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Nocaster vs. Gatton vs. Hot Rod tele... fun day :)

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by mojocasterman, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. mojocasterman

    mojocasterman Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2006
    There's this mom'n'pop store downtown Portland Maine and today, as I was driving by it on my way back from a business meeting, I decided to stop by and see what they have. Well, it turns out they had plenty of gear that I would love to bring home.

    First I plugged in a Fender Nocaster


    The fattest neck known to a tele, but in a good way. The pickups were clear as a bell. A fantastic guitar throughout. The finish on the body was to die for. The neck was a beast but comfortable at the same time. Definitely a guitar I'd love to own. The price tag was north of $2300, which is about $2299 more than I had in my pocket, so needless to say she's still hanging on their wall.

    The second guitar I tried was a Danny Gatton tele. Complete with the fake diamonds as dot markers on the side of the neck, and the Barden pickups. The neck was one of the most beautifully figured necks I have had in my paws in a long, long while. Birdseye everywhere, it was almost a distraction while playing. Simply stunning. The balance on that guitar was darn near perfect. The cubic zirconia stuff on the neck is as cheesy as it gets and something I wouldn't be able to keep. The Barden pickups were very cold, for lack of a better term. All notes shimmered perfectly, but somehow it was too clinical sounding if that makes sense. Fantastic pickups, but not for me.

    The last guitar I tried was an American Vintage Hot Rod '52 Telecaster.


    Holy mother of God that's one righteous guitar. It comes with a mini bucker from Seymour Duncan in the neck, and that thing had TONE for days. The neck was thinner than I normally care for, but so well shaped that it was very comfortable. The balance between the neck and bridge pickups could have been better, but I am being awfully picky. THis is a fantastic guitar throughout. The finish was spotless, and the guitar was perfectly set up. Of the three, I figured that I would want to bring the Nocaster home, but the truth of the matter is that the hot rod is the one that kept calling my name. This is an incredible guitar, and if you have a chance to try one out, don't pass. Grab it right that minute!
  2. Sleph

    Sleph Friend of Leo's

    Dec 30, 2006
    just had a look on the fender price list... that vintage hot rod looks pretty exey....considering the only real difference between it and a few similar models is that SD mini.....I'd rather have a fatter neck.

    Also noticed the Nocaster is Nolonger in the list.
  3. GuitarJonz

    GuitarJonz Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Mojo, was it a new Gatton tele? I remember when Barden was MIA, Fender tooled up to make the new Bill Lawrence designed dual-rail pups, since Bardens were unavailable. AFAIK, Fender is still using the new Lawrence-design Fender rails in the Gatton teles, so what you heard might not have been Bardens. I wonder if they will eventually go back to Bardens?
  4. Telehackster

    Telehackster Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 5, 2006
    Check the Custom Shop price list. The Nocaster is on p.29.
  5. sidneystreet

    sidneystreet Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 7, 2005
    I am seriously jealous! I sure wish I could try out those guitars back to back. The Nocaster and the '52 Hot Rod are both calling my name at the moment.

    As for the Danny Gatton model, are you absolutely positive that it had Joe Barden pickups? Fender did switch to Bill Lawrence pups in the Gatton tele in recent years.
  6. Guitar Louie

    Guitar Louie Tele-Meister

    Feb 13, 2007
    Danny Gatton tele, wow never saw one of those. That would probably be my keeper tele.
  7. RockinCarl

    RockinCarl Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 21, 2005
    I'm tellin ya- In my opinion, the Nocaster and the Danny Gatton model Tele's are two of the best Tele's Fender ever made- the quality is so high on them, and you'd hope so with the prices they're sold for! I own one of each, and unfortuently, they're the only necks that feel comfortable to me- so I'm broke. :lol:

    I never had a chance to check out a '52 Hotrod, but I hope I will soon... Whats the neck like on those? PLEASE tell me they're thin... like I said I'm broke and can't afford another one. :eek: :lol:
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2007
  8. markothefish

    markothefish Friend of Leo's

    Sep 3, 2004
    Greenville, Rhode Island
    I am seriously in love with that American Vintage Hot Rod '52 Telecaster. I'd love to have one, If I ever get enough coin to build one it will be very similer to that . What store was this in Portland ?
  9. BrutherBill

    BrutherBill Tele-Meister

    Feb 28, 2007
    Northern Illinois
    I'm not loaded with the funds, but I highly doubt I'm getting out of 2007 without one of those hotrod teles. I just love 'em (second post tonight saying that). I know if I get a chance to play one and its a keeper (good setup, made on a day they had donuts and starbucks at the Fender factory)...I'll probably throw down an buy it. To me it's a close to perfect as production can get.

