Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Thinking about getting boutique Tele ... worth it?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by holgaguy, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. TwangToInfinity

    TwangToInfinity Tele-Holic

    May 2, 2013
    if compelled to spend that level of money i would only get a used fender cs

    after i demo'd a whole bunch of them
    holgaguy likes this.
  2. Larmo63

    Larmo63 Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 1, 2018
    Timbuktu, Earth
    A boutique guitar is a good choice (IMHO) if you fall in love with it and it's sound, and you are going to keep it forever. A 'boutique' or 'off brand' guitar is tough to sell, a real Fender made piece will move much faster.

    If you're buying for the long haul get whatever, but for re-sale/long term value, Fender.
    Evil Funk and oldfish like this.
  3. holgaguy

    holgaguy Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 23, 2003
    The guitar I always play when just sitting around the house is a late 90s Danelectro. Used to gig with it, but it needs new tuners and the pickup selector switch is shot. Fun to play and I like the way it sounds.
  4. holgaguy

    holgaguy Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 23, 2003
    When I first started shopping for a Tele, probably 15 years ago, the local GC had two CS Nocasters; one reliced and one a Closet Classic. Both were in the $1100-$1200 range. Seemed like a lot of money at the time. Oh well.
  5. rhcole

    rhcole TDPRI Member

    May 12, 2017
    Petaluma, CA
    Take the price point where a company starts relicing guitars or offering fancy and unusual finishes. At that point they have run out of ideas for how to make the guitars better. Back down from those prices and look at the models just below that level.

    Those guitars are the best instruments that they know how to make. For Fender, that number is around $2k.
  6. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    I played a Nash over the weekend - it wasnt any better that either of my partscasters but cost 3X as much.

    Really, it wasnt as good - but I am making allowances for an unfamiliar setup.
  7. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 4, 2009
    No. Unless you are a full time musician and can take a tax write off on it.

    Your wife is right on this one, and you have nothing to gain by pissing her off with a ridiculously over-priced guitar.
    Bones, Tonetele and hellopike like this.
  8. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 3, 2015

    This. I’d take my wife and go on a nice vacation. $4000 can go a long way.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
    jannodude, holgaguy and rich815 like this.
  9. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    I have two Custom Shop Telecasters, each custom built to my specs. (team built)
    I also have two Custom Shop Wildwood 10 Stratocasters.
    They are the finest instruments I have ever played.
    In terms of quality, the are a notch above the 2012 era American Vintages series. I had 64 AV Tele and it was a great instrument. If had 9.5" radius and the taller frets of the Custom Shop I might have been satisfied.
    However, there is something to owning a guitar which has all the features, finish, etc that match your personal wishes. It's an individual thing. An psycho-emotional bond or whatever. It's yours. Built for you. This assumes one has the financial resources to make the investment.
    Also, there are many fine builders out there. I still prefer the tradition Tele or Strat headstock, the spaghetti Fender logo for the vibe.
    I am glad I have my Custom Shops. They were worth it to me.
    Evil Funk and Sinner1980 like this.
  10. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    Seriously? It's a Tele.

    Stop and think a minute.

    Are you going to have one built by a boutique builder or the CS? Guess what - you can't touch that instrument before you buy it. You might get it and think, meh.

    More sparkle is not something a boutique build gives. You'd be far better off haunting local shops playing every one you can get your hands on until you find the one that is special to you.

    But only after you conclude the ones you have are not special. Or couldn't be, with a really good setup and fret level. I think with a boutique/CS Tele, best case that is what you are paying for - final care in the assembly and finishing. You can get that from a setup on your existing Tele(s).

    I guess you can also get one spec'd to your desire - but keep in mind, until you play that unit when it's done, you won't know (a) if you really love those specs or (b) if that particular unit is special to you. Because resale is terrible on boutique Teles (and you take a huge hit on custom spec'd CS models) if the stars don't align and that particular unit is not special to you, you are screwed.

    Sell your Teles that aren't special. Have the one or two you love set up really well, and then play every one you can find if the one or two keepers in your stable are not "the one".
    elihu likes this.
  11. Old Tele Hack

    Old Tele Hack Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2017
    Custom gives you the opportunity to get something you specifically want. If you're buying to "collect" - the boutique panache is nice. If you're buying to PLAY? Then spending $$ on things that don't increase the guitar's playability/sound doesn't make much sense. If you know what you'd want in a custom/boutique guitar, and can't find that in an off-the-shelf offering? Custom/Boutique makes sense.

