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American Elite vs Vintera Modified

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by lgherb, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. lgherb

    lgherb TDPRI Member

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    Hello, I'm a lurker who seldom posts but I have a question regarding the tele models listed above.

    I'm trying to decide between getting either one of the Vintera modified models and the American Elites still available new in some shops.

    I've been scouting the used market for a Baja since before production ceased with the thought that the Bajas were somewhat ubiquitous and would be readily available in the $600-$800 price point. However, when Fender discontinued the Bajas, used prices jumped by about $200+ and availability became kind of scarce on the usede market.

    Used Bajas don't seem to be particularly good values at the moment when you can get a new modified Vintera for $1,000 that would be devoid of use scars.

    Now that the American Elite has also been discontinued there is still NOS available for about $1300- $1400 at some guitar shops.

    Given that there is "only" a $400 separation between these price points, I am wondering if it might make sense to take the plunge on an American Elite instead.

    The positives of the Elite as I see them are:
    • Hard shell TSA travel case included (~$200)
    • Generation 4 noiseless pickups ("better" is highly subjective)
    • Arguably smoother neck
    • Cherry Burst finish available (as well as other color options)

    The negatives of the Elite I see are:
    • Almost 50% more expensive
    • Lack of traditional barrel bridge
    • Arguably less desirable non-traditional neck (yeah, I'm a flake on certain things)
    Overall, I look at the differences here as differences between a "mid-range" guitar and a "lower upper end" guitar with not too big of a jump price wise.

    I'm not a huge fan of the limited color options of the Vintera modified teles and if I want to get a Butterscotch Blonde, the Vintera price jumps up to $1100, making the price diff between that and an American Elite even less.

    Out of the Vintera colors, if I had to pick one, I'd go with the Lake Placid Blue on the modified 60s Vintera.

    What I don't know is the difference amongst the pickups between all 3 models.

    What I'd like to get comments on are the different sound of the 3 different pickup sets, the different neck "feel" and playability between the different neck shapes and frets, and overall advice from those that have actually played all of them.

    Given the Covid-19 stuff I can't really get out to a store and play all of these (especially the Elite).

    Also, whatever I buy I will likely NOT modify it for at least a few years (example: I won't replace the bridge on an elite with a traditional barrel saddle anytime soon).

    Thanks in advance for any insight you guys can provide.
     
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  2. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, all 3 models have different pickups:

    • Vintera 50s Modified has Fender Custom Shop pickups - a "Twisted Tele" neck pickup (sounds more like a Strat neck pickup) and a "custom bridge pickup" - years ago they called it a "Broadcaster" pickup so it's wound like the earliest pickups that were pretty hot. These are the same pickups that were in the prior Baja 50s Tele and were also in the American Standard Teles from circa March 2012 until they were discontinued in 2016
    • Vintera 60s Modified has something they are calling "hot 60s pickups"
    • American Elite has N4 Noiseless pickups
    The necks are all 3 radically different as well - I've not played the Vitnteras; I know I didn't like the neck on the Baja 50s and the Vintera 50s Modified is the same; it's a fairly fat V shape. I also don't care for the C-to-D shape on the American Elites - I like the old Modern C shape best. What I don't know is how much thicker the Vintera 60s Modified neck is than the Modern C.

    I like the fret size used on all 3 so that's not an issue.

    I had a 2013 American Standard Tele for a while and just loved the CS pickups, which are the same as the pickups in the Vintera 50s Modfied; I think the N4s are okay, but I prefer regular pickups to the Noiseless. That being said I liked the N4s better than the previous N3s, SCNs or Vintage Noiseless versions.
     
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  3. logans_tele

    logans_tele Tele-Meister

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    Dude, that's a long post to read to get to your questions. For everyone else, here's what the OP is asking:

    What I don't know is the difference amongst the pickups between all 3 models. [Vintera 50's, Vintera 60's, American Elite]

    What I'd like to get comments on are the different sound of the 3 different pickup sets, the different neck "feel" and playability between the different neck shapes and frets, and overall advice from those that have actually played all of them.
     
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  4. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Tele-Afflicted

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    If you're looking at an American Elite as a last year model and you're ok with that then why not look at the MIM Classic Series 60s? It's the pre-cursor to the Vintera for a couple hundred less for the same reason that the Elites are less.

    Sent from my LG-H932 using Tapatalk
     
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  5. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Afflicted

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    Haha......

    TL;DR (To Lazy;Didn't Read)
    .
     
  6. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Howdy!
    I’m lovin’ my new-to-me Thinline Elite.
    Just sayin’.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  7. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Welcome to TDPRI. :) Best of luck on your search. I have a 2014 American Deluxe (renamed the Elite) and I love mine.
     
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  8. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    The Elite also has a compound radius fretboard; 9.5" on the lower fret end, 12 to 14 on the higher frets (I forget which). I personally don't like the compound radius; it is nice playing notes in the high frets, but if you play chords up the neck, it's not as nice. However, if I had one, I could get used to that.

    I have played a few Elites in stores - they are really nice. I guess it just depends on the specs you are looking for.
     
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  9. RobDaglish

    RobDaglish TDPRI Member

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    I have no axe to grind for these guys, but:



    Should give you a better feel for what each one has in the way of pickups. I didn't particularly like the Daphne blue of the 50s modified, but I didn't like the darker neck of the 60s modified... plus, I wanted the bigger neck, my hand cramps on the thinner ones for some reason. Also, I got a much better deal on the 50s mod than the 60s, which kinda settled it.
     
