The new 2102 American Standard Telecaster is awesome.
It has a tummy cut
It has a Custom Shop Twisted Tele neck pickup
It has a Custom Shop Broadcaster bridge pickup
It has a brass bridge plate
It has a no load tone control
It has a thinner finish
It has new colors
my vinyl record collection | updated 22 April 2013
I'll second the nomination for a used, USA-made G&L. If you like Teles, the ASAT is the way to go.
If you like the Strat body, then either the Legacy (vintage alnico SCs), Legacy Special (dual blade HBs), Legacy HB (bridge PAF), S-500 (Leo Fender's hot MFD SCs) or the Comanche (Leo's hot HB Z-Coil MFD pickups) could be your dream guitar for classic rock and blues. I like the powerful MFD pickups, and they work great with effects because they have a wide-range response, while maintaining clarity.
I can't speak highly enough of these guitars. I just don't think the Highway One can compare, in features or in quality.
If you're looking for a budget 2HB guitar, there are loads to choose from. A used Heritage or Hamer would probably be at the top of my list. I'm not really crazy about Guilds myself, but a Bluesbird or a Starfire might be doable at the top end of your budget. The top end Epi LPs are pretty good, and the Sheraton would be one I'd look at for a 335-clone. I like a lot of the Ibanez Artcore guitars, or go vintage and hunt down an Ibanez Artist--a Les Paul killer if there ever was one. Another brand I like is Reverend. I've only seen a few, but I've liked what I've played.
Save you pennies, get your ducks in a row, have the patience of a saint, and strike while the iron is hot. These are cliches, but when you're hunting for the right guitar on a budget, it's the best approach.
When you've had budget guitars for a number of years, you may find that your old instrument is holding you back. A quality guitar can inspire you to write great songs, improve your understanding of the Gdim chord while in the Lydian Mode, cure the heartbreak of cystic acne--and help you find true love in the process.
Or Gibson Studio 60's tribute, either LP or SG special with p90's. You can kinda hang with both the singlecoil crowd and the humbucker crowd with one guitar.