Before I officially bring home the Fender Mustang to be a permanent part of the family, I thought I would give you guys the low down on my original #1 guitar. “Jessica” is a 2004 Fender Highway One prototype** Stratocaster, that Fender only produced a handful of. These models in particular were put together with higher grade American Standard components, but with a bit of hot rod style. It has more than everything you need, and absolutely nothing of what you don’t, from the re-wound Texas Special single coils, Tone Bucket pots, and bi-flex truss rod the Highway One elements are clearly evident, with a more “AS” feel. The pickguard date puts this guitar as being built on November 24th, 2004, during the process of “working out the bugs” from the original Highway One’s. It keeps to the original idea of the 50’s (not 70’s) theme with the smaller headstock and 8.5″ radius neck, as well as a gloss lacquered neck and extremely thin skin nitrocellulose lacquer finish in a now discontinued color, White Blonde. The neck is buffed rosewood with clay dots, and the body a light, one piece slab of Alder. It shines with the volume and tone full up, but backing off just a small amount makes her sound just dark enough to have a large bottom end, even through an AC30. As beautiful as this guitar already sounds, I have added my own modifications to enhance the beauty she already is. I’ve had the frets hand rolled, orange drop capacitors added, a solid brass tremolo block added underneath the original early 60’s style bridge, and very particular claw and spring work in the back. I only use three springs in parallel in the back, with the cavity uncovered to bring a little more natural tone out of the body, and the action is slightly lower than stock, using Ernie Ball 11’s only. The finish has aged like fine wine, darkening and checking already, but tastefully so the guitar looks well loved, but not abused. I have had to apply a layer of clear coat over the edge of the upper body in order for the paint to stay on, but it is almost unnoticeable. She’s still my #1, but after 8 years of daily use, and 650 shows, its time for a #2, to make sure that Jessica has a bit of insurance when I walk onto the stage, or into the studio.
Photo circa 2007, Asheville, North Carolina.