    I like my cheap guitars, and my nice ones. I'm really interested in finding one of the Dean Zelinsky LaVoce guitars to try out - they look REALLY nice, and at an excellent price point - and they can do some interesting custom offerings too.
  12. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 24, 2009
    Forget the name on the headstock.

    Go play as many as you can. Find the one that you can't let go of or put back.

    That's the one.

    Then find out how much it costs.
    Tonetele, MilwMark and brookdalebill like this.
  13. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 23, 2014
    For me, there are three reasons to go custom.
    1. Weight. I like my guitars in the 6.5-7 lb range and there are not a lot of stock Telecasters in that range (Sweetwater recetnly had two American Pros in that range, and before I could calculate whether I could swing one at that time, they sold).
    2. Color. I seem to like colors (e.g. shell pink) that are uncommon in the stock lineup (BSB excepted).
    3. Neck. For me, what separates the great from magical guitars is how effortless the neck feels. Shape, frets, etc. It's taken a while, but I think I'm finally getting to know what feels right. Once you have that nailed down, spending the money to get whole package is worth every penny.

    I think I'd go with a Kirn before spending 2x-3x on any of the others.
    Totally_Tod, Evil Funk and rich815 like this.
  14. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Jun 7, 2017
    Most of my solid body guitars are quite inexpensive, (less than $200) I find that spending additional money on acoustic or primarily acoustic instruments, and amplification is more rewarding.

    There are a wide rage of decent Fender style instruments in the 1 to 1.5K range but most of those have a less expensive mirror that are perhaps a quarter of the price, but give a significant % of the experience.

    If you have never played a nice arch top, or a all solid acoustic, I would suggest taking a few for a spin before splashing out several thousand dollars for a Fender style instrument.

    The OP also dosen't mention what he is using for a amp, it might be worthwhile to run one or two of his current guitars thru some different amps just to see what that's like..
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  15. Pickcity

    Pickcity Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Oct 12, 2017
    Atlanta, Ga.
    I have never owned a CS Tele, but they are the best sounding to my ears. I've played two different CS (A Tele and a Strat) quite often over the years and they were a cut above the rest...At least they were to me.

    I would like to have a CS, and have seriously considered one, but it is at least twice as expensive as an American professional. So I had to ask myself, "Self, is a CS more than double the price better?" The answer was a resounding no.

    YMMV. Many others feel differently than me, and that's what makes the world go around. I won't lie. I would still love to own a CS.

    As for boutique builders, I have no clue, but I am seeing some names of builders being dropped in here and I will be paying attention. I would love one of those as well.
  16. chemobrain

    chemobrain Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2016
    oakland ca.
    take a deep breath and 2 another and 3 one more for luck.I see guitars that set alarms off in my head .
    wonderfully appointed, finely designed works of luthiers art. Design continuity that is award worthy.
    and yet when I'm standing here in my studio apartment at the Derelict Hotel, recording a guitar track in to my DAW ,
    I not thinking about what others think of my guitar,I'm not looking at it up on it's perch like a museum piece, I getting the sound I want with ease, and today I'm happy with what was tracked.
    I'm playing a project guitar made from a Squier Mini Strat three new pickup that I chose with care. Good tuners and a pro setup by the Guys down at Broken Guitars.
    I covered the top with small Hell-o Kitty stickers in the most random manner that I could manage ( I forget that their there when I'm playing, I don't really notice them most of the time, though the Hell-o Kitty mojo real improves my playing and how well the guitar stays tune ( credit where credit is due, thank you Hello Kitty Talisman)
    tintag27 likes this.
  17. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    I built a custom Telecaster for a true maestro. Some would call it "boutique" as some aspects were unique. I started with a really great grained Ash body, only one curve and looked very much like Springsteen's guitar or Keef's " McCawber"- had it professionally sprayed.
    Then he wanted a very slim neck 19mm. (0.75" ) at the first fret and 21mm. (0.82") at the 12th.I shaped it in the Modern C style.
    All Authentic pots/switch as per Fender, a 3 saddle Fender Bridge ( mine that I was keeping for my own dream guitar_, a Black Guard ( 5 screws ) and Gotoh tuners. Tonerieder Classics Alnico 111 pickups. It turned out to be a beautiful guitar and sounded great through a 60's Fender amp ( can't remember the model).
    I asked him not to comment on it for a couple of days and then I rang him. He described it in one word- "Phenomenal"
    Now that was worth it for him, and I did charge as it was more that I usually put into a guitar.
    If you plan to have a boutique or custom built guitar you should not do so unless you get everything YOU want and DON'T plan on flipping it. It has to be a keeper.
    It also helps the builder a great deal if you know EVERY detail you want.
    My dream build is an Ash Thinline with a 62 pickup in the bridge, Widerange in the neck, authentic pickguard ( elongated ), maple neck, vintage tuners- but I won't make it with the idea of flipping it.
    If you have a sound, shape, feel you know and want- go for it -custom built rarely deliver $$$ on resale. You get it for yourself to enjoy.
    We have a builder here in Adelaide, Steve Salvi, who has built unique boutique guitars but they are for professional musicians who know exactly what they want. He has worked in Denmark St. and for Santa Cruz- but the cost of living was too much in their locations. Here he owns acres of land and has his own mini- factory. Again- he'll build you what you want- but don't expect resale profit on the thousands you will pay.
    Then, there's always the Fender Custom Shop.
  18. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2017
    Near Philly
    I've never spent more than a grand on a Fender - I've played a bunch but the only MIA I ever owned was a mid-70s mocha brown strat I bought in about 1980 for $400. I've played some significantly more expensive MIA and didn't find much difference from the higher end MIM models. My Robert Cray is a MIM and I've never played a strat that sounded as good to me. And the only one that played even a little bit better was a Clapton, which was all about the neck. Someday I may try to stick a Clapton neck on it and see if it changes the sound at all. If it doesn't, that'd be my lifetime guitar.

