What's your opinion on the American Special Telecaster? A legit USA Tele?

John C

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The American Special is a gloss poly finished Highway One. It was part of the evolution of that line.

2001: Highway One
2006: Highway One v2
2011: American Special
2016: American Performer

Correct - but a slight change to your timeline:

2010: American Special
2018: American Performer

Fender overlapped the American Special and the Highway 1 v2 models for all of 2010 and part of 2011 before the Highway 1 v2s were officially discontinued - but I don't remember exactly which month in 2011 the Highway 1s were finally dropped from the lineup. The American Performers replaced the American Specials in early December 2018.
 

Minivan Megafun

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Correct - but a slight change to your timeline:

2010: American Special
2018: American Performer

Fender overlapped the American Special and the Highway 1 v2 models for all of 2010 and part of 2011 before the Highway 1 v2s were officially discontinued - but I don't remember exactly which month in 2011 the Highway 1s were finally dropped from the lineup. The American Performers replaced the American Specials in early December 2018.

Ah. Yes I remember the Highway Ones overlapped the Am Specials for a bit. It's unclear when the H1 officially ended - it's more like they let it quietly fade away as they transitioned to the Am Special.

But yeah, if you look at the specs of the Highway One v2 and the Am Special they are IDENTICAL in all ways aside from the body finish.
 

John C

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Ah. Yes I remember the Highway Ones overlapped the Am Specials for a bit. It's unclear when the H1 officially ended - it's more like they let it quietly fade away as they transitioned to the Am Special.

But yeah, if you look at the specs of the Highway One v2 and the Am Special they are IDENTICAL in all ways aside from the body finish.

I agree. It wasn't like they told dealers "No more Highway 1s after June 30, 2011" or something like that to generate some final orders, it was more like one day they were still available for dealers to order and the next day they were gone. I don't recall any kind of public announcement that they were discontinued.

Regarding the specs - not only were the specs identical (except for body finish and pickups) Fender even kept the same part number on the necks, and all the way through the life of the American Special the factory part number/tracking sticker sill said "USA Highway 1 Upgrade" on it.
 
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KC

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This thread got me to haul my Am Spec tele out of the closet & I've been enjoying it again. Very easy to play in my hands, I like the flat radius & big frets, and the Texas Specials sound great through my set-up. I remember why I sold the American Standard that I had at the same time -- this one was getting all the playing time, despite the Standard being a "better" guitar.

It's my least tele tele, though. Lately I've been playing my '69 thinline RI, MIM but setup and fretwork by a pro luthier, Lollar al3s. This is a very tele tele -- small frets, tight radius, bright and spanky. The pickups sound great and I have to fight the neck a little, which is maybe a good thing. I'n not getting rid of either one; the Special is a good all-rounder, but the Thinline is great when you need a classic telecaster sound. Hello, Albert Collins.

Both of them, apropos of nothing, are shell pink.
 

brmusician

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This thread got me to haul my Am Spec tele out of the closet & I've been enjoying it again. Very easy to play in my hands, I like the flat radius & big frets, and the Texas Specials sound great through my set-up. I remember why I sold the American Standard that I had at the same time -- this one was getting all the playing time, despite the Standard being a "better" guitar.

It's my least tele tele, though. Lately I've been playing my '69 thinline RI, MIM but setup and fretwork by a pro luthier, Lollar al3s. This is a very tele tele -- small frets, tight radius, bright and spanky. The pickups sound great and I have to fight the neck a little, which is maybe a good thing. I'n not getting rid of either one; the Special is a good all-rounder, but the Thinline is great when you need a classic telecaster sound. Hello, Albert Collins.

Both of them, apropos of nothing, are shell pink.
It the Special neck too thin as other people are saying? I'm planning getting one... I love the jumbo frets like on my SRV strats, but I wonder if the neck is too thin.
 

John C

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It the Special neck too thin as other people are saying? I'm planning getting one... I love the jumbo frets like on my SRV strats, but I wonder if the neck is too thin.

The American Special neck is a Fender Modern C neck - so expect it to be in the ballpark of .820" at the first fret and .870" at the 1th fret; of course all Fender necks vary a bit. Some consider that to be too thin, but it's certainly not as thin as a shredder neck like an Ibanez Wizard or something like that. Also it's 1 11/16" (or 1.6875" or 42.8mm) wide at the nut.
 

brmusician

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The American Special neck is a Fender Modern C neck - so expect it to be in the ballpark of .820" at the first fret and .870" at the 1th fret; of course all Fender necks vary a bit. Some consider that to be too thin, but it's certainly not as thin as a shredder neck like an Ibanez Wizard or something like that. Also it's 1 11/16" (or 1.6875" or 42.8mm) wide at the nut.
Nice... I like my MIA Standard Strat Modern-C neck. Not as thick as my SRV, but good enough. I'm planning getting a Special Tele and replace tuners with ClassicGear vintage ones like on the American Performer... this way I'd have practically a Performer but with a more affordable price (at least in Brazil where Performers are rare).
 

