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  1. #1

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    I've never owned a Tele (or a Tele-style guitar). My only guitar for a long time now has been an Ibanez Artcore AF85. Nice solid guitar. I like it. Play it with flatwounds. But the cutaway is shallow and I'm a big guy. I need more access up the neck.

    I'm thinking a Tele could be the way to go for me.

    But as my dad used to say, "I've been wrong before." So I want something low-end, so if I'm disppointed it won't be a great loss. Thinking of this as a Christmas present for myself.

    Ideas? Suggestions? Warnings???
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    You can't go wrong with a Squier Classic Vibe! Great value for the money.
    Could beat a more expensive mexican standard.

  4. #3

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    yes i agree about the squiers... usually good bang for the buck..and many many different models to choose from...pick the features you prefer...body wood, pickups, fretboard (rosewood/laurel vs maple), nut width....and try some out..they are readily available cheap- new and used!!!

    another tele type to consider is g&l tribute line teles...g&l was leo fenders company...so they have good pedigree...the tribute line is the asian made line, but qc on them is very very good...not as readily available as squiers but equally impressive..esp for a budget guitar


    luck and have fun search..tele's are great all around guitars...and they sound killer with flats too!! haha

    cheers

  5. #4

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    The Classic Vibe 50 and the G&L Tribute seem very comparable - anyone have insight into the differences from a jazz playing perspective? Are both fairly easy to upgrade pickups for example? Happy with heavier type strings? I too am looking for a tele style on a budget for evil jazz purposes.

    Will

  6. #5

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    My tele is the Squier classic Vibe tele. I have it set up with round wound 10s, so I don't have it as a jazz set up. Also, I am not trying to get a traditional jazz sound out of it. I do have a hollow body guitar that I use with flat wound 12s that's for my traditional Jazz sound.

    My way of thinking is I want my tele to sound like a tele, no reason to go for a traditional jazz sound on it because I already have a jazz box.

    My Squier tele has been my most played guitar for this last year.

    I get a lot of 60 cycle hum at my house and have found that I won't play a guitar that has too much hum. Because of that both my Squier tele and Squire Strat didn't get played much until I changed the pickups and got fender noiseless Gen 4 pickups put in. That quiets them down pretty much to a level of humbuckers. So Mark, you might consider that obstacal if you're in a room that is subject to 60 cycle hum. I don't think there is a squire that comes with noiseless pickups, however there is a Mexican deluxe tele that does. ( and there are models of the American much more expensive teles that come with noiseless pickups).
    Last edited by fep; 11-15-2019 at 08:45 PM.
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    Frank (aka fep)

  7. #6

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    My first Tele was a Squier Affinity. Under $200 new when I bought mine. Pretty good fit and finish, sounds and plays like a Tele. I gigged many times with it. I did swap out the pickups and electronics for Dimarzio Area Ts, but that was due to hum rather than sonic deficiencies.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  8. #7

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    Used Squier Classic vibe, or if you can spend a little more, used 60's classic would be my first choices, but theres so many great affordable teles...is there anywhere local you can play a bunch?

    Man its gonna be fun to bring you over to the tele side.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  9. #8

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    since mark mentioned warnings..i will give him a few..when it comes to some squier teles

    the nut width can be narrow...1.6" on affinitys ...(a personal preference..some not bothered)

    the necks are new wood..and the fret ends can sprout with the change of seasons (temp & humidity)..an easy fix...run a sandblock up and down or have your luthier do it... ( a problem not just limited to budget guitars at this point!)

    lastly some of the parts cannot be exchanged easily...the bridges on some cannot be switched for vintage style tele bridges...also some are only toploading not string thru body (jim campilongo style)....the essential pups, tuners and electronics can all be changed easily tho

    on the tele discussion forum (tdpri).. the fender lim ed. bullet is currently getting very good reviews... 129$

    also the affinity, c mentioned ^, is great bang for the buck for a bit under 200$$ and less discounted!...alder body...with many cosmetic options to choose from...caveats mentioned ^..

    and thats the bottom line budget squiers!!!

    cheers

  10. #9

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    I have a G&L tele copy I'd be willing to part with. It has been modified with a VV CCRider pickup, which required enlarging the neck pickup hole in the pickguard, if that's important to you. I can supply the original pickup if you want it, but I don't have another pickguard. They're not hard to buy, though. Like you, I wanted to try a tele and found a good deal. I'm underwhelmed. My archtops are better, at least for me. PM if you're interested.

