When the Stratocaster first launched in 1954, Leo Fender's goal was to build an affordable, workingman's instrument by simplifying the design and streamlining the production process. The result is a versatile, expressive guitar that has now become ubiquitous across all genres of music as a Swiss-army-knife guitar. Nevertheless, an interesting consequence of Leo's genius is the mutability of the design. While Stratocaster parts aren't exactly 100% interchangeable, players have always experimented with Fender templates. Sometimes when you combine the right parts, you can create something unique that tells its own story.
This Partscaster started out with the unlikely combination of a Fender American Stratocaster neck from 1999 and a beautifully-weathered Highway One body from 2005. The neck has weathered nicely over the years, too, which provides matching mojo for the thin nitro finish on the body (which is worn really nice—a real relic). The neck has a C-Shape profile, 9.5" radius, and medium jumbo frets, so while it captures vintage vibe and mojo, the feel is much more modern. The body is dated Aug. 14 of 2005, and in the Highway 1 nomenclature, it's subtle three-tone sunburst is called the "Santa Cruz" finish.
Under the hood, this Partscaster is rigged up with Fender Custom Shop pickups. The exact model of these pickups is a bit of a mystery, but each has the appropriate Fender Custom Shop badge, and they're obviously a matching set. They have Alnico magnet poles that are staggered and un-rounded (more in line with '50s-style Strat pickups). The neck resistance is 5.6 k ohms, the middle reads 5.8 k ohms, and the bridge reads 6.1 k ohms. All of the wiring is modern American-made components. The CTS pots date to 2015.
The bridge and all of its associated components appear to be original to the body, but the three-ply pickguard and tremolo cavity coverplate—while genuine Fender parts—appear to be after-market replacements. The tremolo cavity coverplate doesn't quite match the original screw pattern, so there are extra holes.
Overall, this 1999/2005 Fender Highway One Stratocaster Partscaster is a fantastic player with rich, authentic Strat tone. It demonstrates how the right parts really can come together and create something new. The guitar includes a basic Fender gig bag.