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  1. #1

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    Last year I bought a cheap "Austin" Tele copy to see what the fuss was about. I'd always thought a Tele was better for country twang, and an archtop was it for me. But, with the neck pickup and the tone rolled off, I get a great fat sound, and it has a nice slim neck that plays easily.

    I recently did some comparison recordings, vs. my archtops, all with the same settings on a Jazz chorus 55. Also just listening with headphones through a Roland microCube.

    I'm surprised to discover that I actually prefer the Tele's sound! (at least lately)
    I was shopping for something better than my Korean laminate archtops, and now I'm thinking a real Fender is it.

    But there's so many choices! Squire, Mexican, US made, Shawbuckers, etc. I'd like to go stock, not a project. I don't like fat necks or high frets (some Teles have both, but I don't know which).

    The "American Performer" looks pretty sweet, though it has "jumbo" frets, likewise the Indonesian made "Special Edition", but I wonder if the Seymour Duncan's in it are too hot.

    Any good insight or help??

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  3. #2

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    I like big necks and I can not lie! So everyone is different.

    You have to trust your ears and hands. Try them out yourself. And don't be snobbish about imports -- there are a lot of good Made In Mexico Teles. Also, Teles are nearly indestructible, so don't be afraid of used Teles. If you are patient, you can resell a used guitar for what you paid for it, so there's no $$$ hit for trying out a used Tele.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  4. #3

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    Just a thought:

    It sounds like you really like how your Austin Tele copy sounds and plays, so why replace it? "If it ain't broken, dont fix it".
    "But if they all play like me, then who am I?" (Lester Young)

  5. #4

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    I took my Tele to the practice session with my new jazz band--we have a gig Saturday. (I was just giving myself a break from lugging archtops around.)

    To my surprise, the band loved the sound of the Tele. Well, alright! I LOVE playing the darn thing, of course. Put it on the neck pickup, turn the amp volume up, back off on both the guitar volume and tone, and Boom...you are in orbit.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldane View Post
    Just a thought:

    It sounds like you really like how your Austin Tele copy sounds and plays, so why replace it? "If it ain't broken, dont fix it".
    I'm not really replacing it, it's a handy guitar to toss in the car for a trip or to play quietly. I'm interested in something nicer for fit & finish, and quality of parts. It's also limited in range of tone adjustment- there's a sweet spot, then it quickly gets too bright.
    If I find one I really like, I may replace one of my archtops!

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGinNJ View Post
    Any good insight or help??
    I recently spent several days with a Fender American Elite Telecaster (my friend ordered one and it came in while he was out of town so he told me I could play it for a bit). Aged cherry burst finish and maple neck. It's pricey but it was one of the best Telecasters I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Now I want one. It's classic and modern at the same time. The noiseless pickups are amazing, and the neck is super comfortable (morphs from C to D shape).

    The finish got me, it's stunning.

  8. #7

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    I've got both an American Elite tele and a Made in Mexico Road Worn 50's. I've got to agree that the Elite is the nicest tele I've ever played, but it's not that much better than the Road Worn which is a great guitar and just as comfortable to play. And a lot less expensive.

  9. #8

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    It comes as no surprise that the tele is the only git model that has a sticky here :-)
    Regards,

    Gary

  10. #9

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    Now that I have a full sized keyboard handy I'd like to add that (IMO) there are many "tele" style gits made by other makers (both custom and production) that are equal in every measurable respect to the real deal.

    Unlike Gibson copies that miss the mark the Fender line seems to have been cloned better.
    Regards,

    Gary

  11. #10

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    Fender.com allows you to customize your tele (in a limited way) if you want the real US made guitar. Otherwise, reverb.com and ebay has bazillion used and new Fender teles to pick from based on your infinite preferences. I like the ones with mini humbuckers, the Nashville models and the limited run ones with piezo pickups.
    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by medblues View Post
    Fender.com allows you to customize your tele (in a limited way) if you want the real US made guitar. Otherwise, reverb.com and ebay has bazillion used and new Fender teles to pick from based on your infinite preferences. I like the ones with mini humbuckers, the Nashville models and the limited run ones with piezo pickups.
    I have a G&L ASAT (tele-style guitar). Their Made In America models can be custom ordered with lots of possible options. I went for a wide nut (1.75") and an ebony board without inlay. It's my main solid body.

    I don't know if you can find a current production Fender Tele neck that wide, although Warmoth and others would be happy to supply one.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  13. #12

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    Fortunately you are interested in a guitar that is most easily found in stores so you can demo the many variations. The issue I have with a lot of them is the price. You can assemble
    a better one out of parts for the same amount or less.

  14. #13

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    I expect that most posters here will likely sing the praises of their own favorite model. It's not like people generally give objective information in response to a question like the OP's. I think the OP could find similar information for all available Teles by working through the Fender website and then doing a targeted view of YouTube videos.

    Price matters - Fender Teles range in price from US$200 (some Squier models) to US$5000, maybe more; so you should have a price limit in mind. If you can spend, say, $1000, you'd mostly be wasting your time drooling over the $5000 models.