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  10. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Afflicted

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    Not sure about the modified 60s Vintera, but based on my Baja (which is more or less the same as the 50s Vintera modified) the big differences are the compound neck in the Elite vs. the chunky Baja neck. Necks are so subjective it's hard to compare. Compared to the Baja, the Elite neck feels a bit faster as you would expect with a compound neck and is quite comfortable, but thinner necks are more stressful on my hands for long term playing. Since I'm more of a rhythm type player, I don't really want or need a flatter neck up high.

    Pickup wise, to my ears the Elite pickups are a bit more traditionally voiced and sound fantastic which is what you would expect from a top of the line guitar. Personally, I don't particularly love noiseless pickups, they always seem a shade too polite for my taste, but again the pickups on the Elite sound great. I love the Baja pickups and the combination of a hotter Broadcaster bridge pickup with the Twisted Tele neck is a super versatile combination. To me, the Baja pickups don't sacrifice much in the way of traditional Tele tones and twang, but can flat out rock when you need to kick it into high gear.

    As you would expect, the fit, finish and colors are swankier on the Elites. With the binding, they're just beautiful guitars, much prettier than the more workmanlike Vinteras/Bajas. The Elite also has a lot of creature comforts compared to the Baja like a belly cut, cutaway heel, 22 frets, and locking tuners. My issue with the Elites was that you paid a steep premium for some relatively minor upgrades, but for $1,200 - $1,400 it's a much better value proposition.

    Back when you could get a used Baja for $600-$650 all day long it was a no brainer to me. Provided you're ok with the thick neck, the Baja was just a stupid good value. The modified 50s Vintera is priced fairly for what you get, but it's not the incredible value it used to be.

    This is an oversimplification but if you want a swank, faster, prettier and slightly more modern tele get the Elite. If you want a super versatile, but more workmanlike tele, get the Vintera. Both are great guitars in my opinion.
     
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  11. lgherb

    lgherb TDPRI Member

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    Dude!

    I listen to album sides on vinyl and not songs on a digital playlist. Lol.

    (Apologies for my long windedness...it might be genetic.)
     
  12. lgherb

    lgherb TDPRI Member

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    Honestly, this is what frustrates me. As little as a year ago I'd see multiple Bajas within driving distance at this price point. Now that they are discontinued/rebranded, both used and new prices are a slight jump up from what they were and if I jump I see the Elites as kind of the "brass ring".
     
  13. Irondog

    Irondog Tele-Meister

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    I have a suspicion the elite telecaster is not really what you would end up liking even though it's a very very nice guitar. I really enjoyed the neck, especially the satin finish.

    I think 1 of the Vintera types will give you great pleasure.

    here's some additional points to consider.
    I owned the elite for about 2 years, side-by-side with a American special. my Fender Elite caused me to sell my 3 Les Paul's they became useless. Using just a slight bit of overdrive the Fender Elite became almost a perfect Les Paul, beautiful picking dynamics crisp attack no mud.great harmonics. The American special gave me that slightly vintage twang thats so fun, with great and even better picking dynamics.

    vintage types have cleaner twangier abilities and subtle pick attack.
    they also only have 21 frets. Which is a big deal for me I like to play a lot of Pink Floyd solos that require that 22nd fret. but many people don't need it.
    The elite telecaster is leaned heavily towards the modern side.....22 frets. modern bridge.. Immunity to fluorescent lights. I would even say the elite is a very good guitar for stage performing, kind of the reason Fender designs humbucking single coils.
    and reasonably good at stretching into vintage territory.
    however the picking dynamics are not quite as good as a true single coil, but close.


    so that's a consideration. what is your playing style what do you expect the guitar to do song wise.

    The elite really comes into its own with a slight bit of overdriving gain, slightly more rock 'n' roll

    The VinTerra's are going to give you some of those more clean twangy tones (barrel saddles) as well as doing pretty well with some rock 'n' roll
     
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  14. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    You've got two GC locations in Balt. and three I think, in the Washington DC metro area.

    You could order one of the Elites through GC.com, get acquainted with it for 20 days or so, and if it doesn't take you might return it or exchange it - by then I would think it would be safe to put on your PP and walk in their door.
     
  15. Slim Chance

    Slim Chance Tele-Afflicted

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    More like six in DC metro area. Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria in VA, Rockville, Laurel and Silver Spring in MD. We’re blessed.
     
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  16. Archtop Bill

    Archtop Bill Tele-Holic

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    I have a 2015 Am. Deluxe purchased new in 2016. Of the dozens of guitars I have owned in the past fifty years, this is my favorite.
     
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  17. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I didn't know GC had a store in Alexandria.

    We had a place up in Tysons Corners from 2011 to early 2016. I even bought a used car, at a Mercedes dealer in Alexandria but don't remember a GC.

    But, DC is full of people with deep pockets (even if they have no time to play). Although, maybe some of them do this year.

    +

    You know, I never did find the time to visit the Rockville store. A guy named Michael, told me not to go back there. :^)
     
  18. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Decide what neck you want. If you think the Baja neck is for you, then get the Vintera. The neck matters more than the pickups.

    Cut down on the variables - don't worry about pickups! Pick the guitar that's going to feel and play as you want it to. To paraphrase an old expression, pickups are a lot like street cars... there's another one coming along every fifteen minutes. :lol:

    It's like buying a car - the interface is what matters (the seats, the ergonomics, how it fits you, how it feels to drive). I don't choose a car by the tires, nor do I pick a guitar for the pickups that are in it. To me, it's the car that matters, tires are an easy change - if desired.

    If I find a guitar that I really love, the pickups don't have to please me - they're so easily changed.

    Just some food for thought.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
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  19. lgherb

    lgherb TDPRI Member

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    It's on Duke street as you head away from Old Town.

    What part of New Orleans are you in? I grew up in River Ridge.
     
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