  11. #10

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    Thanks for all the info, guys!

    I'll wind up with something. My God, I think it's been 15 years since I've played a solid body guitar! (That will probably take some getting used to.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  12. #11

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    I recently bought a 50s Baja Telecaster with the beefy neck and can’t stop playing it. Hardly strummed another guitar in weeks. I paid a premium to buy a 2008 in excellent+ condition from a trusted shop on Reverb that I knew would not exaggerate condition or setup, but if you can get one used for $600 I think it’d be well worth a try-out.

    I have or have had other Tele-like guitars with different scale lengths / P90s or CCs or MFDs /different bridges but the classic configuration of 25.5” scale length and the plain ol’ Tele pickup is, IMO, what makes it a Tele.

  13. #12

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    Like you, Mark, I had not played a solid body electric guitar, or any electric guitar for years. Closer to 40 years in my case! I got interested in the telecaster last year and discovered a head-spinning number of models. So it's helpful to have a constraint like price.

    Two things I did come to realize after playing several telecasters and owning a few: I much prefer a darker color fingerboard for visual reasons, and the single coil pickup for sonic reasons. YMMV, I offer this only as a way to help filter the choices.

    Keep us posted.

  14. #13

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    One more vote for a used Squier Classic Vibe. Some seriously bang for the buck guitars!

  15. #14

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    What's your price range? So many Teles out there at all different price ranges.

    I've tried a few of the Squires and have not liked them.. hard to quantify for me and I know there has to be good ones out there as there are plenty of fans.

    Assuming you are buying used..in the $600 or so range, as already stated, Bajas are great..fat necks if that's what you like. Or a 60's or 50's Classic, Roadworn, even a MIM Standard..found in the less than $500 range (but they have a Strat type bridge so you will lose some of that Tele pixie dust FWIW..if I only had 1 tele it would have the standard 3 barrell bridge). All those are made in Mexico models aka MIMs.

    If you have a Guitar Center nearby you could find a used one shipped in (check out their used gear site) and get 45 days of no stress trial period..easy returns. Or your local Craigslist can be great as well.

    Once again, price range would help. Good luck.

  16. #15

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  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by 73Fender View Post
    What's your price range? So many Teles out there at all different price ranges.
    Good question.
    As this is an experiment, I'd prefer to spend only around $200, but I could go higher if it seems like a good idea at the time. ;o)

    I prefer butterscotch blonde coloring. After that, sunburst and black come next. (Red and lime green do not attract me.)

    A maple neck. (I had one on a Strat years ago and liked it.)
    Medium jumbo frets. (Not a dealbreaker but a strong preference.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  18. #17

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    Mark, I'd suggest you go to a music store and sit down with four teles, an american made, a mexican made, a squire and a squire infinity. The Squire Infinity is the least expensive at $200, you might be surprised and like that one. I got a Squire Classic Vibe 50s for around $300 and compared to an American Made that was $1500 it was an easy decision for me. The Squire Classic Vibe 50s was just too close to the American made in sound and feel, I liked it just as much and way better when considering the price.

    Also, I found this video that might be interesting to you in helping evaluate a Fender (strats but same kind of thought process). BTW, at the end of the video he mentions his number 1 guitar is an '85 squier strat, that made me smile as my squier strat is the same year plus or minus a year which are the Japanese squiers. Come to think of it... wow, I've had that guitar for over 30 years!