    Style of music matters - you wouldn't necessarily choose the same guitar for the Ed Bickert style as for the Roy Nichols style, though I think those players could swap guitars and still sound like themselves.

    [Just to get it on the table: My own preferences would lead me to the American Professional line - I like the necks the best of all the Teles I've played. I'd prefer an Alder body because I like that tone, generally, than Ash. If I bought a standard Tele I'd probably put a humbucker in the neck position. I think just now I'd lean toward the Deluxe with two Shawbuckers. That's the tonal spectrum I prefer, though I bet that's a minority opinion.]

    And once you have a feeling for which guitars are in your price and style ranges, there's no substitute for going to music stores and trying some. Buy locally if you can. If you can't find Teles to try locally, you'll have to make a leap of faith and just buy one off the Internet; make sure you can return it if you don't like it.

  15. #14

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    I had a long Tele phase and still have too many, one of which is an American Standard from 2011. Blizzard Pearl finish and a nice RW board. With it's none traditional Tele bridge it was considered half Strat in some circles but it's nice in it's own right. It's replacement is the American Professional Tele which has the 3 barrel bridge. I have been curious about that one. But I need another Tele like I need a hole in my head.

    Do you want a vintage vibe or a more modern vibe? And, of course there is price range as well. Some lower cost options are a used Baja (fat neck, MIM) or a Roadworn. Or 50s or 60s Classics also MIM.

    For a little more a 52 Reissue (the older AVRI 52s had several versions) or the newer American Vintage (aka Pure Vintage) 52s and 64s are highly regarded. The 64 Reissue looks cool as well. Or the discontinued 52 Hot Rod with a SD minibucker. The older 62 double bound reissue is nice too but it has a thin neck. Some I have mentioned are older models. Maybe a CS Nocaster. I had one of those I got for $1.5 k without a COA but sole it trying to be responsible ha ha.

    Really there are so many Tele options out there. Maybe ask at the TDPRI forum as well.

    I love many of the guitars I have learned about here. Jazz arch tops can induce scary GAS though. But Teles are excellent for sure. I still have my 73 Tele that was new when I was in high school hence my id..originally picked when I joined the TDPRI many moons ago. I still remember the revelation of how it cut through the stage mix the first time I used it.

    Good luck.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by 73Fender View Post

    Really there are so many Tele options out there. Maybe ask at the TDPRI forum as well.
    Those guys are the experts! But I bet what would happen is a million different suggestions
    Build bridges, not walls.

  17. #16

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    For me, I like my guitars to sound different from each other. I wouldn't put a humbucker in a tele for that reason.

    When I think I have two guitars that sound pretty similar, I end up getting rid of one of them.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  18. #17

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    "I don't like fat necks or high frets (some Teles have both, but I don't know which)."

    Based on this I think your best bet is to go for the vintage style 60's or 70's models. The [now discontinued] Classic series models have smaller necks and vintage style fret wire. I've also heard all the Classic Vibe Squier necks are relatively thin, though they might have more modern jumbo frets. Obviously the best bet is to get to a store and play a few and see what speaks to you.

    Like others have said, it's kind of hard to give specific help without knowing the budget.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dconeill View Post
    I expect that most posters here will likely sing the praises of their own favorite model. It's not like people generally give objective information in response to a question like the OP's. I think the OP could find similar information for all available Teles by working through the Fender website and then doing a targeted view of YouTube videos.

    Price matters - Fender Teles range in price from US$200 (some Squier models) to US$5000, maybe more; so you should have a price limit in mind. If you can spend, say, $1000, you'd mostly be wasting your time drooling over the $5000 models.

    Style of music matters - you wouldn't necessarily choose the same guitar for the Ed Bickert style as for the Roy Nichols style, though I think those players could swap guitars and still sound like themselves.

    [Just to get it on the table: My own preferences would lead me to the American Professional line - I like the necks the best of all the Teles I've played. I'd prefer an Alder body because I like that tone, generally, than Ash. If I bought a standard Tele I'd probably put a humbucker in the neck position. I think just now I'd lean toward the Deluxe with two Shawbuckers. That's the tonal spectrum I prefer, though I bet that's a minority opinion.]

    And once you have a feeling for which guitars are in your price and style ranges, there's no substitute for going to music stores and trying some. Buy locally if you can. If you can't find Teles to try locally, you'll have to make a leap of faith and just buy one off the Internet; make sure you can return it if you don't like it.
    One day I'll try one out, some cool finishes too. I'd say Fender did well with the new model. With the previous model (American Standard) the 6 saddle bridge is mounted in such a way that even if you wanted to mod it to a traditional 3 barrell bridge set up there is no good way. Many threads on TDPRI on that subject. But, like I said, I like my American Standard just fine. Bought it used like new for $750 and installed a 4 way switch and CS Texas Special in the bridge position (don't like that stock bridge pickup, the neck pup is ok and mixes well with the Texas Special. If I could only have one Tele though it would not be an Am Standard.