Fender Duo Sonic HS Review – 2020 Guide

Craig
| Last Updated: November 11, 2020

The original Fender Duo-Sonic was a popular student guitar in the 1950s. It features the classic offset design that most Fender guitars have while being more accessible, thanks to its shorter neck.

The Fender Duo-Sonic HS is a new take on this classic student guitar. Fender is making these versatile and accessible guitars in Mexico, and the Fender Duo-Sonic HS could very well be one of the best beginner’s guitars around.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Comes with a C shape and a slim tapered neck
  • Has a 24 scale length neck for lead playing
  • Duo-sonic single-coil neck pickup installed
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

Fender Duo Sonic HS - Pau Ferro - Ice Blue Metallic

PROS

  • Scale Length
  • Combination Pickups
  • Classic Fender Body
  • Versatile and Easy to Pickup

CONS

  • Sound
  • Short Scale Length

Specs

Type of Guitar: Electric

Body Size and Type: Duo-Sonic body, 42”

Number and Type of Strings: 6, .010-.046 nickel steel strings

Tonewood: Alder

Orientation: Right

Neck Size: 9.5” radius

Action: Adjustable

Scale Length: 24”

Color: Ice blue metallic

Weight: 9 lbs

Pickup Type: Combination

Pros

The Duo-Sonic HS features some improvements compared to older versions of the student guitar.

Classic Fender Body

The Duo-Sonic HS features a body design that immediately makes it recognizable as a Fender guitar thanks to the deep cutaways and horn shape. The cutaways are noteworthy since they facilitate access to the strings.

The guitar has a stylish design with its off-white plate and white controls. It’s available in different vintage colors.

The alder body feels lightweight and has incredible resonance. You can expect bright and balanced tones from this guitar, with an emphasis on upper midrange tones that makes the Duo-Sonic a versatile instrument.

Combination Pickups

The combination pickups are a feature that makes the Duo-Sonic HS unique. The guitar has two pickups. The neck pickup is a single-coil pickup, and the bridge pickup is a humbucker.

The three-way switch lets you use a single pickup at a time or combine the two for a rougher sound. The neck pickup delivers a sound that is warm and soft. Using the bridge pickup by itself results in a crisp and sharp sound.

Scale Length

The Fender Duo-Sonic HS is an ideal instrument for beginners because of its 24” scale. The short maple neck puts less tension on the strings, making them easier to bend and fret.

The shorter neck is more comfortable for children, teens, or players with small hands. Beginners will also appreciate the C-shape of the neck that makes the guitar easy to hold.

Versatile and Easy to Use Pickup

The Duo-Sonic HS is a guitar with a broad tonal range. You can play any genre of music by switching from one pickup to another.

The simple controls include a master volume and tone knob. The three-way pickup switch is very easy to master.

Overall, the Duo-Sonic HS is a fun and versatile guitar that will motivate students.

Cons

The short scale length and other features might not be ideal for everyone.

Short Scale Length

The 24” scale requires some getting used to if you learned to play on a guitar with a longer neck. Playing on a short neck can reduce the volume, and separation between the notes might feel less clear. If you have large hands, the scale length might feel awkward.

Lacks the Fender Sound

Fender has some iconic guitars like the Stratocaster or Telecaster that have a distinct sound. The Duo-Sonic isn’t a guitar with a sound you can recognize right away. The sound of this guitar can vary a lot, depending on the amp you use. It’s still an instrument that sounds great, but other Fender guitars have a more consistent and recognizable sound.

What Are the Components of the Fender Duo-Sonic HS?

The Fender Duo-Sonic HS delivers an excellent sound and pleasant experience thanks to the following components.

Body

The body of the Duo-Sonic HS is similar to the classic 64 Duo-Sonic II body. It features cutaways and uses alder for a lightweight feel with optimal resonance.

Neck

The guitar features a bolt-on maple 24” neck with 22 frets. The medium jumbo frets are ideal for beginners, and the C-shape combined with the 9.5” radius results in a thin neck that allows bending.

Bridge

The Duo-Sonic HS uses a fixed hardtail bridge. The string-through design delivers plenty of vibration and sustain.

Controls

The guitar has straightforward controls. You will find two knobs to adjust tone and master volume and a three-way switch for the pickups.

Strings

The Duo-Sonic HS comes with nickel-plated steel strings in .010-.046 gauges. These standard strings feel dynamic.

What Types of Music is the Fender Duo-Sonic HS Best For?

This guitar is extremely versatile, thanks to the combination pickups.

