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Help me pick my first Tele?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by alex1fly, Nov 23, 2020.

  1. alex1fly

    alex1fly TDPRI Member

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    Hey everyone, been lurking here for a while and have decided to post since I'm considering buying my first Telecaster and figured it'd be good to bounce these ideas around! My playing style ranges from Metallica type riffage on the heavy end to Gilmour/Frusciante/Mayer type bluesy chords and licks to jazz comping with seventh, sixth, and other various suspended chords. I'm primarily a rhythm player that mixes in little lead lines here and there, and don't use pedals besides a basic Boss multifx and my amps' Clean/OD/High Gain channels.

    TLDR: help me choose a Telecaster that can cover blues to jazz to high-gain chugging rhythm while maintaining its classic Fender identity.

    What's not important to me: aesthetics, period-specific accuracy, any player's particular sound, extreme attitudes around vintage-or-bust/OG-Telecaster-can-do-everything-so-ignore-all-the-other-choices

    What is important to me: flexibility, dynamic range, response, achieving the "Fender Sound" without being limited to glassy tones, useful controls for "heat of the moment" jam sessions (don't make me go futz with my amp during a jam!), practicality, taking different tunings and string gauges well (I'm on a D Standard kick lately), delicious cleans and crunchy metal chugs (not EMG level metal, more like Hot Single Coil level metal), sounds great at home and in the mix.

    Logistics: budget up to $1,000, I can go higher if needed but also have no issue spending less on a Classic Vibe if that's the right move. Would prefer to buy something that's awesome stock rather than expecting to mod it. Playing in person is challenging with COVID and lockdowns going on.

    About me: started playing in 2000 and haven't stopped. Bedroom picking, various garage bands (blues, jazz, ska/punk, rock, progressive rock and metal, reggae) writing, recording I used a single American Stratocaster for 98% of my playing, modded it countless times, and eventually wore out the frets and sold it earlier this year... but now I'm missing my Fender vibes! And I'm looking seriously at the Telecaster instead of another Stratocaster for several reasons: easier to work on (hate detuning to remove the Stratocaster electronics), more "solid" response (my Stratocaster played light years better to me when I blocked the tremolo with a chunk of wood... snappier, faster response, etc), and the "does it all!" reputation that the Telecaster has over the Stratocaster.

    I realize this is a lot to ask for but I appreciate any input! And if a Telecaster doesn't seem like the right guitar for me, LMK as well!

    Thanks! Alex
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
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  2. Neener

    Neener Tele-Holic

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    Just play as many as possible until you find the “one”. Then when you get tired of it, sell it and repeat if necessary :)
     
  3. Sean65

    Sean65 Tele-Holic

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    American Performer or Vintera range are good if buying new.

    Second hand American Standard(Professional)

    All more than good enough and you can grow old together.
     
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  4. 68tele

    68tele Friend of Leo's

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    Don't overthink it (I know, too late). Just try a few from your whole price range and pick the one u like best. More $$$ doesn't necessarily mean a better guitar. Let your ears & fingers decide.
     
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  5. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Holic

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    Since...
    • vintage-correct is not at all critical to you
    • flexibility is very important to you
    • you play with some high gain
    then I recommend you look to older used versions of Fender's top of the line production models (Deluxe, Elite, not sure what they call them now...Ultra?)

    These are the models that came with noiseless pickups and a lot of things that seem like bells and whistles to the traditional crowd (locking tuners, more flexible switching, belly cut, 6 block saddle bridge, etc.) and take the feel and tone in a slightly different direction.

    I haven't looked recently, but in the past I'd see them selling for less than the reissues or even the American Standards. Seemed like resale value wasn't as good on them, so they represented a great buy for an instrument that had a lot of design and manufacturing care put into it.
     
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  6. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    You want a Telecaster? Play them until you find one that sounds and feels right. Look first at very good or better condition used and save some of your money. You’ll find similarities but not overlap between a Telecaster and a Strat and you’ll want another Strat sooner than you think. Shop for a Stratocaster in the same price range and then start saving for an amp.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
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  7. alex1fly

    alex1fly TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the responses so far! Looking forward to digging in to them. I should've mentioned that playing guitars in person is challenging in my location with COVID and lockdowns, so that may not be an option... but something like Sweetwater with their generous return policy would be a way to try some different models. Or buying a couple used ones and picking one to keep. Original post edited for clarity.
     
  8. Greggorios

    Greggorios Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Welcome to the forum, nice to have you here.

    Lots of solid input above. I'll second the "go play'em and decide" votes. You presented a very good, detailed written description of what you're looking for but only you know that sounds like. I know, it's hard to try out guitars these days but it's the only real way to get what you want. With your budget you can obtain an excellent instrument. Enjoy the search and as already mentioned try not to over think it. :)
     
  9. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Since you mentioned higain the noisekess
    +1 on this. You mentioned highgain and Jazz. Both things that noiseless is a good solution for. You can always swap pickups if they don't do it for you, but many people find they work well as all rounders.

