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  1. #1

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    Hi,
    I am looking for a good-quality Tele for Charlie Christian-type sounds. Are high-end Teles really worth the money? If so, which ones? If not, what lower-priced Tele would you choose to mod to your taste? Thank you for your insights!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I have a Fender FSR MIM Tele. Reversed Bill Kirchen style switch plate. Pretty nice neck. One of these days I might install some compensating saddles and alnico pickups but it’s not pressing. $800 CDN or $550 US. There are days when I think I could sell the rest of my guitars.

  4. #3

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    Partscasters made with quality parts like Warmoth,etc. I have built several from scratch. Not really all that hard to do, just make sure the neck and body pockets have matching widths.
    Look on TGP for sale forums for good deals on used ones others have built as well. Around $500 to $1k

  5. #4

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    a tele has little to do with charlie christian...he was dead about a decade before the first fender solid...and to add a cc type pickup to a tele does not charlie christian make...

    its a combination of a huge number of factors...from pick to speaker...

    for low buck. you can pick up nice squiers these days for minimal $$...

    if you want something better, there's many guys out there...rick kelly, nash, kirn.jw black. etc etc...everyone has their favorites!...so so many

    find one you like the look of..and go from there

    cheers

  6. #5

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    Are you looking for a Charlie Christian pickup, and not necessarily Charlie Christian’s sound?

    If you like thicker necks, a used 1950s Baja Tele is an awful lot of Tele bang for the buck. Not so CC-like in its factory configuration, but a great guitar nonetheless.

    I have a custom built guitar that’s shaped like a Jazzmaster but has a Tele bridge and switching. The body is heavily chambered mahogany with a maple cap. There is a Vintage Vibes CC in the neck position and a VV humbucker-sized P90 in the bridge. I have never heard a solid body guitar thunk like an ES-175 like this one when strung with TI 12 flats. It’s uncanny.

    All this to say, I think a chambered mahogany Tele body with a CC pickup in the neck, through the right amp—maybe something in the tweed family—can get a very nice “classic” jazz sound, though maybe not exactly like Charlie’s actual sound.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Hi,
    I am looking for a good-quality Tele for Charlie Christian-type sounds. Are high-end Teles really worth the money? If so, which ones? If not, what lower-priced Tele would you choose to mod to your taste? Thank you for your insights!
    Charlie Christian played a hollowbody guitar to get his sound.

  8. #7

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    If you are looking for a straight up generic Fender Tele, I don’t think there’s much better value out there than a used MIM Tele from the 90’s.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    a tele has little to do with charlie christian...he was dead about a decade before the first fender solid...and to add a cc type pickup to a tele does not charlie christian make...

    its a combination of a huge number of factors...from pick to speaker...

    for low buck. you can pick up nice squiers these days for minimal $$...

    if you want something better, there's many guys out there...rick kelly, nash, kirn.jw black. etc etc...everyone has their favorites!...so so many

    find one you like the look of..and go from there
    cheers
    Good point. Maybe I should have substituted "archtop" for "tele" in my question. Maybe that's the better way to go. But for now, I am thinking in the general CC neighborhood. I like teles more. And CCs on a tele are not rare.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Charlie Christian played a hollowbody guitar to get his sound.
    Yes, I know. Maybe I should look for an archtop instead. But I like teles more. And CCs on a tele are not rare.

  11. #10

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    I have had a Squier Affinity Telecaster for I think about 12 years now. It was $180 new. I've played many gigs on it. I did eventually replace the pickups with noiseless ones and the electronics with better quality stuff, but the original pickups sounded surprisingly good. The neck is a bit under 1 5/8", so it is quite narrow but I find myself adapting to that surprisingly easily, given that I usually prefer a 1 3/4" neck. I periodically go look at more expensive Telecasters, but none of them seem to play or sound all that much better.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    Partscasters made with quality parts like Warmoth,etc. I have built several from scratch. Not really all that hard to do, just make sure the neck and body pockets have matching widths.
    Look on TGP for sale forums for good deals on used ones others have built as well. Around $500 to $1k
    I agree completely, if you want excellent quality at a great price.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 08-03-2020 at 06:09 PM.

  13. #12

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    Make sure you peruse the longest-running tele thread on the Forum for some great pics and ideas!

