Can't find a good Tele!

blingdogg

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jun 24, 2008
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421
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38
Location
Scarborough, Canada
Long post warning...

Telecasters have always been my favourite guitars (looks, sound), but for some reason I can't find one that truly works for me.

When it comes to guitars, playability is my #1 most important factor, over sound, looks, etc...

I do a lot of bending in my music (classic rock and blues rock) and I just can't find a Tele that gives me that loose, slinky feel for bends allowing me to really dig in. I have a great Strat that's perfect when it comes to that, as well as a PRS SE, but I unfortunately can't find the same in a Tele.

I've spent the last 2 months checking out all the Teles in my current price range (under $1000) at all the stores in my neighbourhood. Bought and returned 3 already, thinking they felt nice in the store then when I came home and spent more time they didn't feel too great.

I honestly feel like giving up at this point and sticking to my Strat.

Apologies for the long story, but:

TL;DR have you ever had such a challenging time finding the right Tele, and did it take you a while?
 
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nojazzhere

Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
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Feb 3, 2017
Posts
18,684
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70
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Foat Wuth, Texas
Long post warning...

Telecasters have always been my favourite guitars, but for some reason I can't find one that truly works for me.

When it comes to guitars, playability is my #1 most important factor, over sound, looks, etc...

I do a lot of bending in my music (classic rock and blues rock) and I just can't find a Tele that gives me that loose, slinky feel for bends allowing me to really dig in. I have a great Strat that's perfect when it comes to that, as well as a PRS SE, but I unfortunately can't find the same in a Tele.

I've spent the last 2 months checking out all the Teles in my current price range (under $1000) at all the stores in my neighbourhood. Bought and returned 3 already, thinking they felt nice in the store then when I came home and spent more time they didn't feel too great.

I honestly feel like giving up at this point and sticking to my Strat.

Apologies for the long story, but:

TL;DR have you ever had such a challenging time finding the right Tele, and did it take you a while?
Some here like to say a shorter scale (like a Gibson) FEELS slinkier. I don't feel it myself, but both my "Teles", (a heavily modified Korean made Fender Squier and my self-assembled partscaster) have Warmoth "conversion" necks......so, 24 3/4" scales. I put it together with sourced parts......GFS body, mostly Wilkinson hardware, Bootstrap pickups, and, like I said, a special order Warmoth neck.....and my total cost was somewhere around $500. My main reason for the neck was wanting a wider and fatter neck than Fender produces, but the shorter scale was a bonus.
BTW.....it sounds EXACTLY like a Fender Tele.....but (for me) easier to play. ;)
 

ReverendRevolver

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Posts
3,275
Location
Ohio (Nerk)
Can I suggest something stupid?

They made LP scale squier vintage modified thinlines for a short while about 10 years back. A $250 squier, $80 in setup work, and ~$100 in replacement parts n pickups might get you a better feel.

Or.

Pick up a 90s US standard and try a top loader bridge.

Or.

I ordered a Japanese 24" scale tele exclusive to the Japanese domestic market. I'll post the verdict when it arrives.

I'm guessing neck shape, setup, and bridge have loads to do with how you can find a good one.

Also, which models have you played and returned so far?
 

paulblackford

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Posts
1,316
Location
Cincinnati
You'll get used to tougher bends. I was a tremolo guy (fender, floyds, kahlers, etc...) until I got rid of all of them, in favor of a couple Teles, and now my bends are back to being as easy as they were with tremolos. I played a friends Strat not long ago, and it felt unpleasantly loose. It had no resistance at all. You get used to what you stick to.
 

John O

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 22, 2016
Posts
246
Location
Delaware
well there are alot of teles out there, perhaps you haven't found "the one" yet.
i have a couple of teles I'm fond of, but also a few G&L ASAT's (special and classic), Tele style guitars but with a few differences and they are very nice players with different feel, and sound, you might want to check some of those out.
all 3 of mine are usa made and excellent players, all obtained for < 1G used, online. they have a foreign made (indonesia) tribute series which are better priced and have some usa parts (including pickups), but the usa models are better.
happy hunting!
 

Hodgo88

Tele-Meister
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Posts
281
Location
Eastern Oregon
Before you go spending all that money on a different guitar or you start shaving down a perfectly fine neck, may I ask if you've tried the obvious $8 solution? Endorsed by B.B. King and Billy Gibbons:


71R1BFUTf7L._AC_SS450_.jpg
 

Guitar Rod

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2022
Posts
34
Location
Canada
Stick with it. I just got my dream Tele (52 AVRI) and it's the slinkiest, easiest guitar I own. I use 10s across the board and it is easier to bend at the nut and general bending than the Gibson shorter scale guitars or the Strats. Surprised me. When I first got it I thought it must have 9s on it. Nope, 10s. Might be the big frets a previous owner installed.
 
