makes it pretty hard to pass up. We loved everything about it - the large frets, the C-shaped neck, the Satin finish. It's unquestionably worthy of the name "Fender" on its headstock. - 31840

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