    Last edited by fep; 11-16-2019 at 12:26 PM.
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    Frank (aka fep)

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    since mark mentioned warnings..i will give him a few..when it comes to some squier teles

    the nut width can be narrow...1.6" on affinitys ...(a personal preference..some not bothered)

    [...]

    lastly some of the parts cannot be exchanged easily...the bridges on some cannot be switched for vintage style tele bridges...also some are only toploading not string thru body (jim campilongo style)....the essential pups, tuners and electronics can all be changed easily tho

    [...]

    also the affinity, c mentioned ^, is great bang for the buck for a bit under 200$$ and less discounted!...alder body...with many cosmetic options to choose from...caveats mentioned ^..
    Yes, the Affinity's neck is narrow- barely 1 5/8 and maybe a bit light of that- and just slightly chunky. Much to my surprise it doesn't bother me at all, even though my favorite neck is a 1 3/4" Warmoth. The neck is also startlingly white against the dark butterscotchy body; the interwebs indicate this can be effectively darkened with brown Kiwi shoe polish to good effect. It's a thin and dry feeling satin poly that is pretty comfortable and fast. The body finish is a very thick poly, almost dipped rather than sprayed. BTW the body thickness is closer to Original Leo Spec at 1 5/8" instead of 1 3/4. It is a toploader only, so if one wished to replace the bridge that would have to be taken into account. The bridge is a heavy chunk o' steel and the saddles are smooth and heavily plated. The pickguard is not interchangeable with US or MIM Teles. The control plate is metric dimensions for the pots and switch, but a regular Tele plate fits fine.

    It's less twangy than most Teles, at least that's the case with mine, but for jazz that works out OK IMHO. The tuners are actually quite good, no thought of changing those.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  20. #19

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    At $200 I think you have no choice but to go with one of the cheapies - Squire or Affinity. If you start liking it you can upgrade the neck easily enough with something from Warmoth from their in-stock shop. Roasted maple and you don’t even need to finish it. There are a ton of other alternatives besides Warmoth, too. I have always considered Teles to be the classical guitar equivalent electric guitar. You gotta have one. The only question is how much will you want a customized one versus one that you won’t want to mess with. Jump in the pool. The water is warm!

  21. #20

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    Welcome to the Bright Side....
    Best regards, k

  22. #21

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    If you are willing to increase your Tele budget a bit, I'd recommend checking out a G&L Tribute ASAT or Blues Boy. They can be found used for under $400 and are top quality instruments for the money. Guitar Center 'used' has a bunch from $329 and up listed online currently.

    Good twang hunting!

  23. #22

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    I have played many teles and G&Ls over the years. Your budget is understandably small, so too will be your choices. The good news is that when Fender got the formula right with quality components, the really good offerings are rock solid. For example, IMHO one of the best teles (after American Standard) was the Highway 1. Great thin finish that ages quickly. Modernish specs (nut width and radius). And there are fairly inexpensive, while having quality components throughout.

    Best of luck and let us know what you get!

    Cheers,
    Ben

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Mark, I'd suggest you go to a music store and sit down with four teles, an american made, a mexican made, a squire and a squire infinity. The Squire Infinity is the least expensive at $200, you might be surprised and like that one. I got a Squire Classic Vibe 50s for around $300 and compared to an American Made that was $1500 it was an easy decision for me. The Squire Classic Vibe 50s was just too close to the American made in sound and feel, I liked it just as much and way better when considering the price.

    Also, I found this video that might be interesting to you in helping evaluate a Fender (strats but same kind of thought process). BTW, at the end of the video he mentions his number 1 guitar is an '85 squier strat, that made me smile as my squier strat is the same year plus or minus a year which are the Japanese squiers. Come to think of it... wow, I've had that guitar for over 30 years!
    Yes, thanks for that vid.

    I've been screwing with a no name strat for awhile now- just to learn a few things and never thought about tuner ratio!

    It's no wonder I can't get it to hold the needle after: fret re-dress, saddle swap (spring removal), Tusq nut replacement, endless claw adjustment!

    I'm off on a "pawn-shop rescue" just to see if I can turn a sow's ear...but I'm switching to Tele model...had it with tremolo..

    ...wasn't real happy with the news from neatomic tho..
    If you can distinguish between rehearsing and practicing...you're better than half way there!

  25. #24

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    Thanks again for all the info, guys. I'm going to get something before the end of the year (most likely around Christmas).

    I'll let you know what I end up with.

    Meanwhile, "keep them cards and letters coming in!"
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola