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  1. #1

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    Hi all, I’m definitely looking to make a purchase on my first tele soon. I’m curious if any of you have any experience playing great telecasters from companies other than Fender? I’m able to test plenty of fenders in my area but don’t have access to these brands. I’m also happy to hear about others. The ones I’m most curious about are Moollon, Kelton Swade, Suhr, and Pablo Valle.

    thanks!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    My favorite non-fender brand, by far, is Nash. They feel, sound, and play like vintage instruments, yet you can gig with them.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    My favorite non-fender brand, by far, is Nash. They feel, sound, and play like vintage instruments, yet you can gig with them.
    very cool. Have you tried any of the ones I listed?

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    My favorite non-fender brand, by far, is Nash. They feel, sound, and play like vintage instruments, yet you can gig with them.
    Are Nash guitars as good as Fender Custom shop guitars? They are more affordable than Custom shops but have similar reputation.

  6. #5

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    The tele thread here has a plethora of ideas and opinions about various tele builders, with the biggest problem being: there are too many good builders out there!

    Like any gear purchase thread, please tell us more about your desires, including style, specs, and most importantly: budget!! Non-Fender teles can run from $800 - 5,000, so ...

    Happy hunting!

  7. #6

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    I have played Suhr guitars. They are excellent. However, they don't feel vintage, to me.

    Fender Custom Shop instruments are nice, too. Still, IMO the Nash T-guitars have the best overall feel and sound. You just don't want to put them down.

  8. #7

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    I have a G&L. The L, as you may know, is for Leo Fender. I bought a G&L ASAT Special because I liked the pickups (low noise, hi-fi-ish) and I could get the guitar with a wide nut (1 3/4") and an ebony fingerboard. Oh, I like the bridge, too. It is a bit different from a Tele, but I like that. Some folks say it doesn't twang.
    Attached Images Attached Images Non-Fender tele brands?-sm_g4-jpg 

  9. #8

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    Do a Google search on each of those builders. They have very different reputations.

  10. #9
    I’ve googled, and reputations are one thing, I’m curious about personal anecdotes. I’m a jazz player, but play plenty of country and funk and rock. Looking for some versatility but I do mainly play jazz. Trying to keep it under 2k. I definitely want the classic pickup configuration and bridge. Other things I’m not set on. As a tele newcomer, I’m not too familiar with the small differences in sound and feel that are out there. I’ve been playing a Gibson 335 and PRS, haven’t touched much else in a year.

  11. #10

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    Nash are very nice although their heavy relics are very unconvincing imho. But the ones I played were great.
    I had a 1980 tokai te-150 (tokai te-80 with a b-bender) that was fantastic but i sold it because i never used the bender. Should have kept that one but it's now in the swedish guitar museum.
    A telecaster is a simple guitar to build and honestly, after some nut and fretwork there isn't much difference between my custom shop fender and my mexican fender road worn.
    My advise would be to just play some until you find 'the one' instead of focusing on who built it. The search is the fun part

  12. #11

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    Teles are tools. Play some used ones. They can take a beating!

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    Do a Google search on each of those builders. They have very different reputations.
    I strongly second Jim’s advice, lots of info out there and a fairly wide range reputation-wise. You mentioned mainly playing jazz and one person suggested looking into G&L sans twang. A friend of mine just got one and it’s a really solid guitar and the option to tweak some specs is appealing. I just went through a similar exercise searching for teles and played most of the brands/options that you and others mentioned. I ended up with a used K-line, which I love. YMMV of course. Happy hunting.

  14. #13

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    The only non-Fender high end tele I've played was a Nash. Very lively and resonant. Probably my next guitar purchase. I have played the G&L teles, but I wouldn't say they're high end. I think they're comparable to mid-range Fender teles.

    Two guitarists I greatly admire, Yotam Silberstein and Corey Christiansen, play Valle guitars and swear by them. They get a great sound with them. Lots of people play Suhr guitars and I've never heard anything bad about them, but Valle and Suhr are pricey. Dollar for dollar I think I'd be just as happy with the Nash.

  15. #14

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    was recently forced to sell my 2006 G&L Asat Classic Semi-Hollow for financial reasons, knowing i will regret this for the rest of my life.

    i've had a few upper-range Fender CS ones in my life, none of which could rival my G&L in terms of resonance, sustain and dynamic control... how the neck's cut, the shape of tuners' shafts, the über-tight tolerance of neck pocket... mechanically, it was from another planet, or galaxy (and sonically, too, consequently).

    the Asat Classic has a Tele-style "ashtray" bridge, though with six individual saddles that allowed me to use .012-.052 with wound G without the usual intonation guesswork of traditional 3-saddle Tele bridges.

    i am particularly sensible to background noise, and i've shielded any single-coil-equipped one of mine since ever... there, shielding a semi-hollow is quite the jedi exercise, so i opted to replace the nonetheless stellar G&L stock pickups with an EMG T-Set that could do it all, and do it great - and jazz tones, especially.

    it didn't reach 2.5kg on a scale, and needed to be tuned about once every two months (like it mattered).

    i don't think it was my own to be an alien specimen, for i see consistency in G&L's engineering choices - i own an Indonesian-made Tribute-series G&L Asat Special that is indeed quite vocal, too - at about a fourth or a fifth of the Fullerton-made beauty i'll cry forever, though not a feather-weight with its mahogany body... but i can't find anything middle-class even in it, honestly.

