Long Tele-story and hello from over the pond

redhouse_ca

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Howdy Y’All!



This is going to be a way too long of a post but once in a while a man has to tell the truth about the love of his life. My love affair with Teles started in 1987 – that was the year when I bought a second-hand vinyl under a very well-known title “Born in the USA”. I was 18 then and already had played the guitar since the age of 13 (at 14 I got my first electric – something so terrible that playing it could be used as a torture to dig out confessions from terrorists). I quickly realized that the Boss is playing a butterscotch Tele and obviously wanted one immediately. Not possible so much then – taking into consideration that I was behind the iron curtain. I managed to find a pretty decent luthier’s copy and made all possible and impossible efforts to get the money to buy it. Loved it to death but, at some point, got distracted by Stratocasters and sold this Tele to buy some lame copy of a Strat. I wish I didn’t.

The political system has changed in 1989 and in 1994 I managed to pay a 4 week-long visit to the USA (Maryland). I remember sitting in a small guitar store and playing a butterscotch Tele made in 1969 – the year I was born. It cost $800 and it was about $500 more than I could afford so, with tears running down my cheeks, had to give it back to the owner. To cheer myself up, I went to some large music store and came back to my home country with a brand new black MIM top loader Fender Telecaster. I loved it. Many, many years have passed and in 2006 I was trying to board a flight from London to Warsaw, in the wee wee hours, with this very guitar in my hand when the airport lady told me I cannot take it with me to the cabin and it has to travel as a registered baggage. I got mad and shouted, “this guitar has outlived my 2 marriages (true), how on earth do you have the nerve to separate me from her!”. You should have seen their faces.

Then times got hard and I could not pay for the service my best friend did to my small company so I asked him if he would take this guitar as a form of payment as his son wanted to learn how to play. He agreed and his young man’s been playing my babe since then – I come over to see her once in a while and she’s doing good. While I lived with her in the UK, I brought it to the pretty famous luthier to mod it a bit so it got string-through, three barrel compensated bridge and new electronics – I got money at that time. So the MIM played sweet but not sweet enough for my second guitar player in an amateur band we had – he happened to collect guitars and one day brought a gorgeous butterscotch MIJ ’52 Reissue Fender Telecaster to the rehearsal and told me to play it through a Marshal stack. At the end of that day he just said: “You’re a Tele guy, deep inside. I’m a Les Paul guy. Keep this Tele – you sing together.”. Wow. This one’s been with me for about 10 years and then the times got really hard – you know the moment when pawn shop owners greet you by your first name? Right. That’s how I lost this babe.

Times are still very tough for me now and I’ve been left with a crappy acoustic for the last few years. Apparently, a few days ago someone on FB asked about the possible value of two guitars he was given to sell by someone who went to the hospital with little chances to get back on his feet again. One of these guitars was a Harley Benton TE-30, with some dirt on the neck and no strings. I managed to squeeze $40 and bought it from him. Back home I opened a pocket in the gig bag that came with the guitar and found a receipt for some luthier’s work on the other guitar. I recognized the name of the client on the receipt and immediately called the seller – he confirmed that the name (and the guitars) belongs to a guy I did exchange lots of opinions on some country music internet forums about….20 years ago. And now I have his guitar in my hands. Tricky is this word and so is my constant affection to the Teles. No matter how difficult my life turned to be and will be, I will always have a Tele beside me or at least dream of having one beside me. It feels so much better and gives you the strength to fight the circumstances with all the power it shares with you.

Gotta work a bit on her, the electronics are messed up and the frets need some redressing. I have a crappy cheap amp no pawn shop wanted to buy from me so I can’t really say how it sounds but at least it’s a Tele again in my hands. It’s probably a pre-2018 model (old HB logo on a headstock, 22 frets and an amazingly looking lacquered neck), heavy as a rock but its mine…:) :) :)

Apologies to Y’All for this long story but you are the only audience who will understand. I have to be strong day in and day out now to get back on my feet someday soon and eventually buy myself a proper Fender Tele again, so here is the only place I thought of where I can tell the story showing some emotions unknown for anyone but Tele lovers.

Good to be here. Have a great day!



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This is a great story, thanks for sharing. Like you, guitars have been part of my life for a long time and it’s fun to think back on things through the lens of the guitars. Sound like you came to the US and bought that tele while I went the other direction (what was then called Eastern Europe). I have fond memories of sitting in on blues jams in clubs in East Berlin and Warsaw. I sucked but people were always so cool to me and it was more about coming together than picking apart the quality of your playing. That’s something I learned back then that has stuck with me (find the common ground, we all have it, and focus on that vs what keeps us apart). Sorry about the little morality anecdote but it was great to read this.
 

Quarter1969

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So, a little update and some thoughts based on your kind comments:

Altering slightly the lyrics from a great song by Randy Houser, I've let "the Tele do what Tele does", fiddled around with the TE-30, spent a few hours stolen from 16hrs working days to let my fingers touch the strings again, and do some bends and strums. I gotta admit that this cheap Tele offered me its soul and the bond is intriguing, to say the least. Sure, it ain’t no Custom Shop, but – I’ll try to be objective here, at least for a man who missed the Tele feel so much – it’s an incredible guitar for the price you pay. I don’t care about any imperfections in the finish (didn't even look for them, nothing striking there). I hate the pearly pickguard but it's an esthetic preference, will be changing to plain white or black soon – cheap fix, nice mood booster. But the guitar, with its cheap pickups and cheap bridge, still sings and cries as a Tele should. The neck pickup is slightly too muddy (it allows for nice, jazzy tones, though), but the middle and neck positions really do the job. I wouldn't gig with it as a second guitar player in a Brad Paisley band (not that I ever was offered such a job ;) ) but it would be right in place in a bar/pub situation or something to throw in the trunk and carry with you in case you end up joining some jam session unexpectedly. And, obviously, a great guitar to have around the house and beat the hell out of it anytime you pass by on your way to the kitchen or to spend an evening on the porch, just relating to Alan Jackson's "front porch picking" picture. Couldn't be happier, in the current circumstances. Lovely guitar – get one if you have any nickles and dimes burning a hole in your Wranglers.