    Deluxe, Elite, Professional. Some of the older ones with Lace Sensors are stunning guitars that literally do it all. There's a few artist models in those ranges worth keeping an eye out for.

    Those guitars are made of nice/r woods with more figure in the necks. Plus the fittings and assembly is usually very good to excellent. And they came in upscale colours like pearls and metallics and FSRs with ash or classic custom colours.

    What was once $2000 is now a grand. Great buys with much versatility.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
  10. J. Bonkosky

    J. Bonkosky Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    A used American standard/performer the two single coil model. You can do just about anything with a regular spec Tele. And if you aren’t into it you can probably sell it for what you bought it for.
     
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  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Get a Player Series and install a 4-way switch so you can put both pickups in series humbucking mode when you want.
    Then you'll have a stealth Les Paul when you need it.

    .
     
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  12. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Generally I would agree to try as many as possible but times are different. The good news is prices have been stable for a long time so you will have no trouble turning the guitar if you don't bond with it. I would buy used, if you can find an American Standard for under a grand just buy it. For me I would buy an Eighties MIJ, I really like the quality of those and within your budget.
     
  13. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Afflicted

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    Just buy a used player or mim standard that you like the neck. There’s always time and money to mod it. Then you can decide on your dream tele or just stick with it. Be prepared to be underwhelmed. Most teles feel like driving a Honda Accord. You just have to find a good one. And even then you’ll spend the first month or two fighting with it until it clicks. They don’t take you lovingly into their arms and melt into your body like strats and offsets.
     
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  14. alex1fly

    alex1fly TDPRI Member

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    I do find the 4-way switching intriguing. Video clips sound great with this series option and it's like a built in boost.

    Love the idea of being prepared to be underwhelmed. Lots of thought goes into gear purchases so buyer's remorse is definitely a thing to watch for.

    Thinking the classic bridge pickup is a must for a first Telecaster... and a maple neck to remind me of my old Strat.
    The rest comes down to:
    Do I want the Gibson style switching (limits options quite a bit, but more useful than the master volume/tone setup IMO)
    Do I want to mix-and-match parts (adds complexity but would allow me to try some different neck shapes, a big perk of Fender axes)
    Is keeping stock pickups important (if so, noiseless pickups are something to look for)
     
  15. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    Unless you’re convinced you need a “new” guitar I think you’d be best looking at the second hand market. You’ll get a lot more for your money and the hard work of setting up and getting it sorted will most likely be done.
    I don’t pretend to understand the current model range so no specific recommendations.
    I’ve set up a few Teles for other people, and the noiseless pick ups seem to have a lot more grunt about them - not really matching my traditional ideas but perhaps good for your needs.
     
  16. Stinger22

    Stinger22 Tele-Meister

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    My first Tele I bought back in the 70's was a Custom with the 2 volume and 2 tone like a Gibby. And I have a couple of Gibbies and a Fender Flame Elite which has the 2x2. I wore out the neck on that one and then it became FrankenTele and then sat in the closet for years as I acquired a couple of other Tele's with standard master volume and tone. Quite frankly I can get more tones out of the simple Tele configruation than my others. I pulled out the old Custom as my COVID project with new neck, ebony, and converted it to a standard setup. I did do the reverse the control plate and installed a Freeway switch but again I can get more out of it than the 2x2. It's just something about how the Tele circuit interacts. So try out the traditionals and spend some time exploring all the subtle to full tonal variations you can get.
     
  17. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    While you're at it don't forget to check out G&L.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    American Performer Telecaster Hum. A little over $1,000 but the the neck humbucker can give that mellow jazz/blues thing but can be split for single coil.
     
  19. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's hard to go wrong with any of the options.. I can only speak on a used American Standard from the 90s, which was great, although a little worn out feeling. And a newer 2018 American Pro model, which was also great, but I didn't like the VMOD pickups and switched them out for Original Vintages.

    I would say that neck radius matters. The Standard had a thinner neck at 7.5, and the new one has a 9.25, and is a bit chunkier. I adapted and overcame, but you might prefer one over the other.

    Try various models, and find the neck size you like before you pull the trigger. Also, test out different pickups, because the neck and the pickups determine the feel and the sound.

    But like I said, you really can't go wrong with most of the telecasters out there. They are all mostly great quality professional offerings IMO.

    EDIT: Forgot a biggie, make sure you find out what fretboard you prefer. Rosewood or Maple. It makes a huge difference...
     
  20. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Also look into G&L telecasters, they call em' ASATs.. I heard they are great, but haven't tried one yet.
     
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