Maguchi

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Hey guys!

So, what's your opinion on the American Special Telecaster? Is it a "legit" USA Telecaster?

I love the fact that it has the "Modern C" neck, my favorite Fender neck, but... I heard that the American Special Telecaster is not a "legit" USA Made Telecaster because of being built with Mexican hardware (?), woods (?) and random surplus Telecaster parts... Is this true and should I believe this?

I want a "100% pure" tradicional Telecaster. Not vintage, but a legit USA Made Telecaster do add to my blasphemous HH "Hot Rod" MIM Telecaster, that I tune in C standard for doom/stoner/sludge metal...

I want a "traditional" Telecaster for E standard tuning for a more indie/alt/funk/soul/ska/rock repertoire.

Does the American Special Telecaster fit the bill or should I just aim for the American Professional?

I really really like the fact that the American Special, is "American", has the "Modern C" neck and that is a lot cheaper...

Any and all ideas on this are very welcomed.

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,

Daniel
Yes, the Specials were the budget USA built guitars a couple years ago and were made very well. Currently the American Performer is the cheapest American made model and I have a Performer Tele and Performer Jazzmaster that I love. They have great sounding pickups, well finished fretwork, play really smooth and feel solid. Great deal for the money.

Fndr AmPerfHbSB.jpg
FndrJzmastr.jpg
 

John C

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Nice... I like my MIA Standard Strat Modern-C neck. Not as thick as my SRV, but good enough. I'm planning getting a Special Tele and replace tuners with ClassicGear vintage ones like on the American Performer... this way I'd have practically a Performer but with a more affordable price (at least in Brazil where Performers are rare).

Just got this one... luckily it will be delivered in less than a week. Also bought ClassicGear tuners to make it look more vintage, like a Performer one.


Congrats! That's a nice looking one!

Yes, the neck is pretty much the same as found on an American Standard, but it will feel a bit different due to the larger frets.

I had an American Performer Mustang for a few years; loved the Classicgear tuners - as you say vintage looks and modern ratio. Personally the split post tuners are my favorites; I can string them up just about as quickly as I can with locking tuners.
 

Telecaster96

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Hello, I'm Simone from Italy. Recently I bought a brand new Fender American Special Telecaster in a shop close to me for 900€. I thought it was a good price since here Performers sell for 1300€ and I know this is weird but they told me that every year they choose some guitars to keep in stock like some kind or reserve. When this year they checked the warehouse they decied to sell some guitars and one of them now it's mine. After reading this discussion I decided to check because I wanted more info on my axe. Searching the serial number on the Fender official website I found this (mine is from 2010). As you can see it says clearly, quote: "Custom shop Texas Special". I think this is quite reliable!

1643203010285.png
1643203935823.png
 
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PARCO

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I've got one and if it had a fatter neck it would probably be my best guitar. It sounds great and it's just about perfect weight wise.
 

Buzzgrowl

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American Specials are the best strats and teles made in the last 20 years. IMO of course. One day, I hope to find an AS tele. My Baja clasic player is an "opposite" of sorts, and is great too.
 

Mur

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Yes, the Specials were the budget USA built guitars a couple years ago and were made very well. Currently the American Performer is the cheapest American made model and I have a Performer Tele and Performer Jazzmaster that I love. They have great sounding pickups, well finished fretwork, play really smooth and feel solid. Great deal for the money.

View attachment 923466 View attachment 923467
Jazzmaster, those pups . . I like it !
 

Flaneur

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As with all things Telecaster, each of us will have detail preferences- neck shape, fret size, pickups, setup- but in terms of quality material and manufacture, American Specials are 'a Proper Job', as they say, in Cornwall (the far west, of England).
 

boris bubbanov

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Just want to disavow my old 2017 post in this thread.

The trend is all towards larger fretwire and I'm going to simply have to accept that this is the future.

Just because I can't play the large wire well, doesn't make it illegitimate. When you at least have the slanted T style bridge pickup and 3 barrel configuration, you've got enough things right to get the Gold Seal of Approval.
 

sloppychops

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Bought a used Am Special several years ago, but found I didn't like it all that much until I changed the neck out for a Vintera 50s neck. The fat fret wire and thin neck profile wasn't for me.
 




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