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Twang-ineer

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jul 24, 2019
Posts
423
Age
48
Location
Florida
If you can, just order the Sq Contemporary Tele - they are never in stock anywhere - for good reason. If you can live without traditional tele pickups (but a single coil mode that is very close) the Charvel So-Cal Tele style guitars are just magical. I love mine. I also have a Player Plus Nashville with a 12 inch radius, and a more conventional shaped neck.
 

Red Baron

TDPRI Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2010
Posts
33
Location
Australia
If you can't find a Tele that you like then I'd like to make a suggestion which I think is worth considering. Try a Gibson Les Paul R4... super slinky feel from the wraptail, not quite the twang of a Tele, but somewhere in-between a Humbuckered LP and a Tele with loads of girth and bite, awesome sound from the wraptail and very comfortable for palm muting. The R4 is IMO the best of both worlds, the perfect combination of Tele and Les Paul combined.
 

Grateful Ape

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Mar 16, 2013
Posts
1,366
Location
UK
Get a used American Pro 1 - cheaper than the 2 - pay for a good setup/fret dress and possibly swap the pickups for something better down the line.

Seriously, I've got one and after the tlc, it plays almost as well as a Suhr.

Edit: although I'm not a huge fan of the 6105-ish frets, they do make bends easy.
 
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mdphillips1956

TDPRI Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2014
Posts
57
Age
66
Location
Sussex England
For finding the right feel in bending strings, I cannot see anything being as effective as trying lots of different strings and gauges.
A shorter scale neck may bend more easily than a long scale because it has a lower string tension, but only with the same strings on it... so stick to the one guitar (polish the frets) and buy different makes, metals, and gauges of strings for it.
Mark P....... (Sussex England)
 

T Prior

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
7,536
Location
Charlotte NC
Its a curious discussion . A favorite guitar for playability, which is actually what EVERYONE desires. Playability begins with how we approach the guitar, the guitar itself and then the set up.

This is where SPECS matter, knowing what it is you desire and want. Not all Teles are equal and quite frankly there are too many out there and none of them are set up properly at the retail stores. But the advertising and the COLORS sure attract a lot of people !

Teles come in many radius flavors and too many different neck shapes , Now add fret heights and nut widths. Its not strange that someone buys 3 guitars and returns them.

A guitars personal playability is all about RADIUS, NECK SHAPE, FRET HEIGHTS ,NUT WIDTH, Neck Relief, STRING gauges and then SETUP.

A few points of reality

Its an old wives tale that you can't BEND easily with a 7.25 radius and low frets. We certainly can, and we do.

a 7.25 radius vs 9.5 is easy to navigate, a 9.5 vs 12 is easy to navigate, but a 7.25 vs a 12 is like night and day.

Tall frets vs low frets can easily cause fretting issues, especially if we fret with a HARD touch. Fender frets have been generally around .045 while Gibson frets can easily be near .050 . These are NOT comparable . Just like 9's , 10's and 11's are not comparable.

Playability start's with HOW we approach the fret board. Then add, how big are our fingers and hands ?

Playing a low profile 7.25 radius with a narrow NUT width may be out of the question, while if we have small hands and thinner fingers that 7.25 with the narrow NUT may be the cats meow. Apparently the most common Fender neck has a medium cut shape, a 9.5 radius , medium fret heights ( .045) a 1.65 nut width and most come with 10's. That covers a ton of USER ground, but not all ground. Not all Teles are equal as we all know.

I would like to know what the OP didn't like about the guitars he returned and which ones were they ? The odds that all 3 were EQUAL specs is perhaps not likely. Taking a guitar off the retail WALL is quite a crap shoot ! For me personally, in my +50 years of playing, I've never found the guitar I love on the WALL, but the ones I do love are now on MY wall ! I have compromised thru the years but the guitars that required compromise are long gone. My friends ask me, which one of my Teles is #1? well, they are ALL #1. Personally I like a 7.25 radius, 1.65 nut width, slim neck, minor neck relief and and lo fret heights , (under .045) The reference guitar for ME is my older 52 RI so it was easy to select OTHER guitars that feel the same. I knew what I liked and wanted well ahead of selecting other guitars. I have a reference.

Specs matter, playing style and strings matter - and set up REALLY matters.

Before buying the next guitar, buy a FRITZ Ruler ! Bring it with you to the "WALL" store ! It will tell you a TON about the guitars setup before you even play one note. A crap set up, poor neck relief and the wrong strings will HIDE a great guitar.

Just my point of view. Good luck, I hope the OP acquires the Tele of his dreams , but it also may require some tweaking !
 
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