American Standard FSR Hand Stained Ash Strat HSH review by Fender

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.3 (33 votes)
Fender: American Standard FSR Hand Stained Ash Strat HSH
3

Price paid: C$ 1249

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Sound — 10
I've owned a couple HSS Strats in the past, and while they were fairly versatile, this one takes Strat sound to a whole new level. The sheer volume of sounds this guitar can create is amazing, and the humbucker design used on this guitar really is something special when you mate it with the USA Strat single coil (positions 2 and 4). Strat players looking for a little different punch will no doubt fall in love with this. It blew me away. Not just playing a Strat with humbuckers, but the way Fender has balanced and mated the two HB's with the single coil. It's absolutely brilliant. Playing either HB on its own will be a nice variety for SSS owners, but the way the single coil fills out the sound and attack either way and provides an incredibly full yet bright tone is really the surprise I had. I honestly can't believe Fender hasn't pushed this out before, or on other models. I've previously used HSS Strats more for crunch and distortion settings than clean, but with this baby I honestly can't get enough of the way position 4 sounds with just a little reverb or compression, or pure clean. Honestly between this guitar and my US SSS model, there aren't too many sounds I can't replicate, in any genre of music. For over past 25+ years, I play a wide variety of stuff, from classic rock to edgy country to blues and everything in between, and if I could only have one guitar to do it all, this new HSH model would have to be the one without question. I play through a HOT Rod Deluxe, and add some GT10 "tweaks" on occasion, but even straight clean into the HRD this is one beautiful sounding machine.

Overall Impression — 10
I really want to give a 9 somewhere to avoid the impression of the kid in the candy store, but the poop-eating grin I've been sporting since I first plugged this in would tell you I'm lying. I really don't know where to dock a point. So my apologies, but it's 10's across the board. At the end of the day, nothing related to pickups, finishes, materials, or design really matters - it's how the guitar makes you feel, and this one is just the best guitar I've ever played. Beyond that, it's also the most unique Stratocaster I've ever layed eyes on. I really hope Fender sees the potential in this HSH configuration and pushes it out to some more mainstream Strat models. It's so versatile, so well balanced, and the combination is something that will really bring a smile to experienced Strat players when you hear them together. I've said this before about other guitars but with this one I believe it's true... I'll have this one with me as long as I'm able to keep a death grip on it. Hard to find them now, but if you're a Strat player and want something unique and different and rewarding, you'd have a hard time beating this.

Reliability & Durability — 10
While I've only had this unit for a couple weeks, I own and have owned other American Fenders both Strats and Teles and have no fears this one is built to the same level. The only question I have is with the body finish, since it's a unique and rare one. However, it seems today everyone is looking for the road-worn look, so how can I even complain if it does wear faster than other US machines? I haven't had a single build issue with any Fender products, and the only electronics issues I've run into were related to knob wiring on a Mexican model. Safe to say that you're going to be pleased with this series, no question.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Right out of the case this one was set up very nicely, as you might I guess expect from an American Fender model, although the action was a little higher than my SSS or Tele. Outside of the string height, the neck feels as great as my other American Fenders, and it's the nicest rosewood fretboard I've played. Fret edges are buttery smooth, and all controls work beautifully. No buzz on any fret. I think my SSS may be slightly low, but since it doesn't buzz I never raised the action. This guitar has me thinking I might now. The finish, well, the photos will tell the story there... It's incredibly unique, and I just love the way the woodgrain stands out. The body is very light although I don't have a weight to provide. The "limited edition" neckplate is very cool too. I hate reviews that give all 10's for ratings, but I fear I'm going to have to do it with this one. I haven't been able to find a single fault with this axe.