    I've spent boutique money on one guitar - a PRS 594. The humbucker guitars that came before and after that were both Ibanez semi-hollows in the $1100 price range, both made in China. The PRS was made about 100 miles south of me in Maryland. I bought it used for about $3K but new it would have been $4200. The Ibanez Scofield model, to me, plays every bit as well as the PRS did. I slightly preferred the 10" radius on the PRS to the 12" on the Ibanez, but I also slightly prefer the ebony fretboard on the Ibanez to the rosewood on the PRS. Both neck profiles are sublime feeling to me. They both play like buttah! The fit and finish on both are impeccable. I've tried to find anything on the Ibanez that I would say is sloppier than the basic perfection of the PRS and I can't find it - the Ibanez is also as perfect as I can detect. To the extent that there's a difference it's in the complexity of the sound. I'd say the PRS is somehow more harmonically complex, there's some bloom to the notes that I don't think I've ever heard in another guitar. When you play a chord you can somehow hear the whole chord AND each individual note clearly. I don't get quite those same sensations when I play the Ibanez, but OTOH, the Ibanez has a level of semi-hollow mojo that I like just as much. Bottom line - I'm glad I had the PRS however briefly (I had some real comfort issues playing it based on the location of the leg cut, but that was my problem, not the guitar's fault). I know what a really high end boutique money buys you and it ain't nothin, but it's really diminishing returns above that $800-1200 quality/value sweet-spot. There's a difference that I can detect when I play them back to back, but it's nothing I'd ever notice playing the "lesser" instrument without the boutique model there to directly compare it to. Having done it, I wouldn't do it again. The Ibanez gives me every bit as much pleasure as the PRS did - more because I can play it comfortably for however long and I could only play the PRS for about 10-15 minutes before fatigue and sometimes back pain would set in.

    I can't imagine I'd ever spend boutique money on a Fender, which is mostly just parts. I might customize one with a perfect neck and pups I liked more, but there are plenty of Fenders in the $1000-1500 price range that play as well as any $2000 and up version I've ever played. And frankly I doubt I'll ever "upgrade" from my MIM Robert Cray other than maybe swapping necks as an experiment. It's my favorite strat ever and I'm a strat guy at heart.

  19. dustoff

    dustoff Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    May 23, 2005
    Glenview Illinois
    I went with Ron Kirn. MUCH better than ant CS I've ever played.
  20. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Well OP, what is your definition of "better" anyhow? I guarantee that the fancy ones don't sound any better than the cheaper ones, at least if you're willing to spend $50 on replacement pickups in SOME cases.
    Looking better is in the eye of the beholder, so no comment there. Playing better - a fancy one is more likely to play great right away and a cheaper one is more likely to need a very good setup and fret work, but once that's done it's a piece of wood with little metal bars going across it no matter what you paid. If you have really specific desires - like for instance I want a 25" PRS scale neck on a tele, with a flipped control plate and a B Bender - then going full custom / boutique makes sense if you're not so handy. But just asking "is it better / worth it" isn't really enough info to get a good answer.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.