A Personal Guitar History + An Ode to the Telecaster

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by RYAN1987M, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. RYAN1987M

    RYAN1987M Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Introduction

    I was born in 1987, I’m thirty-one years old right now. Relatively young I suppose. But even I’m old enough that my very first guitar came from a Sears Catalog. This likely happened in the late ‘90s. It was a typical $100 no-name acoustic and it was, apparently, a real dog.

    I suppose I have my Dad to thank for instilling me with great taste in music. I remember Christmas, probably 1997 or thereabouts, and I wanted some sort of boombox. One that played CDs. I still remember Christmas morning and getting to open some CDs – Pet Sounds, Abbey Road, Music From Big Pink, Led Zeppelin II. That’s what I remember. And then I remember my Dad shooting me some line that unfortunately that was all for now, things were a bit tight and I’d have to wait maybe until my Birthday for some sort of CD Player. I honestly don’t remember being disappointed. Anyhow, later on that day I was asked to do some chores as we had company coming and what did I stumble upon? This massive Sony CD Player with dual tape decks and detachable speakers in our basement. Too big to wrap. I swear, if I can be half the man my Dad is, I’ll be doing pretty well in this life.

    Probably a year or so later, I do remember this strong desire to learn to play guitar. I was probably 11 or 12 years old. Naturally, as soon as I learned that it wasn’t easy and that I’d have to put in effort and practice, I pretty quickly abandoned my dreams of being a rock star. I don’t recall what happened to that first Sears guitar, but I hope that it no longer exists, haha. Anyhow, my aspirations to become a guitar player were dashed and I don’t recall giving it a second thought. I still enjoyed listening to Classic Rock all through High School…this in an era of mostly ‘gangsta rap’. But not once do I recall wanting to take another shot at guitar.

    A few years later, perhaps 2006, I was in my second year of University and I scored an awesome part-time job (paying about double what minimum wage was at the time). Anyhow, somehow this idea of playing guitar came into focus once again.

    2006 - Epiphone Les Paul Classic Plus

    I did a lot of research before buying my first ‘real’ guitar. And, although this wasn’t based on any facts, I assumed that everyone bought some sort of Strat-based Starter Pack for their first guitar. And I wanted to be different. So I walked to my local Long & McQuade and probably spent about $600 on the Les Paul and a Line 6 Spider III modeling amp.

    That poor Les Paul. But I learned so much! I remember the first time I thought it needed a string change…I found some sort of tool or large pair of scissors and simply cut all 6 strings in a single motion. Didn’t detune or relieve any tension at all. That stop bar tailpiece went flying and scratched up the top pretty good, haha. Who knew that they just float? I still remember restringing the three high strings backwards too (had to turn the tuners in the opposite way then what you’d expect). And then I remember breaking two strings pretty quickly. But I just wanted to play. And I kept on playing. I learned a bit about theory that day. What can I play with four strings? Where else can I find those notes that I was looking for on those missing strings?

    Eventually it became time for a change though. I still can’t look at a flame top without feeling a bit queasy (no offense to anyone!).

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    2008 - Epiphone Casino

    I felt that I wanted a second electric. And again, I wanted to be different. Still didn’t want a Strat. I’m not sure exactly how I landed on the Casino, but it was a very special guitar to me. I feel like I played it so much I simply wore it out. Near the end, even after a few pro set-ups, I just felt that it had lost some of the magic that it had once had. Maybe I was too hard on it, I’m not sure. It was a beautiful instrument though and I loved the sounds that I could coax out of it. My Casino was so good to me, for so long, but after a few years…it just seemed incapable of doing what it once did.

    A few years ago, I tried to capture the magic again and found an older MIK Casino, also in Vintage Sunburst. It just wasn’t the same as my first one though. I quickly flipped it.

    I found this picture…it was one of my first Facebook Profile Pics. I truly believed that the ladies would be beating down my dorm room door after seeing it. How wrong I was, haha!

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    2009 - CIJ Fender Jaguar

    I graduated from University and that little part-time job that I started in my second year turned into a full-time gig. Two weeks after writing my last exam and one week after turning twenty-two, I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines, for work, for five months.

    Not to stray too far off topic, but when I recall the kindness and warmth that my Filipino Colleagues showed me, I’m nearly moved to tears. Not to stereotype, but it seems like a musical aptitude is innate to Filipinos. One guy from work, Ronald, was the nicest guy that you could ever hope to meet. And we’d play guitar a bit together on our lunch breaks. I eventually learned that, when he wanted to play guitar, he had to save for about three years in order to get his first guitar. During that time, he’d study tab books. Can you imagine that level of dedication – staring at tabs without a guitar in your hands? I felt so guilty…when I wanted that first Les Paul of mine, I simply went out and bought it. Anyways, I remember playing guitar with Ronald and he’d sometimes apologize for not playing something the ‘right way’. He was such a natural and I was so envious. Maybe the way he played a song didn’t mesh with the ‘official’ tablature, but he could figure stuff out by ear! Just a true natural talent and an absolutely kind person. While in Manila, I picked up a locally made acoustic guitar and I was thrilled that I could leave it with Ronald…but I had to have another mutual friend help me with that because I knew he’d be too proud to accept it directly from me.

