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Fender American Special Stratocaster HSS Review

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Fender American Special Stratocaster HSS Review

This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Rich Prestia

I’m a HUGE fan of the HSS formatted Stratocaster. As a guitarist in a copy band, I find it indispensable to me; to have so many tones at my disposal!

I am a confirmed “Fender Nut”!

…this guitar is well built, good looking… unfortunately I had to sink another $300.00 into pickups, tuners, and saddles…

Fender American Special Stratocaster HSS

Features:

Large 70’s headstock, C shaped neck, large frets, HSS format.

Ease of use:

How hard could it be… it’s a GUITAR!!!

Sound quality:

STOCK PICKUPS SUCK! See below.

Reliability:

Built tough…

Overall rating:

Let me preface this by saying…..aside from the Texas Special pickups… THIS IS ESSENTIALLY A HIGHWAY ONE WITH POLY COATING! Fender’s not-so-clever marketing nonsense! That’s not a bad thing… I LOVE Highway One’s!

This is not saying I don’t like these guitars, I do. I own one of the American Specials and 8 (!!!??!!) Highway One Stratocaster HSS’s.

Here’s my complaint. The pickups and the tuners totally S-U-C-K! Fender’s Atomic humbucker is weak, toneless, and ball-less!

The Texas Specials are OK, but you STILL have that inherent 60 cycle hum that has been a thorn in the side of Strat players from day ONE! Noiseless single coil pickups (there are PLENTY of really EXCELLENT ones out there) are the answer!

All is not lost. This is one well built, good looking, a toneful piece of wood. Unfortunately I had to sink another $300.00 into the guitar in pickups, tuners, and saddles to get where it is actually PLAYABLE to me; as I did with ALL of my Highway One’s!

I’ll be honest; NOW… I will proudly put ANY ONE of my guitars up against a Fender Custom Shop guitar!

By all means, buy this guitar! But if you’re like me and you want a bit MORE out of your guitar (meaning NOISELESS performance and a excellent humbucker sound), you’ll have to put a couple of dollars more into it!

Get one and ‘do it up’ YOUR way, with YOUR choice of premium pickups and such… you’ll have a GREAT guitar!!

This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Rich Prestia

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2 Comments

  • Hey there,

    Thanks for your review! Did you say you own 8 Highway One’s!!
    Ok, so I think I can count on you for what sounds good in a strat:

    I’m surprised no-one has asked you already:
    What did you swap out the pup’s for? What makes it the tone machine it now is?

    Can you really get meaty tones out of a HSS strat with upgraded pups,
    as well as a featherlite touch of Dave Gilmour?

    Many thanks,
    M

  • I’m a highway strat hss owner…I’ve played some standards. I could say I like highway more than
    those glossy standard guitar traps. Maybe the humbucker pup is not the best you can find, but
    with an adjust you could really take some nice sounds out of it.

    I’m a spanish guitarist… Sometimes people criticizes these stock pickups, but i think the problem is the way that they plays guitar. Tentamente un cordial saludo amigo.

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