    One that note, none of the guitars of this thread would get kicked out of my bed for eating crackers...
  10. uncletele

    uncletele Tele-Meister

    Feb 2, 2007
    enola, pa
    I just compared the '51 Nocaster and the Gatton two weeks ago. Bought the Nocaster. The Gatton had the BL pups and sounded good, but not for me. The Nocaster is PERFECT!
  11. Jellecaster

    Jellecaster Friend of Leo's

    Dec 12, 2006
    New Hampshire, USA
    Mojo - what is the name of this place and where in Portland is it? It sounds like it might be worth a drive up from New Hampshire if the weather is right!
  12. mojocasterman

    mojocasterman Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2006
    It was at Buckdancer's Choice.

    As for the question about the pickups, I can only go with what the sales guy told me. I have no idea whether they were BLs or Bardens... either way, they weren't for me :)

    The nocaster was fantastic, no question about it. The only negative was that along the frets - all of them - there was a little buildup of some gooey something. I assume it was nitro from the neck finish... it wasn't a problem while playing, but it was a bit unsightly for a guitar of that cost.

    Realistically, you can't go wrong with any of those guitars. It's just that having played them for about 20 minutes each, my personal order of preference was:

    1. Hot Rod
    2. Nocaster
    3. Danny Gatton

    They were plugged into the same amp, by the way. A fender Tweed bassman reissue. I didn't change any of the settings on the amp while I switched from one guitar to the next. Maybe tweaking the amp would have been beneficial to the Gatton tele's overall tone.
  13. mojocasterman

    mojocasterman Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2006

    Bro, if you do come up, let me know when! The first beer is on me :)
  14. nasonm

    nasonm Friend of Leo's

    Mar 25, 2003
    Buckdancers is my favorite show in the state. They're always real nice and have no problem with you plugging anything in (from a $100 squier to a $3K Gretsch).

    I bought a Godin Radiator there and have since gone there a few times a year for fun! (it's a 2 hr drive for me)

    I highly reccomend them!
  15. Telehackster

    Telehackster Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 5, 2006
    I hear you loud and clear, BrutherBill! I've decided already that by the end of the year I'll have either a Nocaster or Hotrod '52 (once I get enough cash saved up and figure out how to sneak the guitar into the house).

    For some reason, once I start thinking in terms of the Nocaster it's almost as though I've committed myself to that price; as a result I catch myself wondering, "One NOS Nocaster or the Vintage Hitrod '52 plus a MIM 60s Tele?" Realistically, the '52 is much closer to my budget (but still exceeding it at the moment), and it would be far easier to slip one guitar into the house than two.

    It would indeed be very nice to play each of those guitars back-to-back as mojocasterman did. Thanks for the thread, by the way.
  16. mojocasterman

    mojocasterman Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2006
    You're very welcome. I had no expectation when I walked into the store. I couldn't believe that cool guitars they had! After that, i felt compelled to share the experience :)
  17. Telehackster

    Telehackster Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 5, 2006
    I am very pleased that you shared this. One of the many nice aspects of this forum is the willingness of folks to share their thoughts and experiences this way.
  18. mojocasterman

    mojocasterman Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2006
    Thanks for the kind words. Living in Maine, even Southern Maine, we don't always get to see the cool gear right away. For example, I only saw my first Baja Tele a week ago or so... and it was a disappointment. So seeing those three guitars right there and having the opportunity to do a head to head comparison was like a gift from above :)
  19. johnspierce

    johnspierce Tele-Meister

    May 7, 2003
    Denver, CO
    I love the nocaster... best sounding Tele I've ever picked up. Just can't get along with a neck that thick though; I wish they would offer it with a couple of different neck profiles a-la-G&L. After breaking in my 52Ri neck, it's my favorite guitar. Everytime I think I can get used to a huge neck I buy a guitar with one and just can't get used to it.

    Actually, my all time favorite neck was on my 52 Tele Special (guitar just like the one at the top right of the TDPRI website). 52RI specs except for a soft v-shaped neck like the JD Teles. STUPIDLY sold it!

  20. Cottage

    Cottage TDPRI Member

    Nov 25, 2004
    Great White North
    Has anyone tried a Jimmy Bryant? I may have a chance to acquire one in trade, but I don't know much about them. Apparently they have nocaster pickups. The cheesy tooled pickguard overlay can go though!
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