Looking for advices on a USA Tele

frettchen

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I am looking for a used USA made Telecaster. I am quite up to date on the models that have followed (Am. Std, Am. Special, performer, HWY1), but I have never had the opportunity to try them.
If you were to buy a used guitar, which model would you recommend to me in the first instance?
I like vintage sounds, but I play from time to time with a band with more modern pop/rock sounds.
Thanks in advance for the advice!
 

Tarkus60

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My buddy has a 2015 American standard with twisted tele pickups and that is a rock guitar for sure.
I have a 2006 American series( standard) it is more traditional I think. Both necks are perfect.
 

beyer160

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Fender's American made models are designed to be their best, both from a fit & finish aspect as well as hardware. There isn't really a "best," they're just "different" from each other. They're all fine guitars, you just need to find out which set of features you like best (and are willing to pay for).

For my money, the old Classic series (made in Mexico) are really the best from a cost/benefit perspective. They have all the stuff I want, without stuff I don't want to pay extra for.
 

John C

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@beyer160 @Tarkus60 thank you both! Are there any major differences between American Standard Tele pre-2000 and post 2000 (American series), as far as you know?

Yes there are differences, primarily the neck - When the American Series came out in mid-2000 Fender started rolling the fingerboard edges, switched to the staggered-height tuners (2 are "tall"/normal height and 4 are shorter), the adjusted the radius of the body to be more like a vintage Tele (the pre-2000 American Standards were a little flatter) but this is much more obvious on the Strats than the Teles. They supposedly updated the pickups a bit too, but they are pretty similar.

Electronics on the pre-2000 American Standards changed circa 1997 when they removed the TBX tone pot in favor of a no-load tone pot. If you're not familiar the TBX is essentially 2 pots that share a shaft - it functions as a 250k pot for about half the sweep of the knob, then you feel a small detent (a brief stop) and once you pass that it functions as a 1mg pot. The no-load pot has a detent when you move it all the way to the full up position, when it passes the detent the tone pot is out of the circuit.

Fender restored the American Standard name in 2008 and switched the bridge to the bent steel saddles from the cast steel saddles. Then circa March 2012 the American Standards changed to Fender Custom Shop pickups (Twisted Tele neck, Broadcaster bridge) and they added a back contour (or "tummy cut") to the body; it was then unchanged until it was discontinued and replaced by the American Professionals in December 2016.
 

frettchen

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Yes there are differences, primarily the neck - When the American Series came out in mid-2000 Fender started rolling the fingerboard edges, switched to the staggered-height tuners (2 are "tall"/normal height and 4 are shorter), the adjusted the radius of the body to be more like a vintage Tele (the pre-2000 American Standards were a little flatter) but this is much more obvious on the Strats than the Teles. They supposedly updated the pickups a bit too, but they are pretty similar.

Electronics on the pre-2000 American Standards changed circa 1997 when they removed the TBX tone pot in favor of a no-load tone pot. If you're not familiar the TBX is essentially 2 pots that share a shaft - it functions as a 250k pot for about half the sweep of the knob, then you feel a small detent (a brief stop) and once you pass that it functions as a 1mg pot. The no-load pot has a detent when you move it all the way to the full up position, when it passes the detent the tone pot is out of the circuit.

Fender restored the American Standard name in 2008 and switched the bridge to the bent steel saddles from the cast steel saddles. Then circa March 2012 the American Standards changed to Fender Custom Shop pickups (Twisted Tele neck, Broadcaster bridge) and they added a back contour (or "tummy cut") to the body; it was then unchanged until it was discontinued and replaced by the American Professionals in December 2016.
Thanks, very informative! As far as I can understand there have been no particular changes in the pickups from '90s to 2008-2011 Telecasters, right?
 

TelePickler

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Thanks, very informative! As far as I can understand there have been no particular changes in the pickups from '90s to 2008-2011 Telecasters, right?
I have an American Standard from 08-11 era, and I think the pickups cover a lot of ground. Mine has done well for everything from modern rock and punk to clean/light OD church music.
 

John C

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Thanks, very informative! As far as I can understand there have been no particular changes in the pickups from '90s to 2008-2011 Telecasters, right?

According to Fender there were changes in 2000 (when it became the American Series) and again in 2008 (when it returned to being the American Standard) but I think that's more marketing than reality. They would advertise them as "Improved pickups" but I didn't really hear a difference in the pickups that couldn't be attributed to differences in individual guitars.
 

Telecaster88

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My '88 Am Std has served me well (bone stock) as my #1 since I bought it new. Can't really go wrong if you're looking for a rock-solid workhorse guitar.
 

fenderchamp

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I think you can't easily go wrong. I'd decide if I wanted noiseless pickup or traditional pickups, 3 saddle or six saddle bridge, and then just sort of look for the model that suits you.

