Fender Highway 1 Telecaster
I recently bought one of these and I am very impressed. I've been playing for 40 years and never really gave Tele's a second thought, can't really say why...Anyways, this rascal has jumbo frets, and a flatter radius(9 1/2) fretboard than my two vintage Strats, and that makes ALL the difference. The tight radius of vintage Fenders (7 1/4) and smallish frets felt light junk after I started playing guitars with flatter fretboards and bigger frets. The pickups sound very strong, nice balance of clean when you want it and dirty when the time comes. I was tempted to get the Strat, but like I said, I already have two. Now that I've been playing this Tele for awhile, I can see the appeal, and wish I would have gotten one years ago.
Anyways, if you're considering another guitar, and have wondered about these Highway 1 series by Fender, I'd say they are the way to go. They are easily the best value Fender offers. It took me a little while to like the flat, or satin finish, but I got the black with a maple neck, and she kinda reminds me of a 32 hotrod, you know when they would leave them in black primer and not paint them?...the only thing missing are the Moon hubcaps, flame job and lake pipes. :P
My only complaint is the string height at the first fret, too high. Maybe they do it on purpose to allow for personal taste. I wish the string slots in the nut were a little lower.
Great value, great playing, great tone, 5 stars.
Funny you should mention the Hiway One, I also tried one the other day. I tried a Strat. I'm glad you found your's to you liking, but I wasn't all that impressed with the Strat I tried. It sound ok, just ok, not as nice as my late 80 american strat which as more character of tone. Also, the parts, like the knobs on the Hiway One, their look and feel seemed a bit cheap. I wouldn't call them a piece of junk, they are decent , but I thought for the money, I could get a nice used American Strat.
Like I said I'm just speaking from my experience with the Hiway One strat that I tried. But I'll have to try a Tele when I get a chance. Best of luck with your new axe though.
I was told by a local Fender dealer that the Highway One line was simply Mexican factory parts assembled in the States so that they could claim "Made in the USA". After seeing too many fickle, poorly set-up models in my GC, I was disgusted. I, too, have been playing (badly) 40+ years, and the fit/finish of the new Strats is very erratic. I knew that I could get a decent Strat for around $600, and I did: a "MIJ" Strat (actually, it's 'Crafted in Japan'!), that's a decade or so old. The neck is still true and the playability and tone are just fine, thank you. Maybe, like JoeJoe said, the Teles are better. After all, they aren't as popular a seller, so they're not trying to spit them out so fast. This can only help the QC dept keep up with demand. Anyway, enjoy your new axe!
Well, I think you guys are forgetting a couple of things.
Here in the Milwaukee area, there are two "super stores",
Guitar Center and Cascio Interstate Music...guitars hanging like
I guarantee you these guitars do not get set up.
They pull 'em outta the box and hang 'em up.
It is rare to find a properly setup guitar...
80% of the time, the necks have WAY too much relief in them,
and don't get me started on the effect hanging a guitar
from the headstock has on that... :roll:
Never hang a guitar from the headstock for more than a couple hours.
Anyways, there are a few smaller "Mom and Pop" stores around,
and they always adjust the guitars properly.
To base your opinion of an entire line of guitars on one guitar you
picked up at Guitar Center is.....well, I'll be polite, not quite thorough.
I also have a newer Mexican Tele, and there is no way that these are the
same parts assembled in different countries.
But I guess that's how stuff gets started,
rumors and here-say.
Anyways, I have played several Highway 1 Strats and Teles,
and while they all were not in proper adjustment,
the potential was there, just a tweak of the truss rod away.
I am fortunate to own many guitars, vintage and high end newer models,
and this Tele is just fine compared to them.
I would have no problem taking it to a gig as my only guitar. :D
OK, fair enough. My friend with the 'mom and pop' Fender dealer has been a very close friend for over 30 years. He is not starting rumors that the Fender rep told him the HOs were made from Mexican wood. He took on the line and didn't like it, sold them off to a dealer downstate and has kept the Custom Shop line. And it wasn't just 'neck adjustments' that these guitars needed. The bridges weren't adjusted, the frets needed dressing, screwholes were crooked, the fit and finish of the bodies was poor around the bridge base, and the neck-to-pocket fit was sloppy. I've seen excess glue on inlay dots, crooked strap pins, and popping tuners, and pinging nuts. For the money, there are better bets out there.
I'm (and I am reasonably sure JoeJoe,as well) not saying that the Highway Ones are a bad instrument. BUT the QC from Fender has been sporadic on many of their products, and you have to hunt through a pile of turds to find that diamond. You were able to find yours, congrats!
