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Thread: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Just a couple of weeks ago, Fender introduced a new, small series of acoustic-electric guitars called the Highway Series™. Not to be mistaken for the Acoustasonic series, Fender appears to have taken a cue from its earlier attempts and has come out with a pair of Dreadnoughts and Parlors, all priced at $999. The web site Audio Technology has a pretty thorough review of them here.

    My takeaway is that Fender has designed an acoustic guitar that plays like an electric (thin neck, control knobs on the front of the body) but is meant to be a gigging guitar -- plugged in. Fender collaborated with Fishman electronics to design a custom "Fluence" pickup that sits on the neck end of the sound hole. It's not a piezo pickup, but is powered by a 9-volt battery. Supposedly, it eliminates the "honk" that many piezo-equipped acoustics suffer from.

    I'm drawn to the parlor size, as these days my aging and small hands are more suited to small-body guitars. Yet, Fender claims one can get full guitar sound from these, in large part to the pickup design. The bodies are chambered mahogany, and the tops are either solid sitka spruce or solid mahogany. The necks are mahogany with rosewood fingerboards. When they show up at my local Fender dealer, I'd like to give one a try!


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    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Looks like a great idea. I don't really care what an acoustic sounds like unplugged. When I gig with an acoustic only needs to sound great when it's plugged in.
    I'd love to have a great sounding (plugged in) parlor size guitar. I'll go try one when they hit stores too!
    If you're bored, you're not groovin'.

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    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Played a couple of these yesterday unplugged for a bit. Played well. Not sure of the woods, but the darker top one sound like a toy unplugged. The spruce top was OK unplugged. They are definitely meant to be plugged in.
    Mark

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    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by blackonblack View Post
    Played a couple of these yesterday unplugged for a bit. Played well. Not sure of the woods, but the darker top one sound like a toy unplugged. The spruce top was OK unplugged. They are definitely meant to be plugged in.
    The Acoustisonic version has a torniveau in the sound hole giving it a little depth of sound. Not horrible, but not great either. Good thing they sound better plugged in!
    If you're bored, you're not groovin'.

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    In a way, I applaud Fender for not "staying in their lane." They began as electric instrument makers and periodically step into the acoustic guitar realm, but with limited success. Contrast that with Gibson, who began as acoustic guitar makers and branched into electrics. They even made a play in the amplifier space, but also with limited success.

    Other acoustic makers haven't fared as well when venturing into the electric region. I can't think I've ever seen a Martin electric (I don't mean an electrified acoustic, but a solidbody or archtop) and the Taylor "T5z" line I think appeal to a limited number of players. PRS, on the acoustic side, is much the same: They haven't made much of a splash with their acoustics, either.

    Ibanez is Ibanez. I'll leave it at that.

    Fender has produced a large number of acoustics, but has never seemed to find their niche. They offer inexpensive starter guitars, and I hear their Paramount series is respectable, so it remains to be seen if they have a hit with the Highway Series. I'd like to see it, but I'm not placing any bets...
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    Forum Member phantomman's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Ovation stepped into the solid-body electric arena some years back but quickly folded their tents when the marketplace had their say. The effort lasted just two or three years IIRC.
    "When injustice becomes law then rebellion becomes duty."

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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomman View Post
    Ovation stepped into the solid-body electric arena some years back but quickly folded their tents when the marketplace had their say. The effort lasted just two or three years IIRC.
    I had an Ovation Breadwinner electric back in college. I stupidly sold it in 1980 and have been kicking myself ever since.
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Fender Japan made an acoustic Strat. Solid body and piezo's only. You can clone one very easily. The advantage is you don't get feedback. The disadvantage is they sound like a piezo acoustic.

    Just sayin' 'cause if you already have a Strat or better yet a Tele you like but don't use all the time, adding peizo saddles is easy.

    For my live rig I have a well-traveled Ovation Balladeer with an onboard mic and a peizo which can be blended. Gives the zing of the piezo but adds the warmth of the mic. Sounds pretty good and the feedback is somewhat controlled by a soundhole cover,

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    I wish I could remember the brand and specs, but about 10 years ago, I put a system in my Martin. It's like six little individual mics that attach inside at the bridge. It doesn't use batteries and it sounds very very close to playing an acoustic with a mic in front of it. The blurb about it said that it was different from most transducer pickup systems. I have no frame of reference to those. Certainly doesn't sound like a piezo.

    By the way, one of my favorite albums was Wings Over America. 70s Ovations, and I don't mind the sound at all. Not sure what pickups they were but certainly not mic'd sounding.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Back in the day, we would get one of those suction cup microphones you put on your phone to record it and that was our acoustic pickup system.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    Contrast that with Gibson, who began as acoustic guitar makers and branched into electrics. They even made a play in the amplifier space, but also with limited success.
    Gibson had no choice. Fender came on the seen after the electric guitar was already in production.

    In general, Fender acoustics have always left a lot to be desired. I don't know why, but they have always been the most generic, uninspiring acoustics out there. I too enjoy seeing them producing these new guitars.
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    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by gibsonjunkie View Post
    I had an Ovation Breadwinner electric back in college. I stupidly sold it in 1980 and have been kicking myself ever since.
    Just have Mark Stoleson, Stol Guitars, make one for you. It will be a better guitar than any Ovation electric ever produced!
    If you're bored, you're not groovin'.

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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Tele-Bob View Post
    Just have Mark Stoleson, Stol Guitars, make one for you. It will be a better guitar than any Ovation electric ever produced!
    He did make that steel one that sorta looks like a bedpan with a neck. Fender tried making acoustics side by side with Guild guitars in their New Hartford factory. None of the guild Mojo rubbed off on the Fenders, however.
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Talking piezo equipped electrics, I’ve a a few. My best sounding is my Godin. Had a PRS for a while and traded it. 90% of the tone I desire I can get from my Parker. As the Parker is probably my best playing guitar, it gets the nod for when I need to do both.

    as far as electrifying acoustics, I prefer K&Konboard Trinity, but they don’t make it anymore. Now I use LR Baggs Anthems.
    Mark

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Tele-Bob View Post
    Gibson had no choice. Fender came on the seen after the electric guitar was already in production.

    In general, Fender acoustics have always left a lot to be desired. I don't know why, but they have always been the most generic, uninspiring acoustics out there. I too enjoy seeing them producing these new guitars.
    However, their el cheapo $200 models sound better than any of their more expensive models. I’d gig with one. Might even record with it.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    There's a guy in our folk club who plays a Fender acoustic -- no bling, nothing to distinguish it in a sea of Taylors, Martins, Santa Cruzes, Collings and Takamines except for the name on the headstock. Mic'ed up, it sounds no worse (or better) than any of the the others.
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    Forum Member Mister D's Avatar
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    Re: New Fender Highway Series Acoustic-Electric Guitars

    I don't care for these. Just my two cents. I didn't like the Acoustasonic stuff either. Not acoustic or electric enough for my ears.

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