  14. #13

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    If you are going to modify it get a Squier Tele. Rout it out to your heart's content. The hardware can be swapped out for tonier ones for another $100 or so. The basic construction and wood used is sound.

    I like McNelly; not exactly CC Blade but nice nonetheless:


  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr
    Are you looking for a Charlie Christian pickup, and not necessarily Charlie Christian’s sound?

    If you like thicker necks, a used 1950s Baja Tele is an awful lot of Tele bang for the buck. Not so CC-like in its factory configuration, but a great guitar nonetheless.

    I have a custom built guitar that’s shaped like a Jazzmaster but has a Tele bridge and switching. The body is heavily chambered mahogany with a maple cap. There is a Vintage Vibes CC in the neck position and a VV humbucker-sized P90 in the bridge. I have never heard a solid body guitar thunk like an ES-175 like this one when strung with TI 12 flats. It’s uncanny.

    All this to say, I think a chambered mahogany Tele body with a CC pickup in the neck, through the right amp—maybe something in the tweed family—can get a very nice “classic” jazz sound, though maybe not exactly like Charlie’s actual sound.
    Thanks, Matt, I am looking for a classic jazz sound with an edge, and maybe through a tweed. Will look into Tele Baja.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by lukmanohnz
    If you are looking for a straight up generic Fender Tele, I don’t think there’s much better value out there than a used MIM Tele from the 90’s.
    That's the vibe I'm getting, thanks.

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    a tele has little to do with charlie christian...he was dead about a decade before the first fender solid...and to add a cc type pickup to a tele does not charlie christian make...

    its a combination of a huge number of factors...from pick to speaker...

    for low buck. you can pick up nice squiers these days for minimal $$...

    if you want something better, there's many guys out there...rick kelly, nash, kirn.jw black. etc etc...everyone has their favorites!...so so many

    find one you like the look of..and go from there

    cheers
    Thanks. I actually have a Kirn tele, bought used. Excellent guitar, would not change those pickups.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    Make sure you peruse the longest-running tele thread on the Forum for some great pics and ideas!
    I have started that, but it could be a long-term project!

  19. #18

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    I found a '52 reissue on reverb a few years back for $850 I think, best money I've ever spent
    I love the neck, and tone on this one... it's been played, and isn't perfect, but it has so much mojo

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Are high-end Teles really worth the money? If so, which ones?
    I could be embarrassed to admit how many Ben Franklins were handed over for my Nocaster, but having had several Teles pass through my hands while shopping I can say without reservation that I love this guitar. And it took about 20 seconds after I found the guitar to know that. It's the neck profile, radius, frets and sound of the neck p'up with the old-style wiring.

    There are a bazillion variations out there - but you should know that real Telecasters have a 7.25" neck radius. I might accept 9.5", but the charm of the instrument for me begins to get lost beyond that.

  21. #20

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    Might be hard given quarantine and all, but there is no substitute for going into a good shop and trying like 20 different teles. Get the one whose neck melts into your hand. Everything else can be modified.

    I chanced upon a MJT thinline with a Fender MiM 50’s neck. The relic job had given this particular neck a rolled edge feel that was just right. I bought it on the spot for, like, 500 bucks maybe. Changed pickups and later refretted it to jumbo frets. It’s my favorite guitar. Closest production neck is the latest professional series.

  22. #21

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    If we’re talking bargains...My 50’s CV Squier sure packs a good value punch. $399 brand new and it feels and sounds great, to me. I’ve seen a few used ones locally go for $250 which is a screaming deal.

  23. #22

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    I have a Traditions Jerry Reid I bought for $600 it's the best tele I ever owned. A few years after I got it I found another in a local Sam Smash for $225 that's insane for what it is.

    If you can find one, they're real jewels.

  24. #23

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    As others have mentioned, CC of course, did not play a Fender.

    People do stick CC pickups in em...I dunno...tele neck pickups sound great. Why change?

    I can get great CC sounds with my stock tele pickups. Heavy strings, pick hard, lots of downstrokes. Use a tube amp, or whatever you use, crank it up so the hardest notes you hit have some hair to them.

    And swing dammit!

    Last edited by mr. beaumont; 08-12-2020 at 10:26 PM.

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    As others have mentioned, CC of course, did not play a Fender.

    People do stick CC pickups in em...I dunno...tele neck pickups sound great. Why change?