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    Anyways, back on topic…I decided to take advantage of my time abroad and see as much as I could. I used up all of my vacation time while away. I visited Thailand for a long weekend and took in beautiful Wats, a train ride over the bridge over the River Kwai, and ate the most delicious food you can imagine. I spent another long weekend in Vietnam. I loved Saigon, getting to see Pagodas, taking a boat trip on the Mekong Delta, and scraping my knees crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels. I took a whole week off for Japan. I saw ancient temples in Kyoto, climbed Mt. Fuji, and stayed in a Ryokan. I also did some guitar shopping in Tokyo!

    I knew that I wanted to pick something that I couldn’t easily find outside of Japan. And I was always drawn to the look of Jaguars. Truth be told, the thing sounded janky as hell, but I was so drawn to it. Matching headstock, block inlays, binding! Of all the guitars that have passed through my hands, I regret selling this one the most. It would’ve never been my #1…but what a special souvenir!

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    2012 - Fender Highway One Stratocaster

    My first Stratocaster, finally, haha. This started a love affair that lasted for years. Everything clicked and it felt so right. Position 4, quack, I couldn’t get enough!

    Funny how times change though. I loved Strats until I didn’t. I sure had some cool ones over the years. But one day, it was as if I woke up, and simply couldn’t stand them anymore. The middle pickup always in the way, the unnecessarily complicated bridge assembly that I never utilized, that annoying quack…and why can’t I get them to sound as good as my guitar heroes do?

    Telecasters

    My first Telecaster, probably around 2014, was a Fender Classic Series ‘60s Tele in Olympic White. I probably kept the thing for two months before flipping it. A Telecaster was the final major model of guitar that I hadn’t owned. And I hated it. It sure wasn’t as comfortable as a Strat. And the sounds…disgusting! A shrill and unusable bridge pickup and a muddy neck pickup. Why would I ever think to use those two knobs?

    It sure wasn’t love at first sight! Still though, that first experience must’ve nestled something into the deepest recesses of my brain. It didn’t come back to the forefront until 2017 or so.

    I decided I wanted to try a Warmoth build. And I also thought that a Tele would be a good place to start. And maybe I owed it a second chance. Also, during these last few years, guitar forums had ruined me. I sort of wish that I could go back to 2006 before I knew anything about different neck profiles, different radiuses, different fret sizes, different kinds of AlNiCo, nitro vs poly, etc. Simpler times.

    Anyhow, that Warmoth Tele did it for me. I was smitten…finally bitten by the bug. Now, my first PartsCaster was by no means perfect, but I learned a ton (including, ironically, that PartsCasters probably aren’t good for me).

    A Telecaster is truly a thing of beauty. Simple and complex, all at the same time. You could assemble one in an afternoon if you wanted, just takes a screwdriver, a soldering iron, and a few beers. Teles don’t lie! If you can’t do it on a Tele, well, you sure can’t use the guitar as an excuse. They force me to work a bit harder as a player…but the payback is absolutely worth it.

    I recently realized that I wasn’t playing anything but my Telecaster. I sold my Strat, I sold my Revstar…and I didn’t miss them one bit. Could I really get by owning just one guitar? Of course not! GAS is a fickle mistress. But now I have three guitars, three Telecasters. All different, but all familiar.

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    Conclusion

    I’ve probably owned 50+ different guitars over the past dozen or so years. Nine at one time was my record. I wish I could remember what they all were, I wish I had at least a picture of each one. What a journey it has been! It’ll be interesting for me to revisit this thread in a few years and see if any of it remains true. For today though, Telecasters reign supreme and I have no regrets.
     
  2. cleanheadsteve

    cleanheadsteve Tele-Meister

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    great story. i also had a crate v50 like one in ur picture. damn good sounding tube amp. mine was 1-12" but had a larger cabinet than most 1-12 combos and thus, a bigger bottom end. great amp

    Sent from my U452TL using Tapatalk
     
    RYAN1987M likes this.
  3. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Tele-Afflicted

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    Interesting story. I've been playing for 25 years and I still have an LP with 3 strings strung the "wrong" way :rolleyes:. 50 guitars, wow. Just did a count in my head - for electric 6 strings, I have owned 10 of which I still have 7. :)
     
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  4. LocoTex

    LocoTex Tele-Afflicted

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    Great story! You've come a long way on your journey.
     
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  5. NewKid

    NewKid TDPRI Member

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    I enjoyed reading your story. Thank you.
     
    RYAN1987M likes this.
  6. Sax-son

    Sax-son TDPRI Member

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    Yeah, its a story I can relate to. Back in the late 1960's, I was a Gibson guy all the way. Telecasters sounded way too wimpy to me at that time. I would have never considered one back then. However, as time went on, I bought a Fender Stratocaster and started to play that a lot. I soon became very fond of the Fender tone on decided to give a Tele another chance. It took me a little while to find one that I liked and eventually did. It was an early 1970's model just stock. I soon realized that I must of had my head up my @#$ back then to not realize the potential of this guitar. Fast forward to today and it is now my favorite electric guitar design. Very simple yet very well engineered. That's why it's still popular after almost 70 years of its introduction.
     
    RYAN1987M likes this.
  7. Bluetelecaster

    Bluetelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Great story!
     
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  8. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

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    Great story dude, really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting
     
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  9. RYAN1987M

    RYAN1987M Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    nomadh likes this.
  10. RYAN1987M

    RYAN1987M Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I'd definitely be curious if others were willing to share a bit about how their tastes in guitars have changed and evolved over the years. And bonus points for highlighting a few guitars that were especially meaningful along the way.
     
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