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Diffrence btwn: Fender California Telecaster & a Fat Telecaster?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Gflipunit, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Gflipunit

    Gflipunit TDPRI Member

    Jun 28, 2010
    Los Angeles
    What is the difference between a Fender California series telecaster and a Fender California Fat telecaster? And how much are these going for used if its good condition?

  2. Tdot

    Tdot Poster Extraordinaire

    Fat, has a neck humbucker.

  3. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

    Jul 4, 2008
    I am not familiar with any California Series Telecaster other than the Fat Tele. The press release below only mentions the FAT Tele, but the Wikipedia article seems to say there was a regular (not Fat) California Series Tele. The difference is the neck pickup, as the Fat Tele has the humbucker and the "regular" has a single coil.

    Here is the Fender press release re the California Series:

    Fender Unveils Hot and Spicy California Series Guitars

    July 11, 1997

    Mention California and, almost immediately, images of golden sunshine, orange groves, surfing and movie stars come to mind. Thanks to Fender Musical Instruments, get ready to add "guitars" to that list as the company has just unveiled its stunning California Series: the California Strat., California FAT Strat and California FAT Tele®

    "The California Series came about thanks to the joint efforts of Fender's Corona, California factory and its Baja California Norte, Ensenada, Mexico facility," noted Mike Lewis, marketing manager for Fender's electric guitar division. "The bodies and necks are shaped by Fender's craftsmen in Corona and subsequently hand-painted at our ultra-modern facility in Mexico. Final assembly, including the installation of vintage hardware and electronics, is then completed in Corona. All three instruments are marked by exceptional attention to detail, tonal quality and playability."

    For starters, the California Strat boasts a classic Strat design with Tex-Mex Trio pickups that pack enough firepower and spice to humble a jalapeno. The California FAT Strat features a U.S.-made Fender humbucker paired with two single coil Tex-Mex pickups in the neck and middle positions. "They're very punchy, but not over the top," Lewis explained. The California FAT Tele houses a U.S.-made Fender Tele humbucker in the neck position matched with a Tex-Mex Tele pickup in the bridge position.

    "That combination allows players a variety of tones ranging from stinging, sustaining leads and cool, clean single notes to vintage Tele 'snap'," Lewis added.
    Features common to each California Series instrument include an alder body, tinted maple neck equipped with medium jumbo frets, U.S. vintage hardware and electronics. All three models are also available in Black, Candy Apple Red, Brown Sunburst, Fiesta Red and Vintage White finishes.

    U.S. suggested retail prices, including gig bags, are: $799.99 for the California Strat, $849.99 for the California FAT Strat, and $849.99 for the California FAT Tele.

    For more information, visit their web site at

    and here's the info in Wikipedia:

    Fender California Series (USA)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Fender California Series (USA)
    Manufacturer Fender
    Period 1997—1998

    Body type Solid
    Neck joint Bolt-on

    Body Alder
    Neck Tinted Maple
    Fretboard Rosewood or Maple

    Colors available
    Fiesta Red, Candy Apple Red, Brown Sunburst, Black, Vintage White

    Fender California Series electric guitars were produced by Fender in 1997 and 1998.

    General features

    Vintage style “C” profile neck with a 9½" radius.
    21 medium jumbo frets.
    Vintage tremolo, tuners and 4 bolt neck plate.
    3 Ply WBW pickguard.
    25½" scale length.
    Fender Tex-Mex Pickups

    Manufactured from 1997 to 1998 by Fender, the California Series Stratocaster, Telecaster and bass models were a joint effort between the company's factories in Corona (California, USA) and Ensenada (Baja California, Mexico). The body and neck parts were made in the United States while the finishing and painting was done in Mexico before their final assembly and quality control in the US. (The neck is adjusted with 3/16" allen wrench rod suggesting that it was manufactured in Mexico.)

    Technical Information
    The Fender California Series Stratocaster guitars have USA vintage style tremolos and tuners and other hardware. The tremolo bridge spacing is the same as the Fender USA vintage bridge spacing of 2 3/16". The Fender California Series Stratocaster bodies are routed for a single neck/single middle/bridge humbucking pickup configuration and have a polyurathane paint finish. They do not have the infamous "swimming pool" rout. The single coil pickups used on this Stratocaster model are Fender Tex-Mex pickups, in the usual 3-single coil arrangement, or the 2-single coil and 1-humbucker in the bridge position ("Fat Strat") arrangement.