    I can get great CC sounds with my stock tele pickups. Heavy strings, pick hard, lots of downstream. Use a tube amp, or whatever you use, crank it up so the hardest noyes you hit have some hair to them.

    And swing dammit!

    You're probably right. Too much time spent on equipment, not enough on playing. Time will tell. I like your thought about pick hard, lots of down strokes ( I assume you mean that, correct?). I have switched to mostly down strokes paying Django music as well as CC. I also pick too hard. Are you saying this could be a plus at last?

  26. #25

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    Yes!

    And yes...my phone updated and autocorrect is out of control. This piece of shoot doesn't think I ducking curse anymore either. Son of a batch.

  27. #26

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    I‘ve heard good reviews of Baja Teles and 50‘s type Squiers. I guess they‘re good basic Tellys to start.
    If you surrender to the twang you‘ll find something better later...

  28. #27

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    Look into G&L they are excellent quality for the price made in USA!!

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick71
    Look into G&L they are excellent quality for the price made in USA!!
    The budget line of Tribute guitars are made in Asia. A USA built ASAT starts at $1450.

  30. #29

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    the g&l asian made tributes are great bang for the buck!...very good qc...neck pockets are really well done...no loose necks

    g&l also has the great mfd pickup...which was leo fenders baby...almost p-90 ish...great pup!



    cheers

  31. #30

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    Another G&L advocate here. Their custom shop quality at assembly line pricing is hard to beat. I've owned at least one or more of their Tele (and Strat) versions over the years, and have settled on a Korina solid body Blues Boy with a Duncan Phat Cat (humbucker sized P90) in the neck. It's not a CC, but as close as I'll ever get to that vibe. I've never tried one of G&L's Tribute line of imports, so there's that.

    Try one and see if you prefer Fender, G&L or even others. It seems most builders include a Tele of some sort in their product line.

  32. #31

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    I agree that they are great for the price. Or, at least they were. The last time I got a G&L was 2008. I got an ASAT Deluxe. A very nice guitar that I enjoy playing. However, I have no experience with more recent stuff they have made. If I was looking for that kind of guitar, I would certainly consider G&L

  33. #32
    Thank you all for your excellent comments. I bought a sort-of partscaster: white-blonde Classic 50's Telecaster with a Baja tele maple neck. It came with home-made pickups I am replacing. I will have the finished product in a week or so. I will show you what it looks like and tell you how I think it sounds.


  34. #33

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    That ^^^^ is a great choice I love the Baja neck and the 59 Classic body. Perfect.

    I was coming here to point out the Baja in the For Sale section that looks really nice.

    Congrats on what sounds like a great choice.I love Teles, there were stages when it is all I wanted to play. Got my first in a high school trade (in 1973 hence my used id) it cut through the mix of a loud teen age band quite nicely. That was my first impression.

  35. #34

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    Try this thread for size. Squier jazz Tele with CC pickup

    Jazz Tele Venture

  36. #35

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    And just to whet one's appetite. ..

    Telecaster - Best quality/value for the buck-download-jpg

    Telecaster - Best quality/value for the buck-download-1-jpg

    G&L USA ASAT and CC pickup. Limited Edition .

    I really wanted one of those but they didn't cross the pond...

    Ahwell, made my own.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow
    And just to whet one's appetite. ..

    Telecaster - Best quality/value for the buck-download-jpg

    Telecaster - Best quality/value for the buck-download-1-jpg

    G&L USA ASAT and CC pickup. Limited Edition .

    I really wanted one of those but they didn't cross the pond...

    Ahwell, made my own.
    Sweet!! Never knew G&L did a CC.
    Found this sold one on Reverb. I would NOT have been able to resist this.


  38. #37

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    So the beauty as well as the problem, is the Tele is such an open platform on which to build your dream electric bolt on guitar
    It's a Hot Rodders Dream!

    I have 3 different versions from fairly traditional ash,maple neck, black guard w 3 pickups, wider fatter neck, mini hum neck, etc

    An Alder solidbody with comfort contours, SD Jazz neck humbucker, Warmoth Fatback Roasted Maple with Rosewood 1&11/16ths neck

    Finally a modded G&L Asat Super Mahogany Semi Hollow with a Musikraft wide/fat neck, Vintage Vibe Asat Custom Humbuckers, Gotoh 510 tuners

    Now I can't decide which one to play,LOL !

