Sunday, November 20, 2011

1996 to 1999 Fender Lone Star Stratocaster Guitar Review

Como estas?

A while back I wrote about one of my original issue Fender Lone Star Stratocasters (I’ve had a few), and thought that maybe I should fill in some of the blanks about the history of these guitars.

In 1996 (Fender’s 50th anniversary), Fender issued a handful of special edition Stratocasters with features not found on their American Standard guitars. Among them were the Roadhouse, Big Apple and Lone Star Models.

The Lone Star Stratocaster was an American Standard Stratocaster with an upgraded electronics package that included a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates humbucker at the bride and two Texas Special single coil pickups.

They were available in a light Sunburst or Olympic White with a tortoise shell pickguard, and Black, Candy Apple Red, Shoreline Gold or Teal Green Metallic with a white pearloid guard.

These guitars were only available with tremolo (no hardtails) and sealed chrome tuners. Necks had maple or rosewood fretboards with 22 frets pressed into them.

My only real beef with these guitars is that they have really bulky bodies, quite unlike the profile of the original Stratocasters. By the way, all of the ones I have seen have swimming pool routes in the bodies. Some folks sniff at them, but I do not really think they change the tone that much.

The tone is typical HSS with a pretty good growl from the bridge pickup, and clean highs from the two single coils. So, the Lone Star Stratocasters are very good for rock and blues, but they do not sound like a Stratocaster. A lot of these have been changed into the SSS configuration just for this reason.

In July of 2000, the Lone Star Stratocasters morphed into the American Series Fat Strat Texas Special, with the same pickups and other improvements that the American Standard Series guitars received.

Then, in July of 2003 Fender discontinued the Texas Special and introduced the American Series Stratocaster HSS. They changed the pickups to Fender Tex-Mex single coils and a Fender Diamondback humbucker, and installed S-1 switching.

Finally, in December of 2007, they announced the American Standard Stratocaster HSS, which kept the Tex-Mex and Diamondback, but lost the S-1 switching. They also got the upgrades that the American Standard Stratocasters got, including the rolled fretboards and the heavy bridges with bent saddles.

It should be noted that there is once again a Lone Star Stratocaster in the Fender line-up. This one is made in Mexico and has same pickups and features as the original for a lot less money ($899.99 MSRP) than the American Standard Stratocaster that has a list price of $1569.99. Check one out!



  1. Hi, The 1996/7 Lone Star model was also abvailable in light blue metallic with pearloid pick-guard and back plate

  2. I have a 1997 Teal Lone Star American Made Strat. What are these going for nowadays?

  3. I bought my Candy Apple Red Lone Star in 1998 new for just under $600 bucks. The one on the wall in Dublin CA. had a Rosewood neck and I wanted Maple. The sales lady (who's dad owned the store) called down to Fender right in front of me asking if they had red/maple ready to ship. They guy at Fender asked how serious 'the buyer' me was and I tossed my money clip on her podium. So Fender pulled a Candy Apple Red body and swapped the neck for maple and shipped it up. I never cared for the Texas specials so I swapped them out for a Seymour Little 59 and a JB Junior. With some switching push-pushes I now have an HHH with coil taps. Much more versatile. Of course, none of them are as versatile as my '91 Ultra, but that's a review for another day...

    1. Small world! I know the music store you speak of in Dublin, CA and the gal you dealt with was one of two sisters, or daughters of the owner.

      Nice set-up you did on your Lone Star.

      I also own a 1996 American Lone Star Strat. The color is Ice Blue Metallic. The neck is maple, with a rosewood fret board. I got mine around 2008 in SF from the original owner who never played it for $500.00 with the high end classic guitar case. The wife said it had to go cuz it was taking up space. I felt bad for the guy. He was still attached to it, but happy wife, happy life, I guess, and the price was a great deal back then. Used American Strats were selling for $600 - $650 range back then.

      The ride back downtown to work on a Vespa scooter was a bit of a challenge from Ocean Beach in the Sunset. Best lunch I ever took.

      I still have today and it has been my number one electric for playing live shows in SF and recording. Very versatile guitar with the unique pick-up configuration. I can get a sick, dark , chunky heavy metal sound that keeps up with any other guitar. I can also get a really bright, super clear strat sound. It even sounds great with no effects. Just plug and play. Whatever style, this guitar can do it. That's why my expensive traditional american strat and les paul guitars don't get played very much. Easier to lug one guitar that can produce both sounds. If you can get one, get it. No regrets from this guy.

    2. Which positions did you install the 59 and the junior in? Thanks!

  4. Fun fact, the 2011 roadworn strats have an HSS configuration that is the Lonestar Strat combo…except, the bridge humbucker is not wired to the tone pots (vintage style) but they also have a thin nitro finish. If you can get your hands on one don’t let it go. I’ve owned and played many strats as well as LP’s SG’s and Tele’s but this 2011 roadworn will probably be buried with me lol

  5. I was given a 1999 American Lonestar for my birthday from my sons. I’m a big Billy Gibbons/SRV fan and this guitar gave me the best of both tones with upgraded appointments. I’m recreating another favorite using a USA highway one with 920D 7 way switching and a trio of red devil pickups. I did this once before and was the most metal sounding guitar. But stupidly sold it. Played in HHH mode it was the cleanest distortion I’ve ever heard and had the attitude to back it up. It was like the old stereo commercial of the guy in a chair getting sound blasted at him. Like that without the mess.