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

Why'd Chuck not play a tele?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by neckradius, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    I've played with a lot of piano players and all of the decent ones could transpose from any key to any other key very quickly without any problems. Horn keys like Bb and Eb are very common and would not be an issue. A song like JBG is only 3 chords so it wouldn't be hard for any reasonably proficient piano player to transpose. Any piano player used to playing with different vocalists is also very used to transposing in order to accommodate the singer's vocal range.

  2. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2016
    Las Vegas, NV
    He had enough talent to write the "exact right" song at exactly the right time and ended up milking it till the end! Sure, near the beginning of his fame, he used that celebrity to "hone" his talent into writing a few more good songs and performed a lot with his entertaining (at the time) stage antics, but then became jaded and just wanted (and usually got) the $$$$! Is there anyone here who wouldn't like to be so lucky?
    R.I.P. Chuck,

  3. Allan 65

    Allan 65 TDPRI Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    I play a lot of Chuck Berry Songs on a Tele and they sound great no problem at all.
    Elvis did a version of Johnny Be Goode with James Burton using his Tele and its sounds great.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017


    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    I've seen several pictures of him with a Strat. Probably not completely opposed to a Fender.

    Saw one picture of Chuck, SRV and Keith. Chuck on a Strat, Keith on a Tele and SRV on a Les Paul.

  5. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    I like the theory that he found the Tele lacking the "bling" factor. Of course he could have pimped a Tele out with sparkly paint, etc.,
    but I suspect that like many of his generation he believed Gibson was "top of the line", more like a Cadillac than a Ford. After all, a
    Ford is still a Ford no matter how you paint it. As someone else mentioned, it's too late to ask him at this point.

    I know that he had a rep for being a bit of a jerk later in life. He may have always been a jerk. But here's some food for thought:

    1) Many people who are truly great at something are lacking in personality. It seems to often go hand in hand with the desire to
    focus on one thing at the expense of everything else.

    2) He probably got ripped off by the labels just like most artists of his generation. To have to be on the road when you could of/should
    of made millions of $$ would make almost anyone bitter.

    3) As an African-American he had to deal with daily humiliation, especially in the Jim Crow era. I would not judge a man until I walked
    at least a mile in his shoes. He had to walk many thousands of miles in those painful shoes.

    4) Many artists came along and essentially copied his moves and his music, but made lots more $$, partly because they looked different.
    That could make a man bitter as well. Keith Richards reached out to him, but I can see how Chuck might still be annoyed given that Keith
    is the embodiment of someone who was able to make millions playing "race music" because he looked different. Perhaps another person might
    have been more magnanimous and appreciated Keith's respect, but not everyone is a Gandhi or MLK, either.
    tonyj, t guitar floyd, twr1 and 24 others like this.

  6. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Dec 2, 2006
    The simplest answer is probably he started playing before the Tele existed and saw no reason to change from what he was used to.
    old guitar player and jimash like this.

  7. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    Did you buy him a Tele? He probably would have if you'd given him one.

  8. Frank'n'censed

    Frank'n'censed Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2011
    Parts Unknown
    It woulda been a Thinline & too much of a good thing!
    texastengu and Route67 like this.

  9. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 13, 2010
    Fullerton CA
    Short answer: Gibsons were "uptown". Fenders were "downtown". All the "First Guys" like Charlie Christian, T-Bone Walker, and B B King all played Gibsons, the most expensive they could afford. Fenders started out being big in Bakersfield, mostly associated with Country and Western, not exactly a black blues players' style. It's amazing to think all the seminal rock 'n' roll was made on essentially jazz instruments, but remember, back in the fifties, Fenders of any kind had only been around since 1950. Gibson had had an established brand for almost 100 years by that time.

  10. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

    Jan 14, 2017
    Right. I think Gibson started around 1890, but point well made.

  11. chiefline

    chiefline Tele-Holic

    Mar 18, 2014
    new jersey
    I just love how when he died people where so sad and sorry that such a great man had passed. Didn't take long for people to rip him apart with stories of what a horrible person he was. What a difference a day makes...
    howlin likes this.

  12. neckradius

    neckradius Tele-Holic

    Jan 17, 2013
    New York
    I don't think anybody was saying what a great man he was. He was notoriously difficult and nasty and everyone knew that. But he was the greatest and most important rock and roller of all time.
    RomanS and Alamo like this.

  13. Gary in Boston

    Gary in Boston Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2003
    I have seen photos with Chuck playing just about every guitar available in his prime years ( even a Tele).


    It would have been interesting to see hime with a .......... oh I dunno a Parker Fly or maybe a PRS or an Ibenez, a Jackson ?

    From a design stand point I think a Strat would have suited him pretty well if he had chosen to use one.


    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2017
    CFFF likes this.

  14. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA

  15. Teledelphia

    Teledelphia Tele-Holic

    Mar 12, 2008
    As a very famous Tele player once said "Trust the art, not the artist". Chuck probably played hollow and later semi-hollow Gibsons because he liked them; just like many who post on this forum prefer Teles.
    boris bubbanov likes this.

  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    His cherry 335 was really part of his whole "look". Why change success? Plus, when he got out of prison, he was trying to regain his popularity. Probably a smart move to stick with what made him a success.

  17. strat123

    strat123 TDPRI Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    District of Columbia
    I have heard that a lot of what was just said above was true. Although he had a wealth of talent he was or could be a very hard person to deal with.

  18. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    This is a point. He played Gibson before they invented the 335=45=55.
    old guitar player likes this.

  19. neckradius

    neckradius Tele-Holic

    Jan 17, 2013
    New York
    I've read that for the hail hail rock and roll movie, Keith brought one of those guitars pictured above and gave it to chuck and said we'll do this with all the original stuff and chuck said no, I don't want it. Eventually Eric Clapton saw it sitting there and asked Keith about it and Keith explained he got it for chuck but chuck didn't want to use it. Eric said well, it's too nice to just sit there, I'll play it. Indeed, that's the type of guitar EC plays in the movie.
    cmclayton101, jimash and black_doug like this.

  20. 2 Headed Goat

    2 Headed Goat Tele-Holic

    Jul 28, 2012
    Here & Now

    This along with sonic differences are probably the reasons. Could have been something as simple as size too. I read that Scotty Moore's first proper guitar was a telecaster but he didn't like it as he felt the body was too small.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017

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