The Fender Highway One Stratocaster is basically a good value Fender strat featuring super-size frets, ’70s styling and new alnico pickups. The Highway One series when it was introduced in 2000 was a cheap entry point into the USA range of instruments by Fender and featured simple, almost ‘bare bones’ strats and Telecasters. As Fender puts it “Highway One is about function over looks” and make no mistake your getting plenty of tone for your money here. This 2006 version is an overhauled version of the original that provides some interesting new features.
The pickups on this particular model are of particular interest and are basically a trio of hot single-coils, including a reverse wound and reverse polarity pickup in the middle position and the Greasebucket tone circuit which was designed in the Fender Custom Shop. The Greasebucket tone circuit provides a rounder tone all around by rolling back that piercing high-end on the bridge pickup without unduly boosting the bass response. This produces some thick dark tones that are perfect for modern rock guitar playing and the high gain settings that many guitarists will love.
The Highway One Stratocaster also features 22 jumbo frets which provide smoother playing and certainly make it easier to bend notes. It also has a vintage-style synchronized tremolo, a highly playable satin-finish modern C-shaped neck (in maple,) and a new satin nitrocellulose lacquer body finish which allows the wood to resonate better.
Perhaps the only downside is that you don’t get Fender’s incredibly versatile S1-switching system which is typically found on the more expensive strats. However something has to give at this price and overall this guitar is a great all-rounder that has a combination of quality, playability, versatility and affordability.
- Body: Alder
- Neck: Maple, Modern C Shape,(Satin Urethane Finish)
- Fingerboard: Rosewood (P/N 011-1160) or Maple (P/N 011-1162), 9.5 Radius (241 mm)
- No. of Frets: 22 Jumbo Frets
- Pickups: 3 Hot Single-Coil Strat Pickups with Alnico 3 Magnets and Reverse Wound/Reverse Polarity Middle Pickup
- Controls: Master Volume,
Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Greasebucket Tone Circuit, (Rolls Off Highs without Adding Bass)
Tone 2. (Bridge Pickup), Greasebucket Tone Circuit, (Rolls Off Highs without Adding Bass)
- Pickup Switching: 5-Position Blade:
- Bridge: Vintage Style Synchronized Tremolo
- Machine Heads: Fender Ping Standard Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines
- Hardware: Chrome
- Pickguard: 3-Ply Parchment
- Scale Length: 25.5 (648 mm)
- Width at Nut: 1.6875 (43 mm)
- Satin Nitrocellulose Lacquer Body Finish,
- Parchment Plastic Parts,
- Large 70s Style Headstock Shape,
- Large 70s Style Headstock Logo,
- Original Body Shape,
- Original Contour Body? Decal on Headstock,
- H/S/S Pickup Routing,
- Reverse Wound/Reverse Polarity Middle Pickup
Colors: (300) 3-Color Sunburst, (306) Flat Black
Price: $999 USD / £549 GBP
I own this guitar personally and I love the feel of the neck and the overall sound of the guitar (it nails that SRV/Kenny Wayne Shepherd blues sound). Although it isn’t the most versatile guitar in the world (it lacks the punch for playing modern rock and metal) you’d be hard pressed to find a better strat for the price. Having said that a simple pickup upgrade (hotrails or similar single coil humbucker in the bridge) could easily turn this strat into a great rock guitar. Highly recommended!