My new Tele asked me for a reasonable company, so I did an effort and managed to sell my crappy amp and for a few bucks more than I received I got myself this little Blackstar thingy (Debut 10E) that surprised me with its tonal quality and a very usable tape echo type delay. My Tele told me it’s all right for the start so I have now a happy couple and my workload is in danger anytime I look at them as the urge to pick’em up and strike some notes every now and then is hard to resist.

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Welcome! BTW, your written English skills are impressive to this American.

Thanks! Among other professions I practice, I am also a copywriter, so I should be able to tell stories in at least passable manner :) I apologize for any grammar and/or spelling mistakes in my posts, but I don't do any proofreading on my "streams of consciousness", so I do not approach my writing here the way I approach copywriting gigs I do for clients. Hope you don't mind - it's my "front porch relaxing time" here :)

This is a great story, thanks for sharing. Like you, guitars have been part of my life for a long time and it’s fun to think back on things through the lens of the guitars. Sound like you came to the US and bought that tele while I went the other direction (what was then called Eastern Europe). I have fond memories of sitting in on blues jams in clubs in East Berlin and Warsaw. I sucked but people were always so cool to me and it was more about coming together than picking apart the quality of your playing. That’s something I learned back then that has stuck with me (find the common ground, we all have it, and focus on that vs what keeps us apart). Sorry about the little morality anecdote but it was great to read this.

Great story! I’m so glad you had a chance to experience that. There is a large blues community and a lot of affection for blues music here so I guess you had a great time endlessly jamming with the guys in Warsaw, Poland. Actually, your contribution made me think of a project for a book where we could all contribute with our stories with our Tele's. It'd be fantastic to gather stories from all around the world, showing that Tele's – as @Orpheum rightfully pointed out – are more of creatures living their own life, influencing us to do certain things, being our companions in the life journey, not just a physical objects with attached strings but much more of intimate relationship with a lot of strings attached or no strings attached (just playing with the words, not notes this time). I even have a title for such a book:

Tele Tell

All right, that’ll be all Folks! Have a great day and thanks again for all the comments and support. From the moment I have my Tele with me, the future sounds and looks just like the Tele’s bridge pickup – brighter with every note played :D
 
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Quarter1969

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Last update in this thread :D Once in a while you feel that something is just not 100% right, or that there is a little upgrade or simple fix you should do to make a guitar fully "yours" and create this nice emotional bond with her. In my new Tele it was the pickguard - the white pearl pickguard on the translucent off-white body just wasn't right for me (you can review it in the opening post). So I have made a breathtaking investment of $8.00, did some trimming and drilled some new holes for the screws (HB pickguards don't match the standard Fender layout) and.....here is the outcome. It's fully mine now :D :D :D

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When I was changing it, I realized that the body under the neck pickup was originally prepared to accommodate a humbucker...well...gotta think it through.... ;) ;) ;)
 
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Wrighty

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This is a beautiful love story.
Guitars are very special things (or beings...?) that can bring so much light in our lives...
No, they’re bits of wood and metal with some rudimentary electronics added. So, how does the whole become so much more than the sum of the parts?
In some cases as a result of how they were acquired or followed / took you through some parts of your life I suppose. Strange things, emotions.
 

Orpheum

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No, they’re bits of wood and metal with some rudimentary electronics added. So, how does the whole become so much more than the sum of the parts?
In some cases as a result of how they were acquired or followed / took you through some parts of your life I suppose. Strange things, emotions.
Yes, emotions are very strange... After all, a woman, or a child, are only some bits of flesh and bones, and despite that we give them so much love.
 

Quarter1969

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Yes, emotions are very strange... After all, a woman, or a child, are only some bits of flesh and bones, and despite that we give them so much love.
You can even say we are tanks containing about 12 gallons of water with some chemical additives to glue it together somehow :)

It's all about the value we assign to people, animals or inanimate matter. When it comes to items, it's a question if we believe or think they may have some sort of personality or soul or are just a bunch of molecules performing certain functions. I might be qualified for some mental institution but I think that at least a few "items" I had where equipped with a soul of their own - be it old cars, guitars, zippo lighters. The simpler the construction, the more resonance I can feel - that's maybe why Telecasters have made so many people attached to them. And I don't feel guilty of having much more affection to "inanimate matter" which partnered me in my life than to billions of people I don't know and don't see much of a reason I should care about (and do not expect them to care about me) :)
 

Wrighty

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Yes, emotions are very strange... After all, a woman, or a child, are only some bits of flesh and bones, and despite that we give them so much love.
Mm, I think they are examples of somewhat more sentient beings than a guitar! More of a two-way situation!
 

Quarter1969

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Mm, I think they are examples of somewhat more sentient beings than a guitar! More of a two-way situation!
Well, that's something to be discussed. When I think back about my 1st marriage, I believe it was much more of a one-way situation than the one I have with a Tele that would fight back, sing sweet or cut my ears with the twang ;) I think it was Mark Twain who said “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.” Easily transferable to guitars, if we just pass the concept "things got no soul/personality". I believe there is a good number of people who'd quite frequently choose to spend an evening with a guitar and an amp instead of going to a party with a bunch of people who have not much to offer.
 




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