Features — 10
Part of the Fender Special Run Hand Stained Ash American Standard series, mine is a Stratocaster HSH. Long name for a limited edition Strat, but also a very unique Strat design. Features include an Ash body with a hand-rubbed stain and satin-lacquer finish, which really brings out the grain in the wood. Pickups are a real rarity in a Fender guitar, let alone a Strat... HSH, with two "Twin Head" humbuckers sandwiching an American Strat single coil. Typical Strat 5-way switching, with two tone knobs and one master volume. My model is the wine red one (there was also a mahogany one created), and it has the buffed rosewood fretboard over a modern C-shape maple neck (there is a maple fretboard version that was also sold). Most other appointments are typical American Standard variety, from the synchronized 2-point tremolo with Vintage style bent steel saddles, 3-ply pickguard, synthetic bone string nut, 9.5" radius, 22 medium jumbo frets with hand-rolled edges, bi-flex truss rod, etc. Of course it comes with the Fender SKB molded case with all the same candy as the USA Strats have. For the level of uniqueness of this guitar (less than 150 made), and the usual Corona attention to build and craftsmanship detail, I'm going to give this a solid 10.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TEKarma
    Readjust your scale then. 10s should be the best guitar in the circumstances. There will be lots of ties. Saying no guitar can rate all 10s just sounds silly.
    DJ Dunzie
    Well, I know what you are saying... if it adds some credibility to the review, the action was slightly higher than I'm used to so go 9/10 on the 3rd section. My problem is I've rated other guitars I liked a lot less with 8's and 9's so it's all relative. I've played a lot of guitars over my lifetime and this is my favorite electric. It's also got a ton of characater being a one-off finish with a pickup combo I've never seen in a Strat before. I appreciate the comment though, because I've done the same eye roll reading some reviews here all 10's. I didn't rate my SSS Strat all 10's, and it's a peach in its own right. This one struck me as deserving full marks for sound, feature set, and impression at the very least. Your mileage may vary. Cheers!
    LeakyFlask
    ^ Dunzie, you seem like a very sensible guy compared to some people on here! Actually, it's rare but always nice to see such a nuanced response to criticism. The Strat looks really intriguing, too, and that red finish is absolutely gorgeous.
    kenney81
    To me, a strat shouldn't have humbuckers, only single coils. If people wanted a dual coil sound then they should play a guitar other than a strat.
    DJ Dunzie
    Hey Straggler great story and feedback... Glad to hear another happy HSH FSR believer. I'm so sold on those Twin Head HB's I'm trying to get Fender to release them to parts sales so I can put one in my HSS. The guitar would be perfect with the compound radius neck out of the American Deluxe... I have since added the Fender locking sealed F logo tuners to mine but to this day still consider it one of my favorite all time go-to guitars.
    Shornifier
    Probably not worth all 10's, but if the owner should feel so, not judging him. Looks nice...specs are wow too.
    cnixon52
    Well DJ i would like to thank you first for your review. i was looking around for my second guitar and i was pulled between a Les Paul or the American Standard. I have been playing for 18 months now so i am no where close to being a professional on guitars. I ran into your review after finding this Guitar online at guitar center and it only had one review. this pushed me away, but after reading your review i just felt you knew what you were talking about. I went down and it took me about 3 hours in the store to finely make my mind up. I pick this guitar. Mine is the Fender American Standard Hand-Rubbed Ash Blond Stratocaster HSH Electric Guitar Amber Stain Rosewood Fingerboard . Very nice looking, the feel as soon as i picked it up is out of this world. it weighs about 6 to 8 once less then my first HSS Mex start. The sounds are very clear and yes i am finding so many different sound that can be made due to the HSH. At first it was hard to find my sounds but after i did, Wow for the price i feel i made a great pick. I am playing through my Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40 watt Tweed amp. I also have been using the Boss JS-8 E-band audio / multi effects player. this is a great tool to learn with. I did changes the strings to 9's. after changing string i have not had to tune this baby up other then very very minor tweaks. I am very happy with this Guitar and would like to thank you for your review. Again i am new to playing guys but bottom line, I have learned if it make you feel the music then something right.
    derwoodkirkwood
    Well, I just bought one --on sale for about 1500. My other guitar is American Standard Strat with the Hot Texas Pickups--that one cost about 850 7 years ago. I can tell you the difference is like playing a cheap crummy guitar to an unbelievable guitar. I simply can't get over the sound and feel of the HSH. Though I love my Standard Strat, I always felt I was fighting the guitar to get great tones/chords--the HSH just sounds incredible--right out of the box. I hate to say this--but I always assumed a big part of sucking at guitar was me--I just sucked--and for the last 30 years I've sucked. I am still not God on guitar--but man, I had no idea what a difference it makes to find a really amazing guitar. I don't even understand why this thing sounds and plays so good--but it does. I strongly encourage anyone looking for a Fender to check out the HSH
    straggler13
    OK...Allow an old player to wax. I have seen and played many, many Strats ( and many other guitars) after forty-eight years of playing (not contiguous) and shopping for a Strat that I thought special, and trying many many along the way ... I found this one near Minneapolis Minn. at a Guitar Center .. no less ( usually don't even go in there ). It scared me. I went in, asked for the sales cat to show be the Strat he thought was the best he carried, then asked for an iso-booth, a good Marshall or Fender amp and some time where she and I could be alone. And she scared me! I have never played a Strat with such a good sound ...especially with, what I considered this 'gimmicky' Ltd HSH PUPs stuff on it. But, I knew right away. ( I never know right away!) I came out of the booth, told my wife my dilemma - that I was going to have to walk around out side { in Minnesota -I'm from coastal California..} and check my attitude.. then come in and buy this weird guitar. Which I did. I have played others since. Just to compare. I stole mine for ~$1,100.00 OTC. I have found no better. Hope no-one objects but I give it a //9.9 so I don't upset anyone.
    straggler13
    I agree completely...but I gave it a 9.9 just to be safe. I feel very lucky to have found it. I feel very smart that I bought it.