I wouldn't be too worried at all about exactly what model of newer series of US tele to buy, the regular special/pro/standard modern teles are all kind of homogeneous representations to various degrees of fanciness, of modern to vintagey-modernish eminently serviceable instruments. They mostly (with many exceptions) have 1 piece maple or 2 piece rosewood necks, multi-piece kind of heavy bodies, shiny paint, middle of the road fretboard radiuses and neck sizes and medium/jumboish frets. To my hands and ears they all the same inoffensive soup. Any of them can be instruments of outstanding quality, they just aren't very sexy, I have an early 90s Am Std that was in a case for literally 10 years and was in tune when I took it out. A good tele is as stable as a trail horse.

What I would beware of
in buying a used guitar without being able to play it first is a twisted neck or a neck with backbow and a loose trussrod that can't be adjusted, or a really poorly setup guitar that might be masking the former issues. That's where I think you could go very wrong, with any model of used telecaster. The quality control is good, but you could get some POS that has been passed around and is just jacked up, especially if you try to get a 15+ year old american standard that has a hump on the fretboard where the top frets are and had a shim and those screws pushing into the back of fretboard, or that has been played all to hell, and never been wiped off or whatever.

That is to say, if I were in Italy, and I could only swing a used guitar, and I never even played one about like the one I wanted before, I wouldn't buy it from the USA or from Oz, and have it be a big hassle to return in case it's kind of messed up and not adjustable.

I'd try buy it from someone with a generous return policy, reasonable close, and preferably a retailer with a repair guy, and I'd insist on talking to the repair guy when he has the guitar on his bench in his hands and being reassured that the neck was both reasonably straight and reasonably adjustable, and that the guitar is in good adjustment and fine working order.

I'd also get to evaluating it and setting it up right after I got it to make sure it was going to work out.

What can I say, I've seen a lot of used guitars, and there be dragons.
 
Last edited:

Beachbum

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I own an American Standard Tele and it's a fine guitar but truth be known it's no better or worse in any respect than my Fender branded and G&L offshore Teles that cost half as much. My advice is to find a Tele that you like regardless of brand and if the sound doesn't please you install a set of pickups that do.
 

adjason

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Yeah I like them all too- I like American standards of any year and the Mexican classic series 50's and 60's or vinteras are really nice too. Yeah find one you like and get it rather than only looking at one model etc. For years I used a Mexican standard tele with nocaster pickups
 

Maguchi

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I am looking for a used USA made Telecaster. I am quite up to date on the models that have followed (Am. Std, Am. Special, performer, HWY1), but I have never had the opportunity to try them.
If you were to buy a used guitar, which model would you recommend to me in the first instance?
I like vintage sounds, but I play from time to time with a band with more modern pop/rock sounds.
Thanks in advance for the advice!
I had an '88 or '89 American Standard Tele and have a 2019 American Performer Tele. Either one of those would be an excellent choice for both vintage and modern sounds.
 

smoggyama

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I am looking for a used USA made Telecaster. I am quite up to date on the models that have followed (Am. Std, Am. Special, performer, HWY1), but I have never had the opportunity to try them.
If you were to buy a used guitar, which model would you recommend to me in the first instance?
I like vintage sounds, but I play from time to time with a band with more modern pop/rock sounds.
Thanks in advance for the advice!
Consider a holiday in Southern California. It is the land of guitars. and amps, idiots, etc.
 

smoggyama

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Apr 28, 2018
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I think you can't easily go wrong. I'd decide if I wanted noiseless pickup or traditional pickups, 3 saddle or six saddle bridge, and then just sort of look for the model that suits you.

I wouldn't be too worried at all about exactly what model of newer series of US tele to buy, the regular special/pro/standard modern teles are all kind of homogeneous representations to various degrees of fanciness, of modern to vintagey-modernish eminently serviceable instruments. They mostly (with many exceptions) have 1 piece maple or 2 piece rosewood necks, multi-piece kind of heavy bodies, shiny paint, middle of the road fretboard radiuses and neck sizes and medium/jumboish frets. To my hands and ears they all the same inoffensive soup. Any of them can be instruments of outstanding quality, they just aren't very sexy, I have an early 90s Am Std that was in a case for literally 10 years and was in tune when I took it out. A good tele is as stable as a trail horse.

What I would beware of
in buying a used guitar without being able to play it first is a twisted neck or a neck with backbow and a loose trussrod that can't be adjusted, or a really poorly setup guitar that might be masking the former issues. That's where I think you could go very wrong, with any model of used telecaster. The quality control is good, but you could get some POS that has been passed around and is just jacked up, especially if you try to get a 15+ year old american standard that has a hump on the fretboard where the top frets are and had a shim and those screws pushing into the back of fretboard, or that has been played all to hell, and never been wiped off or whatever.

That is to say, if I were in Italy, and I could only swing a used guitar, and I never even played one about like the one I wanted before, I wouldn't buy it from the USA or from Oz, and have it be a big hassle to return in case it's kind of messed up and not adjustable.

I'd try buy it from someone with a generous return policy, reasonable close, and preferably a retailer with a repair guy, and I'd insist on talking to the repair guy when he has the guitar on his bench in his hands and being reassured that the neck was both reasonably straight and reasonably adjustable, and that the guitar is in good adjustment and fine working order.

I'd also get to evaluating it and setting it up right after I got it to make sure it was going to work out.

What can I say, I've seen a lot of used guitars, and there be dragons.
What he said.
 




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