    The California Series Telecaster model also features vintage hardware such as Kluson-style tuners and a vintage bridge with six individual steel saddles. Medium jumbo frets make string bending and playability by far easier in contrast to the usual thin vintage frets. All Telecaster bodies of this particular series were routed for a humbucker pickup in the neck position. There were two options of the pickup configuration: Either a "Fat Tele" pickup arrangement with a Fender USA humbucker neck pickup and a Tex Mex bridge pickup or a Stratocaster single coil pickup in the neck position combined with a Tex Mex single coil bridge pickup. The serial numbers are in an AMXN + 6 digits format while the first digit represents the year of production. AMXN7***** means the guitar was manufactured in 1997.

    All Fender California Series have "Made in USA" on the headstock.

  4. scantron81

    scantron81 Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 29, 2009
    I think the california series was only available in that burnt orange/red color with maple necks. I could be wrong as I've just recently begun searching for these guitars.

  5. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

    Nope....I've had a few pass thru my hands that were Black.

  6. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    I have a California Strat in vintage white.

  7. Tdot

    Tdot Poster Extraordinaire

    Fiesta Red, reminds of of tomato.

  8. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

    Jul 4, 2008
    As mentioned above "All three models are also available in Black, Candy Apple Red, Brown Sunburst, Fiesta Red and Vintage White finishes."

    I've had black and sunburst California Fat Teles, both since sold. But still have the California Series Fat Tele partscaster I put together from one that had been parted out on ebay by the Stratosphere:




  9. Gflipunit

    Gflipunit TDPRI Member

    Jun 28, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Wow, thanks a bunch guys. This was more information than I expected. Now I know a little bit more about my guitar. I feel so lucky because It's kind of rare.

  10. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

    Jul 4, 2008
    The California Series Teles are highly regarded by many, though not by all. The only thing about them I dont like is the 6 barrel bridge. I finally replaced mine with a Glendale set.

    What is this guitar of yours of which you speak? Without pics, it doesnt exist . . . .

  11. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    albany, ny [not chicago]
    I owned two. Very cool guitars. I had one in Fiesta Red that was stolen (mediocre guitar anyway) and one in Vintage White that I loved, but I sold it because I wanted a guitar with a monstrous neck and at the time I couldn't afford to keep both.

    The difference between the two (in case you didn't get it buried in the Wikipedia info) is that the CA Tele had a Strat pickup in the neck.

  12. caytele

    caytele Tele-Meister

    May 26, 2008
    Grand Cayman,Cayman Islds
    ...also were available in light blue...i can't remember the correct name for the blue ..perhaps Daphne?...

  13. peachfuzz

    peachfuzz TDPRI Member

    May 11, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Just looked at one of these today. Played lovely. It had a five-way switch. Is this standard on these models?

  14. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

    Jul 4, 2008
    Yes, it is standard on the Fat Tele.

  15. vinman

    vinman Tele-Meister

    Feb 8, 2008
    long island, ny
    I had to go through my Frontlines but found this. I almost bought a strat.

    Attached Files:

  16. Fogboundturtle

    Fogboundturtle Tele-Meister

    Oct 5, 2009
    Burnaby, BC
    There is also the original FAT Telecaster that was produce from 1998-2003. I have an 1998 at home. Very good guitar.

  17. truthseeker57

    truthseeker57 TDPRI Member

    Nov 24, 2010
    Orihuela, Spain
    Hi everyone, sorry to hijack this thread, but I just picked one of these up on Flea Bay today reasonably priced, although it looks to have more of a butterscotch finish than the vintage white. I had been debating over several Tele's and this guy was the only one who bothered to get back to me. What is the advantage of the Glendale set, and what else is worth modifying (mine won't arrive for a while)? Purely for aesthetics I am planning to fit a vintage type circular string tree and change the white pick guard for a black bakelite one...
    Another question is that it seems this model is alder rather than ash, I presume that the combination of alder with a humbucker in the neck position should make for a great instrument for what I play, which is mainly Blues, Jazz and Fusion? - this leads to my next question regarding the bridge plate - on Jim Callaham's website he states that the brass bridges make for more warmth, but the carbon steel produces more bite and sustain - that confuses me a little, as I need both warmth and sustain....what do you guys recommend?

    Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving


  18. tharsh

    tharsh TDPRI Member

    Feb 21, 2012
    Austin, Tx
    great info BUT

    I bought one in 96, has no "made in xxx" decal. Also a different serial number format. does anyone have any info on prototype or transition manufacturing?



  19. ayetee

    ayetee Tele-Meister

    Feb 25, 2009
    Fat California Series in CAR

    Candy Apple Red

    Attached Files:

  20. Phatius

    Phatius Tele-Meister

    Feb 16, 2011
    Long Beach, CA
    I have the Cali Series Strat in CAR. Awesome neck. Great quality. Not too much into the tex-mex pups though.

    Had two chances at a fiesta red Cali Tele. Same Tele, different owners. sigh...

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