  39. #38
    As previously mentioned, based on the excellent advice here, I bought a sort-of partscaster: white-blonde Classic 50's Telecaster with a Baja tele maple neck. I had Vintage Vibe CC pickups installed.

    I really like how the guitar looks. The vintage white pickguard replaced a black one. The neck is ideal for me. And the pickups turned out even better than I hoped. I know Charlie Christian played an archtop. And nobody claims that CC pickups are exactly like the originals. But the sound is very much in that direction. It is thicker and fuller than with regular Tele pickups. Less of a range. But I can use the neck pickup without rolling back the tone. And I can even use the bridge pickup by itself. There is no icepick sound there. On a regular Tele, I would hardly ever use the bridge pickup alone for any type of music I play.

    .Telecaster - Best quality/value for the buck-img_0878-jpg

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    As previously mentioned, based on the excellent advice here, I bought a sort-of partscaster: white-blonde Classic 50's Telecaster with a Baja tele maple neck. I had Vintage Vibe CC pickups installed.

    I really like how the guitar looks. The vintage white pickguard replaced a black one. The neck is ideal for me. And the pickups turned out even better than I hoped. I know Charlie Christian played an archtop. And nobody claims that CC pickups are exactly like the originals. But the sound is very much in that direction. It is thicker and fuller than with regular Tele pickups. Less of a range. But I can use the neck pickup without rolling back the tone. And I can even use the bridge pickup by itself. There is no icepick sound there. On a regular Tele, I would hardly ever use the bridge pickup alone for any type of music I play.

    .Telecaster - Best quality/value for the buck-img_0878-jpg
    Congrats. That‘s a Squire classic vibe body or did I‘ve mixed up something?

  41. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan Eff
    Congrats. That‘s a Squire classic vibe body or did I‘ve mixed up something?
    The previous owner said it was an MIM Fender Classic 50s body. My research confirmed that to my satisfaction. I have played two or three Squires and I don't think this is that.

  42. #41

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    Which CC pickup is that and did it come with the pickguard or did you have to do it?

  43. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Ellis
    Which CC pickup is that and did it come with the pickguard or did you have to do it?
    Vintage Vibe CC pickup. It came with a pickguard I chose among a few options. You don't have to add the pickguard.

  44. #43

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    How does one determine on which hemisphere a slab body was manufactured without a "made in..." label?

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky
    How does one determine on which hemisphere a slab body was manufactured without a "made in..." label?
    Maybe they have DNA tests for Tele bodies? Seriously, I don't think it really matters - I see Tele necks and bodies advertised that I know were Chinese made but are advertised as Canadian wood. A lot of North American wood is exported (unfortunately) to the far east and comes back to us in finished form. I build most of my Tele bodies from (according to my supplier) African mahogany with curly/quilted maple tops from the U.S. so, what nationality are they, really?

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Vintage Vibe CC pickup. It came with a pickguard I chose among a few options. You don't have to add the pickguard.
    Thanks for the info! Didn't know Pete was providing pickguards. I really like his pickups and the CC shape is cool but cutting out that opening is a real challenge. Which magnets do you prefer? I usually order them with Alnico II installed and Alnico V as alternate but don't think I've ever used them - the II's sound great to me.

  47. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Ellis
    Thanks for the info! Didn't know Pete was providing pickguards. I really like his pickups and the CC shape is cool but cutting out that opening is a real challenge. Which magnets do you prefer? I usually order them with Alnico II installed and Alnico V as alternate but don't think I've ever used them - the II's sound great to me.
    Based on his recommendation, I also had Alnico II installed with V as an alternate. No reason to switch.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Based on his recommendation, I also had Alnico II installed with V as an alternate. No reason to switch.
    Yep, AlNiCo II for me too.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    The previous owner said it was an MIM Fender Classic 50s body. My research confirmed that to my satisfaction. I have played two or three Squires and I don't think this is that.
    The Squiers are usually more straight grained...that definitely looks like an MIM classic to me.

    I had one, sold it off when I downsized to 1 tele from 4...but it was a great guitar...

    And now I just screwed together another tele and I'm looking for a white body to marry to the neck I took off the most recent...ah, tele modding...just when I thought I was out...