Can't find a good Tele!

David Menke

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 29, 2020
Posts
137
Age
69
Location
Washington
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?
Blindogg: here is another option, build up a Warmoth tele with a Strat body. Same animal, rides the same on your body.
PXL_20220719_214746001.jpg
 

jshape

TDPRI Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2012
Posts
31
Location
Indianapolis
I have a 2003 50's Classic Tele, blonde/black guard. Honestly, I bought it online solely for the looks. I got it and was immediately super disappointed with how it played. It had one of the fattest necks on a Tele I'd ever played. The fat neck, 7.25 radius, and vintage small frets with my normal 10 gauge strings - everything just felt off. I tried lowering the saddles, but that would quickly cause fretting out. But the pickups (SD Antiquities) sounded killer, and it just looked sooo cool - the exact classic look I always wanted in my Tele. But for years I would pick it up, noodle around for a few minutes, and then quickly put it down because of how difficult it was to play. I got it professionally set-up once, and that still didn't do the trick. It made an appearance at one gig, after which I vowed it would never come back. Trying to go from my smooth-as-silk Les Paul's to that Tele just felt horrible. But still, it looked so cool I could never bring myself to get rid of it, though I came close several times. Finally, after a few years of getting frustrated with it, while also learning more and more about setting up my own guitars, I looked at it one day and just said "F-it, what have I got to lose?" I took the neck off, gave the truss a slight tightening (heel adjustment), did a few passes of sanding on the back, ran a file lightly along the fretboard edge to knock off any sharpness, rolled the edges with a screwdriver shaft until they were nice and rounded, and then screwed it back on and put some 8 gauge strings on it and meticulously adjusted the saddle height.

Holy sh*t! It was like getting a new guitar - one that not only looked super cool, but now also played like a dream and sounded awesome! It's now my main Tele, and gets tons of gig action. My only regret is wasting those years letting it sit on the sidelines and get hated-on, and almost getting rid of it.

That's a long way of saying, "Sometimes you find the right one. Sometimes you find one, and then make it the right one."
 

BlueGillGreg

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jul 30, 2013
Posts
313
Location
New England
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?
Get into a regular habit of playing acoustic blues on a 1930s-ish style small flat top. Bends on a Tele will become easy and you'll get deep into the roots of where all this bending comes from.
 

hopdybob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 28, 2008
Posts
2,645
Location
netherlands
feel is something so personal.
played a cheap strat with no rolled fretboard edges, did not like that in compare with my other strat that has rolled edges.
that last strat is not super low on strings, but plays like a charm, the other had lower strings ( the same brand and thickness) but they felt stiffer.

so you can't just copy your 'settings' to every guitar but have to find out the sweet spot in everything.
so its good to read @blingdogg is on to something so he will get to enjoy a tele after all
 

AndrewG

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 15, 2007
Posts
2,534
Age
70
Location
Exeter, England
This is probably the slinkiest T-style I ever owned; designed by luthier Hugh Manson (pictured, who also does my setups). The compound radius fretboard (12"-16"), helps a lot. Fantastic guitar, around £400. Cort-Manson Classic TC.
1660730233423.png
 

Leadripstick

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 24, 2021
Posts
15
Age
56
Location
Columbia Mo
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?
Nope, picked up a Fender 94 custom ll off Market place, and with a clean up, set up, and new strings, it's the most amazing player I've ever had. My Mij Fender Strat snob friend told me to leave it to him in my will he likes it so much. It's my yardstick for all other guitars that I fix up. I can get close to it, but I haven't matched it yet.
 

cousinpaul

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jun 19, 2009
Posts
4,200
Location
Nashville TN
At some point, you're going to have to commit to a guitar and begin the process of making it your own. The last guitar I bought new was a Taylor GS mini. I visited three music stores and played 7 or 8 identical guitars and finally bought the one I liked best. You'd think they'd all be the same but not so. I imagen you're looking at CV or Player teles in your price range? Whatever you decide on, do your due diligence and play as many as you can. You'll be surprised by the differences between them. Things to consider might be weight, unplugged resonance, dead spots, rough fret work, etc. In other words, everything that can't be cured by a set-up. Best of luck! Hope you pick a winner.
 

xtrajerry

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Jan 3, 2012
Posts
10,904
Location
Lehigh Valley, PA
A good setup can address this, neck relief and angle of the neck pocket. Romberg unless you have a hard tail strat the tremolo will make it feel slinkier. Personally I don’t care to have all my guitars setup the same way. It effects the way I play and something different tends to inspire me. If a good setup doesn’t quite do it try a top loading bridge.. Either that or find a big music store and try every Tele on the shelf.
 

Maguchi

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Posts
2,866
Location
Lalaland
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?
Try a Tele with a toploader bridge or put a toploader bridge on your current Tele. I've heard the toploader guitars are slinkier and bend easier. I know lotsa guys who play those and like 'em.
 




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