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Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by omlove, May 7, 2019.
Someone made a great point about what versatility even means in this respect. You can get more sounds out of a Strat, especially one that has a switch that allows neck and bridge or all 3 pickups on. The Strat also has a vibrato bar. I guess you could get an Eastsider S and cover most of this ground. But still, I wouldn't say the Tele is the most versatile guitar.
I do think that the Tele can cover huge ground given its simplicity, which makes it versatile for what it is. A 4-way switch for series/parallel options covers even more ground.
Versatility might be a very individual thing, too. Metal players or shredders might opt for something else. Same goes with other styles.
I used to have very strong mental associations with guitars and genres, and I kind of pigeonholed Teles as country guitars in my brain for a long time. It wasn't until I saw Josh Smith, Julian Lage and Greg Koch that I realized the Tele was capable of a lot. So, yeah, it is very versatile! But the most versatile? I guess it depends on who you ask.
It can double as a weapon.
MilwMark is right, of course.
This is the most versatile guitar:
2 pickups, 3 knobs, and 4 way switch.... remember MORE is MORE
Ha! more is more...
Think I can be easily confused
As others have posted, depends on the term "versatility".... my BMG Special is THE most versatile guitar I have, but it involves fiddling with with 3 pickup switches and 3 pickup phase switches. Incredibly versatile guitar, love it to death, but, some others get more play time, due to not having to think too much ) My "go to" atm is a '65 Harmony H15 I recently scored...tons o' fun!!!. With the BMG through my Tweaker, there are seemingly endless tone options, although I tend to spend a lot of time just dicking around with all of it instead of just playing. But, I CAN get any tone I want using the two, …..just give me a few minutes
There's a maxim the says you can reduce treble, but you can't add more.
At least on the guitar itself.
With a Tele you've got lots of treble.
Also, I personally prefer the simplicity of 2 pickups and minimal controls.
I agree that Tele's are probably the most versatile electric guitar with traditional pickups.Strats are my number one because nothing sounds exactly like a Strat except for a Strat but I play Teles a lot too.In terms of being versatile for a wide range of musical styles I find the Tele wins because it sits between a Strat and Gibson.Strats are thinner than a Tele and Gibsons are thicker(Les Paul,SG ect).So the Tele sits between both extremes and can work more easily to cover more bases...a Les Paul would be too thick to play Stevie Ray Vaughan and a Strat would be too thin to play Guns n Roses but a Tele could fake both those musical tones.
But this is traditionally speaking in terms of pickup configuration...I think an HSS Strat would probably be the most versatile electric.
Yuppers!! I can easily metal out (I do mean including modern metal) on my Tele. It has single coil clarity, but IMO, the bridge pickup has much more bottom end beef than a Strat's has. Use a decently high gain amp, adjust your amp settings properly (read avoid the typical guitar player tendency to crank the treble and presence controls), or use the guitar's tone control, and you get a nice, thick sound, with punch, clarity, and grind, with none of the bright chicken pickin' tone that gives most people the idea that a Tele is only good for uber twangy honky tonk stuff.
Ditto for the neck pickup - keep your amp clean, go easy on the treble, use your tone control, and you're in the Bill Frisell, Julian Lange, Ed Bickert, and Jim Campilongo jazz zones.
I love my Gibson ES-137 (soundwise it's a cross between an ES-335, and a Les Paul), but my 60s Baja Tele is my desert island electric.
Comparing a Strat to a Tele, and I have 3 Strats and 3 Teles...
The Strat has 5 distinct tones.
The Tele has 3 or 4 distinct tones, but they comprise a broad space where you construct tones. The tones are in your hands and what your brain can make your hands do.
I have a Carvin DC 127 that is the most versatile guitar I've ever owned/played.
2 splitable humbuckers with a three way switch (6 individual sounds + the blends between humbuckers and the split single coils + the tone stuff).
It also has a Floyd Rose for vibrato and dive bombing (huh?).
If I'm doing a gig without much knowledge of what's going on (sitting in), it's right there with me and it usually works out great!
But, I love my Tellys, Too!
The tone ranges from dark and bassy (great for jazz) to screaming treble.
In addition to what Blowtorch said with this: "With a tele you can play jazz no problem on the neck pickup, and the bridge pickup rocks well, even better if you have a 4 way wired in there. The tele bridge is THE classic country chicken pickin tone. In-between is great for bluesey tones"
I would add that it was also central to R&B, soul and funk. A strat can cover a lot of that too, but not in the same way. The Tele shows up in almost every style of music, strats and teles don't quite cover that range it seems.
It may have been marketing, as someone said. Yet in this case, the marketing actually reflects the truth. I really like strats, but quit playing them in the 90's. They have a way of disappearing in the mix on stage in positions 2 and 4. Position 5 is too bassy and boomy. So I was limited to the bridge position, the strats would spend all night on the stand or in its case. So I just went with what was naturally occurring for me, and have only played a tele since then.
Strats have too many knobs.
The secret lies in a low output neck pup and reasonably high bridge pup. While a Stat is a great guitar, the output of the three pups is similar and therefore limiting.
A 4-way or S1 switch broadens the Tele’s capabilities.
Here's my (probably wrong) take on this: A stratocaster has the most pickup combinations available, which would seem to make it more versatile than a telecaster, BUT...
... each stratocaster pickup combination has a very specific sound with a narrow range of uses, whereas that telecaster bridge pickup can be used for almost anything. Yes, even metal. I'm seeing a lot more of this recently.
The essence of versatility is not about how many pickups or how many switching combinations. With due respect to others, none of those are the point.
A Strat is a more specialized, "indoor carpentry" kind of tool, for installing doors and trim work. You know, the stuff you work on later in the conceptualization of what you're doing. Textures, rhythm parts to keep people's ears occupied.
An Esquire or Tele is for site prep and setting up for the foundation, and on and on until you're using it to install your roofing. It speaks in an "outside" voice not an inside voice. Once the structure is closed in you can put it away and use more delicate tools like 335s and Ricks and Strats and little Jazzmasters and Jaguars with their little nuanced tones. The Big Dog has to do all the heavy lifting and because the design is hardy and can be played sweetly or be pounded upon ( all to good effect ) that's the essence of the versatility.
In other words, they had to add additional gimmicks on the Strat to give it a fighting chance against the Esquire/Tele.
I swear I did not read Archtop Bill's post before I wrote this, but that's a lot of it there. The design is also just so robust and can be manhandled and manipulated in ways that tend to break other guitars.
I spent a few hours on the back porch this evening playing with my new HRD and setting up some pedals, and used 3 different Strats, each one voiced a little differently. I love my Strats, they just feel right in every way. Right before putting everything away, I grabbed the Tele (with a set of Fat Lions) and let her rip. There’s just something about that thing that eats the Strats alive.
I think I mainly hear that the Tele is the most versatile guitar in promotional videos paid for by Fender.