Can't find a good Tele!

azureglo

TDPRI Member
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Aug 30, 2020
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United Kingdom
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:


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Meh, telegraph cables, now here's a nice set of playable strings

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re the OPs question, I have a stack of Teles, US STD, Partscaster, Tokai's and various Squiers as well as a proper wall of Strats.

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Found no issues getting ones that work at well under $1000 and even making my own contoured super light white Limba version with a Strat neck, its down to ;

A: Clearly defining your requirements first rather than just stabbing away in the dark
B: Being inspired by something you weren't expecting

I like the neck of my Am Std 1998 Strat & Tele and have done so since 1998 so all guitars I use now nearly the same neck profile and glossy finish (prime requirement, if the neck doesn't work for you the rest is firewood and scrap metal ), so I can explore different configurations and timbres. So I keep a good supply of my favoured necks;

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An unexpected surprise was the MIJ Tokai which weighs 5.9 lbs and is one of these guitars that sits perfectly in a mix , be it a laundry detergent commercial or in the pit band for a touring version of Cats...its even got the partial Keef treatment as a reward.

And none of mine cost even remotely close to $1000 plus I use them to make a living..

peace

A
 

trev333

Telefied
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I played a modern C '91 strat for a while, then a guy brought a Tele around for me to try, it was for sale... we had a jam with tunes we'd been practicing together with his B bender...( which he had a high action, the strap bender and I hated the thing)...

the Tele was slippery as snot and lead me into bends I'd never tried before... it was an '83 with a 12" FB in maple....though, I didn't know that at the time.... hey, it was a US Tele in my hands....... I just thought it was magic to play, low action easy to play/bend, sounded great and it stayed here...it has also changed my playing style for the better..;)

I never did play that strat much again.... ;)

try a 12" FB for some smooth bends..:)

83 tele7.JPG
 

Beebe

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 1, 2021
Posts
911
Location
Atlanta
The nut slots on those off-the-shelf guitars may not be dialed in all the way. Once you get them low enough you cross a magic point and it's like butter.

...so a proper set up.

Try a top load bridge for a more slinky feel and sound.

Also... neck specks? As other have asked.

A lot of guitars on the shelves have modern tall frets, which they might tell you are good for bends. In reality they just push the notes out of tune when you squeeze down.

The flatter radius necks also have a different feel, but the idea that your bends will "fret out" on a smaller radius is a boogie man.

IMHO.
 

Paulmccarthy

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Nj
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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Paulmccarthy

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This is a squier I made into a esquire. This thing plays so good. I have a fender 70th anniversary broadcaster and this thing sounds phenomenal at a fraction of the price of that guitar. So don’t forget it doesn’t have to be expensive to sound good and be good.
 

SixStringSlinger

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OP, does your PRS have a trem? I'm assuming your Strat does. If they both do, that extra "slink" you feel on them could be due to the terms moving with you a bit as you bend (perfectly normal on Strats and the like). Assuming the Tele's you've tried have been the typical hardtail kind, there will always be a little more fight to them as the bridge won't move.

Of course, there have also been Tele's with Strat-type trems.
 

dvto2

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I bend fine on a 9 inch radius if I have jumbo frets. My favorite tele neck is an American Deluxe that was refretted with ss jumbo frets. I hated the American Standard neck I had that had medium jumbos. I replaced it with the neck from the lowest price American Tele neck they had a few years ago (I can't remember the model name) that came with jumbos that I found open box for about $300. I also prefer rosewood to lacquered maple for bending.
 

BBninja59

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Dec 15, 2013
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France
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?
Hi from France. I was in a similar situation years ago, unable to find the right tele. Found the perfect one at a French luthier named Jerome Dussenne, second hand, one body swamp ash, maple neck, powered by his own pickups, 2TS, and now I don't look back to Fender anymore.
 

Enricos

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As well as string gauge and type, fret height, radius, nut width and so forth, varying the neck relief makes a huge difference to the feel of an instrument, eg. compare a higher action and no or little relief with a lower action and noticeable relief. Always worth experimenting. For what it’s worth, I prefer the former.
 
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jimmyjoe

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@blingdogg , I think I can suggest something as far as "slinky" is concerned. Recently I bought a Vintera 60s Bigsby Tele and I was very surprised with how much easier bending is on this axe as compared to my other, string-through-body telecasters (with the same string gauge). So Bigsby is one option, but there is also a simpler one: top-loader bridge. Although I haven't tried this (yet), a lot of people claim top-loading yields similar effect, most likely due to gentle string break angle at the bridge saddles. Here a good vid on this:
 

stormsedge

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A guitars personal playability is all about RADIUS, NECK SHAPE, FRET HEIGHTS ,NUT WIDTH, Neck Relief, STRING gauges and then SETUP.
^^This^^…neck, neck, neck. I wrote down the specs of a neck I liked, then online shopped for that across many guitars. Over time, it became memory…but I also learned small deviations I easily live with. Happy Hunting!
 

surfsup1955

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eastern NC
Neck relief is definitely #1, the flatter the fretboard the slinkier the bends. But if its already pretty flat, tune your Tele down one semitone just to see if like the neck/fretboard that’s on it. If so .008 strings or play it detuned. If not, you’re gonna want a short scale neck.
 

Volcanicash01

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Joined
Apr 8, 2022
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Age
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Location
Mayenne France.
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?
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?
Yep, me too. I have just one now. An American Series. I gigged it a couple of times, but like you,I could not seem to bond with it live. It sounds great acoustically indoors, and my dog likes it! I have had four or five in my life with the same results. I always revert to my 80’s Kramers however. A no brainer for me!
 

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Telecaster88

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Interesting thread! I grew up playing my '88 Am Std Tele, so that's what feels comfortable and what I'm used to. When I finally started looking for a Strat four years ago, I picked up a MIM Deluxe that had a 12“ board and narrow tall frets (strung with nines, my usual preference). The first thing I noticed was how easy it was to bend on that guitar. I'm not much of a bluesy bender guy, but that guitar made it come natural. Add in the floating trem bounciness, and I really fell under the Strat's spell.

After awhile, I wanted a Strat that was closer to my AS Tele in specs, so I found a '99 Am Std, with the same neck specs, that came strung with 10s. Even with the higher gauge, it had that bouncy, loose feel OP is talking about. Bends are not as effortless as on the Deluxe, but still feel nice and loose. [Edited to add: this Strat is decked, not sure how much that affects the slinkiness, but it's still plenty slinky!]

Now, I just appreciate the Tele for being a Tele, and that Strat for being a Strat. I love using the Tele for laying down rhythm stuff, chording, etc. Tele will always be my #1, but throw that juicy, bouncy Strat over the top and it's guitar heaven.

Love that top loader video above. Food for thought!
 
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mmannaxx

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Jun 17, 2008
Posts
380
Location
Ohio
So you can find a Strat that's "perfect" but can't find a Tele at all? Many of them have identical neck profiles.
My guess is a Strat with a trem bar is squishier or more slinky feeling than a through the back Tele. Not sure about a top string mounted Tele though. Maybe a Highway 1 Texas Tele with the 12 inch radius would feel better for bends. But they are harder to find the hen’s teeth.
 




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