Fender Highway One Strat Evolution / History

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by magilla, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. magilla

    magilla Chasing those soulful sounds. Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey everyone. I searched but couldn't find the information I was looking for.

    I know Highway One Strats have changed over time (the most obvious difference seems to be the change in headstock from traditional to 70s style). Were other changes made (fretwire, finish, pickups, neck profile, fingerboard radius, etc) over the course of the instruments existence? Just curious. Very curious.

    Thanks, folks.
     
  2. magilla

    magilla Chasing those soulful sounds. Silver Supporting Member

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    Any Fender professors in the house?
     
  3. overunderdrive

    overunderdrive Senior Member

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    I'm a Highway One fan from the beginning, and AFAIK, there's been one major change and a few minor changes.

    The big change was in '06 I believe, when they changed to the '70s headstock on the Strat, and the '70s logo on both the Strat and Tele. They changed to jumbo frets and hotter pickups as well.

    As I recall, the minor changes were string trees after the first year ('02 I think) and changes in color options. There was also a H-S-S model in there after the headstock change as well.

    The thing I love about these guitars is that they are excellent blank canvases for upgrading, b/c you can find them used for under $400.

    I would rather have a Highway One with Callaham hardware and upgraded electronics than an American Standard any day.
     
  4. McStrats

    McStrats Member

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    The original Highway One guitars were closer to vintage spec than the revamped ones starting in 2006.
     
  5. Badfrog

    Badfrog Member

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    The changes mentioned are what I recall as well. Excellent guitars. I just got a 2007 in Daphne Blue off Ebay and absolutely love it. I also have an American Standard Strat (2011) and I really couldn't tell you which one is better. They are both excellent guitars but we sure do know which one was cheaper.
     
  6. tapeworm

    tapeworm Supporting Member

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    The greasebucket came into play at some point, i dont think the originals had that circuit in them. I think that started with the change to the 70's headstock......?
     
  7. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    There's also some change to the bridge. It gets confusing on which bridge size goes to which.
     
  8. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    Yep, since 2006 the bridge has a 2-7/32" mounting screw spacing and 2-1/8" string spacing; pre-2006 it was 2-7/32" for both.
     
  9. overunderdrive

    overunderdrive Senior Member

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    btw, I had a mint '08 Am Std ash tele and an '04 HW1 tele fall into my lap at the same time, and I kept the HW1.

    the Am Std was a nice guitar, but the HW1 had more of a tele vibe...more twang, etc.

    might have been the bridge, but the Am Std felt like a hybrid--not really like what I expect a tele to sound like.
     
  10. magilla

    magilla Chasing those soulful sounds. Silver Supporting Member

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    Awesome, thanks for the responses.
     
  11. noisebloom

    noisebloom Member

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    I'm no expert, but I can tell you about mine, at least.

    The serial on my amber HSS Highway One is 2004, and I believe this is for the 2005 model year. To the best of my knowledge, 2005 is the first model year for large headstocks on the HSS Highway Ones. I have not seen any similar Highway Ones with serials earlier than 2004.

    I grew to dislike the gaps between the saddles, and how I could yaw the saddles from side to side. It felt kind of halfassed. It finally made sense after another Highway One owner pointed out that the bridge is a standard US size, but the saddles are narrow-spaced. I don't know why Fender chose to do that, but it made the bridge setup feel very strange. I eventually pulled the entire bridge out and replaced it with a Wilkinson, which is a big improvement all around.

    I've never cared for the Atomic humbucker, which sounds blah to me, but the singles both sound nice. The guitar also has the Greasebucket circuit, which I like. It sounds great in the middle position.

    I bought this from a local Sam Ash in 2007 for less than $400. It was a display guitar with a rivet scar around the trem plate. The neck was so sweet and the price was so surprising that I bought it without even plugging it in at the shop. Although I don't care for the color (I wanted the chocolate brown or Daphne Blue), the feel of the neck and the satin finish of the body are what I love most about this guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. noisebloom

    noisebloom Member

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    BTW, I've inadvertently gotten into a couple of minor debates with people over when the large headstock came into the line, and I discovered -- to the best of my knowledge -- that the large headstock appeared at different times on the SSS and HSS models. It may have been incorporated earlier on the HSS models.

    I know mine has a 2004 serial, and that's the earliest year I've seen in HSS with the large headstock. I've seen at least two other similar Highway Ones with 2004 serials and amber finishes, so I know mine's not alone. :)
     
  13. JimmyB

    JimmyB Silver Supporting Member

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    Does yours have the 'upgrade' large headstock (usually associated with the post-'05 upgrades) but without jumbo frets? I ask as I have an HSS Hwy 1 with an '05 s/n: large headstock... but I'm pretty sure it uses what-Fender-still-calls medium jumbo rather than true jumbo... thank goodness! :D
     
  14. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Yeah; the actually switch date is May/June 2005, about in time for Summer NAMM.

    I think the older bridges were just like those in the MIM Classic 50s and 60s; the later one uses the PW36 block, I do recall that.

    Make sure you specify which one when you get the Callaham. Although actually, then would be a great time to switch if you're wanting a wider string array/or conversely if the strings are playing off the ends of the frets.

    Many of the colors changed. And, it is said, the source for the lacquer was changed and the new stuff seems more durable. It buffs up better into a soft fuzzy gloss.
     
  15. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    There are "Mules". I have an '05 Highway Tele that is half and half.

    But they never were Medium Jumbos. I think (using Dunlop parlance) we're going from 6100s to 6000s here, more or less. The Standards and Series guitars used medium jumbo and the Highways (IMO) were always bigger than that from the start. if I'm wrong please someone demonstrate it to me.
     
  16. John C

    John C Supporting Member

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    Now is when I wish I hadn't gotten into the "clean out" mode and tossed all my old Fender Frontline catalogs.

    Fender evidently expanded the Highway 1 lineup in 2004 or so with an HSS Strat that did have the large headstock and 70s style decal. It was just an additional model in the lineup that had a different look. These still had the smaller fretwire as used on their SSS cousins that still had the small headstock. (I believe this was when they also put out a second Highway 1 Tele that had Texas Special pickups and possibly a 21-fret neck - but my memory is pretty hazy on that one). My best guess is that noisebloom's is this 2004/2005 HSS model from before the update.

    When they did the model update they began to use the large headstock on both Highway 1 Strat models (along with the larger frets and bigger trem block).
     
  17. cratz2

    cratz2 Member

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    Yeah, I don't have any experience with the older Highway One bodies other than playing them in stores, but my 2006+ Daphne body was starting to polish in the wear areas. I used 3M Rubbing Compound and in about 5 minutes, glossed the entire body. Not quite as good as a factory/pro job, but about 95% as good. And I did it by hand. I definitely prefer it glossy. I can see the grain more easily now.

    Yeah, I have a Wilkinson on mine as well. I bought it used, but the previous owner installed the Wilky. I have the same trem on my #1 strat so it was pretty easy to get used to.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Fitzer

    Fitzer Member

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    The early small headstock versions will fetch some huge bucks later on, just wait. Those are awesome Strats.
     
  19. FredZepp

    FredZepp Member

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    Mine is an '02 HWY1.. Trans Green..

    It has Texas Specials in it and is a very fine strat.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  20. jrm

    jrm Member

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    My wife got me one as a wedding present when we got engaged. I think it's an 07... I'd have to look up the number. Big headstock (which I like), sunburst, satin finish, hot pickups. I love it. GREAT guitar. I recommend them to lots of people looking to dive into the Fender world.

    [​IMG]
    Fender Stratocaster by jrmelot, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Fender Strat by jrmelot, on Flickr
     

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