History is the essential part of humankind, but so it is for instruments as well. You might not be willing to go back in time and explore the models that were created long ago, but the chances are all those new guitars are affected by the past. Alongside with modern guitars, the majority of the brands attempt to continue or repeat the legacy that was produced by some legendary axes. They might not be exact replications of previous models, but the chances are they will repeat at least some of the features. Fender created the original Duo-Sonic back in 1956. It was marketed as a student guitar and won the hearts of many players. But they didn’t want its virtues to be forgotten, so they designed a newer, more affordable version. It’s hard to say whether Duo-Sonic HS is better than the original, but if we’re being honest, it doesn’t even matter. The main thing is how this fella performs and if it suits your needs or not. Let’s figure that out in this review.
As mentioned, Fender Duo-Sonic HS is a forgotten classic that has been brought to us once again. It has an eye-pleasing design, no matter what color you decide to splurge for. Its compact body, double cutaway and round edges make it look sleek and expensive. I always love when looks are just as good as the rest of the guitars.
Speaking of other features, Duo-Sonic HS has a durable alder body with the scale length of 24 inches. The short scale might be really comfortable for many, particularly for those who have smaller bodies. But I can see many of you complaining about it. In other words, the shorter scale is definitely the matter of taste and comfort, but you can get used to it just in case you decide to take a risk. C-shape maple neck and Pau Ferro fretboard are convenient to play, since the thickness doesn’t get in the way of reaching the desired strings. Plus, mastering the chords is hard enough – we don’t need extra trouble created by the neck, am I right?
The most interesting part of the hardware has to be the six-saddle hardtail bridge, which directs the strings through the body. It enhances the sustain, while enabling you to modify the intonation of each string individually. It’s easy to take this feature for granted, but let’s not forget that we don’t encounter it even in some high-end models. Tuning machines are strong and sturdy – the tune the strings easily and hold them in perfect shape for a long time.
The electronics of Duo-Sonic HS are more than nice. I’d say they have a wonderful quality, especially considering the price tag. Here, we have a combination of Duo Sonic single-coil neck pickup and Duo Sonic humbucker on the bridge. Though the former is noticeably quieter than the latter, you can balance them out while playing. There are Master Volume and Master Tone controls on the body so that you can modify these particular parameters. There’s also a coil-splitting feature, which gives you even more sonic options to work with.
Even though Duo-Sonic HS has a shorter scale, the sound doesn’t get affected by the smaller size. It’s still quite powerful, even more than you might expect. Both pickups sound wonderful – they are crispy, clear and punchy. The coil-splitting feature is a game-changer – with a simple push/pull motion you can open up countless possibilities. As mentioned, the humbucker can be a bit louder than the single coil, but I think you can work your way around it. If that’s not possible, you can always swap it for another one and create a real beast.
Whether you make some modifications or not, Fender Duo-Sonic HS is still a powerful beast. It combines many useful virtues and provides us with the versatility in every detail. Be it color selection, hardware, electronics or sound – each part of it is saturated with opportunities. It’s a perfect option for anyone who wants a shorter scale guitar, but doesn’t want to compromise any qualities in terms of sound. The price is relatively affordable, and I can assure you, this puppy is worth every penny. Try it out and let us know what you think. Good luck!
Click here to view more from Best Electric Guitars Under 500.