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★★★★☆

“I decided to upgrade from a Fender Squire. I tried...”

Written on: 03/03/2011

I decided to upgrade from a Fender Squire. I tried about three Fender Stratocasters in our local shop, and found the Highway 1 just felt and sounded the best.

The look and finish is great. I have noticed that the pickguard has a nice aged off white look.The ultra thin finish is perfect, as I am not that keen on high gloss guitars. I think these guitars will age really well. The reverse coil pickups, I think do sound thicker in sound, this maybe causes the bottom end to be a little too thick in sound, but the dynamics of the coils and tone knobs allows adjusting the tone to whatever style suits your playing, and the thick bottom end can be adjusted out.

My guitar has the maple fingerboard, which took some getting used to. Compared to my old Squire the frets felt huge and the fingerboard just felt too big!! However it was really just a matter of my hand getting used to the feel of the fingerboard, and I now find it fine.

Negative things. The guitar came very poorly set up. Fret buzz everywhere and action too low. I gave it back to the shop, who sent it to their guitar repairer. A total waste of time as it was only slightly better when I got it back.They blamed most of it on the fact that I liked it tuned to Eb??

I then took it to another guitar shop, who recommended thicker gauge strings,that and another setup, and the guitar is now awesome (even in Eb!!). I like quite a high action and love thick strings for that blues sound, and the guitar does not disappoint.

Overall if you are looking for a US built strat,give the Highway 1 a go. I have to say the price is a big plus but I would have spent the extra money on the standard US strat had it sounded better but it didn't. I guess the moral of the story is always try as many guitars as you can, and never buy a guitar without trying it first. Every guitar is unique,why risk spending all your hard earned cash on an online purhase when you can try guitars in a shop and find the one that suits you??

The tonal improvement over my old Squire is huge, and I always thought my Squire sounded great!! The only one thing I would say to Fender is,include a hardcase as standard (UK), and teach people in the factory how to set guitars up to be at least playable. It's such a shame, as Fender strats are beautifully made, and set up right,would be a joy to own from the moment you get one home,rather than after weeks of adjustment. I've owned several guitars but for me the Fender strat offers the most qualities I like from an electric guitar, plus the list of great blues players that have all made the strat their number one choice of

instrument, makes it the guitar of my choice. I play my Highway 1 through a VOX Valvetronix 100.Hope this helps.