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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.


    Meet The Builders | Fender(R) Custom Shop

  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.

  27. #26

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    Yes and no. It depends what you want. I have a use MIM Tele with Vintage Vibe pickups. I like it a lot. One feel, one sound. I also have a Kirn Tele. I like it a lot too. Different sound, neck, etc. Definitely higher quality. Bought used, so I did not pay the much higher new-guitar price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    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.

  28. #27
    Oh yea I almost forgot. My second tele developed a vol. pot scratch so I had to drive a ways to get it cleaned.Bill Nash refunded me 30$ and was pleasant to deal with. Most likely rust developed while waiting in Humbuckers warehouse . They also Fender Custom Shop,Suhr,and K Line and more I think.I bought a Moog Theramin from them once and a 2rock amp.

  29. #28

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    I had a famous maker Tele. After a few years, the neck had done whatever necks do that would max out what a truss rod is supposed to fix. Very heavy guitar, with a very scooped sound. All in all, a pretty disappointing experience.

    Now I have a Fender MIM FSR Tele and a Vintera 50s Tele. Pretty happy with them.

  30. #29

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    I have a Traditions Jerry Reid. Three pups, gr8 neck, and deluxe all the way. My fave "tele".

    Non-Fender tele brands?-tradition_jerry_reid-jpg

  31. #30

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    Depends what you want... vintage style or modernised with useful features?

    I don’t think you can go wrong with a Suhr for the latter.

  32. #31

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    I play a 15 year old. Fender USA Deluxe. It’s a good guitar IMO...

    A student of mine brought in a squire affinity tele the other day, and quite honestly I was knocked out. Compared to what squier meant in the the 90s...

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach5G
    I had a famous maker Tele. After a few years, the neck had done whatever necks do that would max out what a truss rod is supposed to fix. Very heavy guitar, with a very scooped sound. All in all, a pretty disappointing experience.

    Now I have a Fender MIM FSR Tele and a Vintera 50s Tele. Pretty happy with them.
    i love the vinteras! The only thing I don’t like is the poly finish

  34. #33

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    Non-Fender tele brands?-img_2557-jpg

    My Danocaster. I string it with 11's. 6lbs 5oz. Very resonant and plays like a dream. Versatile too as I requested the pick-up configuration that way. Dan Strain does some of the most convincing distressing out there too.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes
    Non-Fender tele brands?-img_2557-jpg

    My Danocaster. I string it with 11's. 6lbs 5oz. Very resonant and plays like a dream. Versatile too as I requested the pick-up configuration that way. Dan Strain does some of the most convincing distressing out there too.
    After watching all the Ask Zac videos (by Zac Childs) on YouTube, I’ve decided that if I ever get a high-end guitar, it will be a Danocaster.


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  36. #35

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    Add me to the G&L crowd. I have four Fender Teles, but the G&L ASAT Junior II I have actually fits me better; the selector switch and control knobs are right where I want them! Two custom-designed P90 pickups make this one sweet sounding guitar!


  37. #36

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    Gotta go to the Suhr camp. Love his guitars. Here's my T-style...
    Non-Fender tele brands?-suhr-custom-t-jpg

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Fred
    Add me to the G&L crowd. I have four Fender Teles, but the G&L ASAT Junior II I have actually fits me better; the selector switch and control knobs are right where I want them! Two custom-designed P90 pickups make this one sweet sounding guitar!
    I like G&L. Sitting here playing my ASAT Bluesboy Tribute that I tweaked a little bit. Added in a H-90 custom wound by Pete Biltoft at Vintage Vibe Guitars and reversed the control plate (as well as removed most of the wood under the pick guard to make it easier on my back).

    Edited to add: I really wish this has a forearm and belly contour. But that’s why I’m in the middle of my ZacCaster build. Just need to design the pickguard and order the pickups from Mojotone.




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  39. #38

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    Gnappi: the Traditions Jerry Reid looks like a great guitar.

    alltunes: the Danocaster just screams vintage vibe.

    One more "T-type" worth mentioning: Peavey used to make a Steve Cropper model. I've only played one, but for a non-vintage style 'caster, it was an excellent, well-crafted "Tele." AND, Steve Cropper played it.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I play a 15 year old. Fender USA Deluxe. It’s a good guitar IMO...

    A student of mine brought in a squire affinity tele the other day, and quite honestly I was knocked out. Compared to what squier meant in the the 90s...
    I had a similar experience with a student and his Squire Strat. It was a very nice instrument!

    Wish I was a better teacher.

  41. #40

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    I'm seriously considering one of these Ibanez AZS2009H's

    Roasted neck, stainless steel frets and some fancy switching option, if you ever need that .. Tho I might grab the blue one.

    Thinking of keeping this one as a proper tele with 9s and either getting flats or at least going up in gauge on my current fender.

  42. #41

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    Looking at the prices of Danocasters and Suhrs, and I expect there are more, I must agree with this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    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.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    I'm seriously considering one of these Ibanez AZS2009H's

    Roasted neck, stainless steel frets and some fancy switching option, if you ever need that .. Tho I might grab the blue one.

    Thinking of keeping this one as a proper tele with 9s and either getting flats or at least going up in gauge on my current fender.
    I love the "banana" control panel.

  44. #43

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    Posting my DIY Cooper-tele for information sake: this is a (very) cheap built with MIC parts, except for the P90 at the neck, which is a Lollar. The body is mahogany and the top some cardboard-like MDF (!) with a thin mahogany veneer.

    The things sounds exceptionally good for jazz imho, inspite of the very low budget parts and materials.... for some reason cheap and low budget works very well with the tele-design....


  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Looking at the prices of Danocasters and Suhrs, and I expect there are more, I must agree with this.
    I can see the merit in this opinion. But I will say after owning several other high end boutique electrics (Collings, Don Grosch) the Danocaster felt like an old friend the moment I took it out of the case. The Danocaster hand shaped necks and the overall fee of the guitar oozes that of a well worn broken in instrument that has stood the test of time. Even though it's brand new.

    What about the new Josh Smith signature Tele from Ibanez. Some cool features.