Single-Coil Pickup Genres

If you select the single-coil pickup, the Duo-Sonic HS will sound great for rock, blues, pop, and even country. You will get a sound with plenty of bite and attack and can use an overdriven amp to get a gritty sound.

Humbucker Pickup Genres

The humbucker pickup opens up new possibilities. Its thick and heavy tone is ideal for playing hard rock, metal, or jazz. You can use distortion more easily with this pickup.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Fender Duo-Sonic HS Suitable For?

The Duo-Sonic HS is a classic student guitar. The lightweight design and short scale length are perfect for children and teens. The C-shape design of the neck will help new players learn to bend the strings.

The combination pickups are also interesting since they allow you to explore a wide range of musical genres.

What Makes the Fender Duo-Sonic HS Stand Out From the Competition?

Fender guitars stand out thanks to their quality and incredible sound. The Duo-Sonic HS is no exception.

It’s a modern guitar with a vintage look and feel. It’s an entry-level guitar that makes learning to play fun and accessible to everyone. It’s also a very versatile instrument with its combination pickups and tonal range.

Fender Guitar- Comparison Overview

Fender has other guitars worth considering.

Fender Duo-Sonic vs Mustang

The Mustang is another classic beginner’s guitar from Fender. It features a similar 24” scale, but the headstock is slightly larger.

Also, the position of the cutaway to rest the guitar on your leg is a little different. The Duo-Sonic HS has a cutaway that will angle the headstock closer to your face when you sit down.

The Mustang also features different pickups. The pickups vary from one model to another, but the Mustang uses two single-coil pickups.

Fender Duo-Sonic vs Strat

The Fender Stratocaster is an iconic guitar with a unique sound and recognizable design. It’s an incredibly versatile instrument thanks to its three single-coil pickups. The five-way switch lets you select different pickup configurations to explore the full tonal range of the instrument.

While the Duo-Sonic HS is a versatile guitar with its combination pickups, the Stratocaster has a more impressive range. It also delivers a unique humming sound you can hear on many classic rock tracks.

The Stratocaster has a longer 25.5” neck and feels slightly heavier.

Fender Mustang vs Duo-Sonic 2016

The Duo-Sonic 2016 is the first modern iteration of the student guitar. Fender revisited the classic design and started production in Mexico. There hasn’t been a lot of changes to the Duo-Sonic design since then.

The Mustang line is more diverse. Fender manufactures these guitars in Japan and Mexico and has released more models over the past few years.

You can find the Mustang Special with a 24” scale, humbucker pickups, and a Stratocaster bridge. If you’re a fan of grunge music, the Kurt Cobain Signature Mustang would be an interesting pick.

Conclusion

The Duo-Sonic HS is the perfect entry-level guitar. Its lightweight design and 24” scale will help students gain confidence. The C-shape neck feels comfortable for children and teens who are learning how to play. The combination pickups unlock an impressive tonal range and allow you to explore many genres.

People Also Ask

Are you still wondering if the Duo-Sonic HS is right for you? These common questions might help.

Where Are Duo-Sonic Guitars Made?

Fender guitars are made in only a handful of locations, including the United States, Mexico, and Japan. The Duo-Sonic line hails from a manufacturing facility in Mexico.

Is the Duo-Sonic HS Hard to Play?

The Duo-Sonic HS is the modern version of a classic student guitar. Fender created the Duo-Sonic so that beginners could get an entry-level guitar that is easy to pick up. 

How to Care for a Duo-Sonic HS Guitar

It’s best to keep your guitar in a gig bag or protective case to prevent damage. Dust the instrument when needed, keep the strings in tune, and change the strings when they show signs of wear and tear. You should also clean the fretboard once every six months.

What is a Fender Duo-Sonic?

The Fender Duo-Sonic is a popular student guitar. It mixes classic design elements you will find on most Fender guitars with versatile combination pickups for a broad tonal range.

Famous Musicians Who Play a Fender Duo-Sonic

Kurt Cobain famously smashed several Fender Mustangs on stage during the 90s, contributing to making the Fender student guitars popular again. Jimi Hendrix played a Fender Duo-Sonic while touring with the Isley Brothers in 1964,  and David Byrne recorded two Talking Heads albums with a Duo-Sonic.

Craig

Hi there, my name is Craig. I took over Gear Savvy in mid-2019 and have had a blast writing content about music ever since. My role here is to steer the ship and ensure readers have the best information available for learning a thing or two. When I’m not working on content, I’m a husband and a dad. I enjoy spending time with my family, playing guitar, or messing around in my woodshop.