  16. #15

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    You would have to include Ron Kirn here. I have one of his Teles. He is rightly highly regarded for both his guitars' build quality and his accessibility and responsiveness to inquiries.

  17. #16

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    My tele quest ended with a Peavey Omniac JD (Jerry Donahue) model. It's by no means "classic" in that the 2 pickups, designed by Seymour Duncan with Jerry, have a 5-way switching system that allow you to add a stratocaster and a "woman tone" sound to the 3 standard tele sounds. IIRC it was about 1300$ in 2007, and is a beautifully built instrument neck with a soft V neck. If you're not chasing 100% authenticity, track one of these down used for a bargain.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    You would have to include Ron Kirn here. I have one of his Teles. He is rightly highly regarded for both his guitars' build quality and his accessibility and responsiveness to inquiries.
    Yep, I had my list narrowed down to a used Kirn, K-line or Mario Martin. Probably would have been happy with a good specimen from either of the 3. Certainly other good independent builders out there, those 3 just seemed to offer the best combination of high quality and reasonable price points. As someone mentioned, a tele is not terribly complicated and I can’t wrap my head around spending 3k + for one. I did track down the Valle website after reading it above, those look sweet. They seem to be the tele of choice for all the NYC cats and if it could make me play like Ed Cherry.............

  19. #18
    The Pablo Valle ones do look cool. I’m surprised more people haven’t mentioned the Moollon ones. They’re the choice brand for Gilad and Tim Lefebvre

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    You would have to include Ron Kirn here. I have one of his Teles. He is rightly highly regarded for both his guitars' build quality and his accessibility and responsiveness to inquiries.
    I think he works for Fender Custom Shop now?

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    I think he works for Fender Custom Shop now?
    From his website:
    For the next several months all new orders for custom guitars will be placed on hold.
    The reason is nothing more than I’m up to my eyeballs, and I’m not making any headway. That, coupled with the “bottlenecks” the COVID pandemic has caused in the supply chain, has created a snafu in workshop procedure so that it’s taking much longer than normal to complete a guitar.
    I appreciate your understanding, and will accept any order, with the knowledge it will not begin production until things get back to normal.
    Thanks
    Ron Kirn

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    From his website:
    For the next several months all new orders for custom guitars will be placed on hold.
    The reason is nothing more than I’m up to my eyeballs, and I’m not making any headway. That, coupled with the “bottlenecks” the COVID pandemic has caused in the supply chain, has created a snafu in workshop procedure so that it’s taking much longer than normal to complete a guitar.
    I appreciate your understanding, and will accept any order, with the knowledge it will not begin production until things get back to normal.
    Thanks
    Ron Kirn
    My bad... it's Ron THORN. Both he and Kirn post on TDPRI, and I got them confused.


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  23. #22

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    I'd look for a used MIM Tele. Or a Squier. Heck, my first Tele was a Squier Affinity, made in China and retailing for under $200, and it was a fine guitar. The pickups weren't the greatest but they weren't horrible. I gigged with it many times. Low end guitars are so much better than they used to be, it is really amazing. I think they often give the higher end guitars a run for their money if you're willing to not be concerned about the name on the headstock.

    I am always a little bemused by artisanal plank guitars. Maybe they've got something going on there that I just don't understand, but multiple thousands of dollars for a guitar routed out of a slab of wood and bolted together seems silly. But the people who buy them do seem to find value in them.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmoga
    Yep, I had my list narrowed down to a used Kirn, K-line or Mario Martin. Probably would have been happy with a good specimen from either of the 3. Certainly other good independent builders out there, those 3 just seemed to offer the best combination of high quality and reasonable price points. As someone mentioned, a tele is not terribly complicated and I can’t wrap my head around spending 3k + for one. I did track down the Valle website after reading it above, those look sweet. They seem to be the tele of choice for all the NYC cats and if it could make me play like Ed Cherry.............
    I've never played a Kirn or a Mario Martin but I've had some really good experiences with K-Line guitars.

  25. #24

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    My most-gigged guitar is a Warmoth Parts-Caster I put together in December of 1993 : a classic Tele design but with a hollow ash body. If there is a lonely-island guitar then this would be it, for me. OTOH I've played a few other "Tele" type guitars that were very tempting like a G&L ASAT (much closer to the original than the one above), a Tom Anderson Hollow Tele (great axe, superb build and playability !) and the Yamaha Mike Stern signature model. The Anderson would be close if a little above your budget (but certainly worth it), the others considerably cheaper.
    Attached Images Attached Images Non-Fender tele brands?-warmoth-tele-jpg 

  26. #25
    I am on to my second Nash and the only reason I sold my first one was unexpected bills. I doubt I will ever make that mistake again. My current is sky blue with 2 Lawlar Med. wind Imperial Humbuckers . I wanted a easy to obtain guitar that could get close to the Ed Bickert tone as possible.Humbucker Music in Tenn. will ship you one that you can try for 7 days and return if you dont like it. You can get them in Lite-Relic which is what I did and that makes it to me about like a 5 year old tele.I have owned 6 teles and the Nash is by Far the Keeper for me. They run about 2K and there is a good reason you dont see many used ones for sale.