I think it's best to think of both the Highway One and MIM Fenders as NAFTA guitars. Fender tries to be a little cagy about this, but they don't exactly hide it. If you read the various guitar magazines and talk to the reps who have been on factory tours its obvious that the California and Ensenada plants are working as a unit - moving parts back and forth for various stages of production. The Ensenada plant is extremely modern with state of the art finish facilities and I think that I read the HOs and even some of the "American" series are finished there. I'd forget about where they are made and look at them line by line and model by model.
As far as fit and finish go, I've just always found it a crap shoot with sub $1K bolt neck instruments. Occasionally a manufacturer will make a real effort for a few years, but then profits will get squeezed and things will drop off. Either that or the instrument will sit in a store without a humidifier and the frets will all pop. When I get a bolt neck instrument, I almost always spend the better part of an afternoon rebuilding it from the ground up - crown and polish the frets, reset the neck, do a full setup. If it is a lefty Fender (I'm lefty) I have to rewire the pots because they hate lefties and reverse wire right-hand tapered pots. Of course, if you pay a tech to do that, it will cost you almost half as much as the retail price of a MIM Fender. Since I'm a lefty and pretty much have to buy without trying n the internet, I've been forced to learn to do it myself.
You know, maybe some of my affection for this guitar comes from the fact that I have grown accustomed to flatter fretboards and bigger frets, and my two vintage Strats just sit most of the time because of the smaller frets and rounder fretboards, so when I finally had a Fender with the qualities I wanted, I was elated!. I know this is not the first line of guitars Fender has made with a flatter fretboard and bigger frets, but I think it's the first with Jumbo frets, so I got kinda excited with that.
Another thing about my Mexican Tele and my Highway 1 Tele, the Mexican is much heavier. The tone and volume of the pickups on the H-1 is nicer and louder, along with other subtle differences, so this same parts business doesn't seem to be the case with my two Tele's.
You know, I gotta say that most guitars in general are WAY better than when I started playing. An entry level guitar when I was young was real junk. These entry level, lower priced guitars nowadays are pretty decent. Players starting out today have it SO much better...instructional DVD's, Training aids that slow down recordings without changing the pitch...I think if a young person applies themselves, there is now reason why they could not become a respectable guitarist...the guitars are better, the amps and effects are better, teaching is better...I kinda envy them.
Sometimes a guitar just feels right in your hands. Doesn't matter what is on the nameplate. I have a friend who has an old Squire P-bass that I think he will be buried with.
And I am definitely with you on how good cheap instruments are compared to what they were like in the 60's and 70's. People romanticize the era, but the cheap guitars were almost always real dogs (and not really that cheap). Give a modern bolt neck guitar of any price a good setup and at least it will feel great and play in tune. Put in a good set of pickups and it will sound darn good as well.
I like reading this stuff. I'm a drummer mainly (as the name implies), but I bought a Mexican Tele about 4 years ago as a backup for my broke guitar player at the time. He ended up using it as his main guitar, and played the hell out of it for a few years. Solid as a rock, and very playable, according to him. I'm now in a new band, and the Tele has become my new guitarist's first choice guitar. In the meantime I've played it here and there, for fun and recording my own stuff. Sounds great, stays in tune. I'm betting that when you can finally afford to play the top line stuff, a Mexican Tele is crap, but until then, pretty nice.
My understanding of the Mexican Fender's was that the parts are actually made in USA, but assembled in Mexico with lesser electronics and QC. Also that the bridge was chrome plated crap instead of stainless steel like the USA Fenders. True, the bridge and tail piece of mine has gotten pretty rusty, but for $60 or so I can replace it with a stainless assembly. I think unless you're ready to spend in the realm of $1500 or more, a cheap Fender is a good buy, and "upwardly mobile" as far as customizing with higher quality parts and pickups. In that vein, if anyone has any good links for such parts, let me know! About time to replace that bridge! Andy
The two things I like least on the MIM (the bridge and the electronics) are things I would swap out anyway. I like the vintage style bridge, and I just like to tinker with pickups and try out different kinds.
For those of you who want to read tons of this stuff on a board that is pretty much dominated by grownups, check out tdpri.com.
Well I will look foward to trying out one of the Highway One Teles when I get a chance.
It wasn't that the Highway One Strata was all the bad, I thought it sounded pretty good, I had to tweak the setup a little and get the neck heel to sit better in the body, but I did actually considered buying it, but convinced myself if I was going to drop that much bread, than for another hundred or so I'd just look for a used Amercian Strat and get the hard shell case to boot.
Who mention it ? But yea, low end guitars are alot better these days than they were in the days of yore. Who remembers those little flat body japanesse guitars they use to make in the 60's ? My first guitar was a Kent, those things were a trip, when I finally got a real guitar - a gibson, I thought I died and went to heaven.