Review: Fender Select Stratocaster HSS

Fender’s new Select Series guitars and basses are designed for the dedicated Fender player who loves the classic appeal and functionality of a Strat, Tele, Precision Bass or Jazz Bass but also enjoys the refined elegance of exotic woods, high-end features and modern enhancements.

With its humbucker/single/single pickup configuration, the Select Stratocaster HSS delivers the goods for guitarists who prefer the fat tones and higher output of a bridge humbucking pickup but also need a Strat’s sweet single-coil sounds.

Attention to detail and an abundance of upscale upgrades make the Select Stratocaster HSS competitive with much more expensive custom instruments, providing outstanding value for players who demand the best and are unwilling to compromise.


The Select Stratocaster HSS immediately stands out from the pack thanks to its flame maple top, premium alder body and the warm amber glow of its Antique Burst gloss lacquer finish. The C-shaped bird’s-eye maple neck features a smooth-feeling satin lacquer finish and a buffed rosewood fretboard with a compound radius and 22 medium-jumbo frets.

The neck attaches to the body with a four-bolt neck plate with Micro-Tilt, and the contoured heel provides comfortable access to the upper frets. The pickups are all specially wound Fender Select models that produce moderately hot output. A special No-Load tone control circuit bypasses the tone circuit altogether to provide the pure, unadulatered tone of the bridge humbucker when the tone control furthest from the bridge is turned all the way up.


The Select Stratocaster HSS may be a very classy-looking ax, but its sound can be as gutsy and raunchy or mellow and sweet as you want it to be. The Select humbucker bridge pickup has just the right balance of fatness, warmth, definition and sparkle. With a moderate amount of gain, artificial harmonic squeals pop from the strings with ease, and glorious grit and bark emerge when you bear down on the strings. The neck, middle and “in between” (neck/middle single-coils, bridge humbucker/middle single-coil) settings all have the distinctive Strat personality, with the neck pickup sounding especially round and robust.

The neck’s modern C-shaped profile and compound radius provide a comfortable balance between vintage heft and the playing ease of a shred-style slim neck. Locking tuners keep the strings perfectly in tune even after abusing the vintage-style tremolo, which delivers sparkling, full, rich overtones as only a vintage-style trem can.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.