Gear Review: Fender H.E.R. Signature Stratocaster

Soon after her Grammy performance, the artist H.E.R. began working with Fender on a signature model, a striking Stratocaster which represents a great balance between the traditional Strat we all love and something definitively new.

The Chrome Glow finish is a sharp-looking bright silver that matches the anodized aluminum pickguard and looks great in the lights. In a nod to collectable vintage custom-color Strats, a matching painted headstock is a great touch, and more subtle than some custom-color matching headstocks. A maple fingerboard and white plastics are the finishing aesthetic touches on this nice-looking instrument. I appreciate the fact that the guitar is not covered in distracting reminders that it’s a signature model. In fact, the only way to identify it directly with the artist is the subtle “H.E.R.” etched on the neckplate on the back. In other words, this is a Strat that will look right at home on any gig.

I am constantly amazed at how guitar manufacturers continue to improve the quality-to-price ratio, and both the build and the factory set-up on this mid-priced guitar, made in Fender’s Mexico factory, bear this out. The satin mid-‘60s “C”-shaped neck is right in the wheelhouse for most players. The neck seems especially solid to the point that the neck-to-body feels like what you’d expect on a more expensive instrument. Fretting and bending were smooth as silk. 

Fender H.E.R. Stratocaster

Volume and tone controls were consistent across their entire ranges. All three felt especially smooth yet solid, which isn’t always the case in a brand-new guitar. Tone controls are wired in the modern configuration favored by all but the most vintage-centric Strat players; the bridge pickup’s tone control knob is the one nearest the jack, while the other knob controls the tone of both the neck and middle pickups, as compared to “vintage” wiring where the bridge pickup’s tone can’t be controlled.

Fender H.E.R. Engraved Neckplate

Some uber-traditionalists might blink at the fact the guitar’s sports Fender Noiseless™ pickups. While you might notice a difference between its tone and a true vintage Strat with old-school single coils into a clean amp, there wasn’t a bad sound to be had. The H.E.R. finds a nice compromise between classic tones and a guitar that can be played at high gain without constant volume control riding to mitigate noise. This guitar strikes a great balance between modern usability and traditional tone.

What’s not to like? This is a great-playing, stylish-looking Strat that eliminates the need to manually control noise via volume between songs. The H.E.R. Stratocaster is a solid guitar for a wide variety of styles at a reasonable price.

Street price: $1099

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