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Difference in Quality between early 80s and 90s Teles?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by shshsh, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. shshsh

    shshsh TDPRI Member

    Oct 13, 2017
    Hey everyone -

    Currently deciding between two black American Standard Teles. One is a '95, the other an '83. The '83 is a little more expensive ($1099, compared to $899 for the '95) but it was made before CBS sold Fender . . . basically I'm looking for something to push me one way or the other aside from the price as both guitars are in good shape.

    Thanks for the info!
  2. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 5, 2012
    South Louisiana
    I don't know much about the '83, but $900 seems high for a used '95 tele.
    But then again, I am a bargain shopper.
    Play them both. Buy your favorite.
    Don't look back.
  3. swampyankee

    swampyankee Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

    Feb 5, 2015
    Southeastern MA
    Not sure about the quality differences, although I did read on a forum that the early '90's Teles were crap (he might've been a troll). But as far as I can see, the difference is in features. I believe the '83 Tele had a top-loader bridge, where the 90's Tele had gone to the 6 piece string thru body affair. Also, somewhere in the early 90's they used the TBX tone control. You should be able to tell by turning the tone pot. If there's a detent at about the halfway mark, then it's probably TBX.
    Not sure about types of pickups in use in those years, but there may be likely the pickups aren't original anyway - especially if it was owned by a TDPRI'er. LOL
    Owenmoney likes this.
  4. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
  5. shshsh

    shshsh TDPRI Member

    Oct 13, 2017
    Thanks for the feedback. There was a an '88 at a local shop for a good price that I almost got until the tech realized whoever checked the guitar in had not noticed the truss rod was stripped and the guitar needed a new neck . . .
  6. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Stock 83 teles had a flatter 12" rad neck,,,, the 90's one would have the regular 9.5" rad. neck...

    one point of difference..
  7. shshsh

    shshsh TDPRI Member

    Oct 13, 2017
    is a 12" radius neck on the thinner side or no? The '88 I played today had a fairly thin neck, but the more recent models all have chunky necks, which a lot of folks prefer, but I'm definitely looking for something on the thinner side.
  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    The 83 should be basically the same guitar as a 60's with minor differences. If it plays well and has any fret left, I'd get it if you like vintage flavourings. The only thing needed for Trad Tele tone is a 250k tone pot. Basically once they went to two string trees Teles were unchanged from mid-70's on. A mid 70's Tele is almost the same guitar but regarded as semi- vintage and worth a couple g's for a goodie. You have to see if you bond with vintage frets and 7.5" radius.

    Nothing wrong with the 90's but it's an anodyne single coil guitar mostly due to the bridge and pick-ups. If you play more modern stuff and use effects it's arguably a better guitar. Some solid colour guitars had laminated bodies of many pieces of alder or poplar. Not necessarily bad, but they are, unfairly, not highly regarded - lots of good music made on them regardless.

    Play both - pick the one that plays easiest and sounds best clean - if you find the 83 ice-picky a pot change will mostly fix that.

    If you do make changes to the 83 keep all the bits.
  9. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Sep 20, 2005
    Kansas City
    True - the "real" 1983 would be the top loader bridge, a 21-fret neck, and a 12" radius.

    The first of the American Standards (from late 1986/early 1987) wound up using "E3xxxxx" serial numbers, but they have 22 frets, the 6 piece string through bridge, etc. as listed above. They did have the TBX tone pot from their introduction until about 1997 or so.
    2 Headed Goat likes this.
  10. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

    May 23, 2011
    Alberta, Canada
    In early 1982 the Fender company decided that in order to reclaim their former glory, they should build their guitars as they had in the early fifties. Using the same Fullerton workshops and many of the early tools and methods as they had done thirty years previously, they relearned how to make guitars that people were proud to own. This was the beginning of what eventually became known as the AVRI run of guitars, which continue to this day.

    The early 1982 teles from that period are quite pricey and are much sought after. They are generally regarded as fine guitars.
  11. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Sep 20, 2005
    Kansas City
    Yes and no - Fender had 2 (and possibly 3) Teles being made during 1982: the "standard" Tele was the same basic Tele with the specs they had been using since at least the mid-1970s and there was the '52 Reissue model that you describe. The first Fullerton-made reissues do carry a huge premium, but the "standard" Tele probably not as much (but they are going up in price these days). There may still have been the "Black & Gold" model - with the gold plated heavy brass parts like "The STRAT" - being made in 1982 as well, but I'm not 100% sure about that. The "standard" Tele would have been replaced by the top-loader "Standard Telecaster" we've been describing circa April 1983. They of course continued with the '52 Reissue model as well.
  12. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2008
    Standard Tele from the early 80's ?


    Heavy too !

    I've played plenty of 90's Am Std's and the lighter ones are great.
  13. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    I had a late 80s American Standard when I was a kid. I believe it was an '88.

    Nice sound, better wood and construction than what Fender is doing now. The neck was a solid C, none of the flat weird shapes of the later 90s (when the Ibanez/Kramer/BC Rich people switched for fashion reasons) and nice pickups (pups).

    The 83s are different with the top loader bridges but are actually nice guitars. I wouldn't pay a premium for one (although I'm sure someone would).

    Play both and decide. Oh, at $900 the American Standard is way overpriced (IMHO). I wouldn't pay more than $500 - $600 for one.
  14. bsman

    bsman Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 8, 2003
    Santa Clara
    I had a 95 Am Std, and it played and sounded good, but the darn thing was a boat anchor. If it hadn’t been so heavy, I’d probably still have it.
  15. dan1952

    dan1952 Friend of Leo's

    Jun 24, 2004
    Anderson, IN
    The 83's are VERY different from either the 70's Teles or the Am Std Teles from later in the 80's. Barely a Tele, in my opinion. Bridge pickup has no plate on the bottom, very flat fingerboard, top loading bridge. More like a Yamaha...
  16. srvbluezz

    srvbluezz Tele-Meister

    May 25, 2006
    My 97 Tele plus also weighs a ton....even though I love it, fender in the 90s did some questionable things. Swimming pool routes, 8 piece bodies with veneer tops and backs, and using less expensive poplar.
  17. Andy B

    Andy B Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Mar 16, 2003
    I have an '83 Standard Telecaster with the top loading bridge with Elite saddles. Yes it is a little different. It is a killer guitar that just gets better with age. My #2 Tele for over 25 years. #1 is my '71 which is another one of those awful CBS era Tele's.
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