Please Educate Me: Why Tele Is The Most Versatile

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by omlove, May 7, 2019.

  1. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Exactly.
     
  2. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Meister

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    Huh, middle position is my favorite for heavy fuzz and distorted rhythm stuff. Could very well be the pickups I have in my #1 and how they're set. I think this is one of the things that puts the tele up there for versatility, not so much that it has 5 switch positions like a strat or independent volume and tone like a Gibbo. More so that every sound from a standard (or 4 way) tele is super useful and is constantly being used for totally different things by a bajillion different players every night since pretty much day 1.

    For the OP, in addition to the above and what everyone has said about how you can get a tele to sound stratty or LP-like but the inverse is rarely true etc, I think the tele has more useful tones easily on tap than the others. Personally, I don't care for 2/5 tones from a strat, so might as well be a 3 position guitar for me, and I've found LP-types to be largely limited to bridge pickup for everything other than woman tone - just too dark for my tastes. But a tele? You can stick that switch anywhere and set your tone and volume knobs wherever and it's going to sound great. You just can't make the sucker sound bad. Plug it in, tune it twice a month, and away you go.
     
  3. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Tele-Holic

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    After 20 years without really playing a Tele - I got a nice one.

    Here's the answer for me:
    1. The bridge pickup is a "blank slate" - It's pure, has tons of treble content and provides a really powerful, full range signal
    2. The bridge pickup is almost like Teflon - not a lot of rough edges to get wooly or indistinct when you start to gain up. It stays clean and together longer than Strats or Lesters, then get really mean once you cross the threshold
    3. The Neck pickup is better than advertised and does that hollow, fat single coil thing really well - it's in direct contrast with the bridge pickup and takes drive well
    4. Because of the above, you can cut through a mix anytime you want. You can do searing overdriven leads to plucky and percussive rhythm chops
    5. You can ride the volume and tone controls to get any sound you need from a good amp - something many guitars just can't do as well
     
  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Assuming stock vintage specs I'd say a Tele bridge pickup is fatter sounding than a Strat bridge pickup and clearer sounding than a LP bridge pickup.

    It's the combo of fat yet clear that makes it.
    Then add in that they're hard to break yet comfortable to play.

    For me it's Esquires, no need for a neck pickup.
     
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  5. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    I won’t say that any guitar is THE MOST versatile of all, but I think the Deluxe Nashville is especially versatile. It does Strat tones, Tele tones, and Stra-Tele tones too.

    With mine, I put Fender Fat '50s Strat pickups in both the neck and middle positions... and a True Velvet in the bridge. I'd be as happy, perhaps even happier, with a Cavalier Nashville Lion in the bridge position, as well.

    A lot of great tones available from this instrument. Five-way switch, at an angle.

    [​IMG]


    Most current photo, with Deluxe Nashville 9.5" radius rosewood neck:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  6. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's

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    I agree that the tele bridge pickup, on its own, is more versatile than a strat bridge pickup. And I agree that if you don’t like the strat 2 and 4 positions, the tele is more versatile than a strat. But I spend more time playing neck pickups than bridge pickups (and like the strat neck pickup a lot more than the tele’s - and I really like the tele’s too) and to me the 2 and 4 on a strat are the very essence of electric guitar sounds, ever since I used to stick toothpicks in my three way switch to get it to stay put in between. I tend to play the tele bridge pickup when I want a really screaming middy overdriven sound, which I love when I want it, but I don’t want it that often. And with a tone control on my strat’s bridge pup, I can get close enough if I have the strat in my hand and want that sound. But I can’t come close to a strat’s 2, 4, or 5 sounds with a tele other than the Nashville and then only with a strat neck pup... at which point it’s a hard tail strat with a tele bridge pup, and THEN it is a VERY versatile guitar with most of the best of both strat and tele.
     
  7. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    while all the battle of words regarding versatility are taking place, lets not lose sight that any guitar is NOT just about PUPS. PUPS are just part of a guitar. When did the word versatility be defined as PUPS only and how many pup switch positions a guitar has . ?

    Tele players SAY that Teles are versatile because we don't play Strats and LP's or 335s the same, they require a different right hand positioning . We don't change guitars to play Jazz, Country, Pop, Americana, Blues etc...We don't have to change the way we execute. The bridge ash tray and saddle arrangement is a very important factor.

    This whole "is more versatile " thing is just another word for "preference" anyway.

    Oh yeah, I have a Tele with 3 PUPS and a 5 way, so there goes that "Strat has more options" theory, out the window !

    Its just a mind game at the end of the day.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  8. Greg_L

    Greg_L Tele-Holic

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    Teles are not anywhere near the most versatile guitar. Not a standard Tele anyway. Only Tele fans think their guitars are the most versatile. Strats and dual humbucker/4-knob Gibsons are far more versatile than a Tele, but users of those guitars don't go running around saying it because they don't need to.
     
  9. plmici

    plmici TDPRI Member

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    Tele does a lot, but it is far from most versatile guitar. So is strat and any Gibson, too. I believe each guitar has its unique range of applications, but there is no one which does it all.

    However, tele is dead simple guitar and behind that beautiful simplicity lots of possibilities are hidden. Jazz - go for it. Country - perfect. Blues - well, maybe, will probably do. Rock - hell yeah, it literally screams. Metal - why not, might not be as metal as you might expect (except Hot Rails Tele set), but still has very unique voicing on hi gain. And one more advantage - it just sits in the mix perfectly. It's the only guitar that I don't need to fight to be heard.
     
  10. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    Telecasters are excellent for:

    Blues
    Rock
    Country
    Jazz
    Funk
    Metal

    ...and all their variants.

    But the same thing could be said for many other types of guitars.
     
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  11. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Afflicted

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    He he, I like that. :)

    The problem with all this for me is the word versatile. It's possible to shade it in several different ways.

    If I wish to take a very literal stance on 'purpose / function / activity,' not to mention 'adapt,' then I might be forced to conclude no guitar is truly versatile.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
  12. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

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    I disagree. When I say that the Tele is the most versatile guitar I've tried, I am not trying to empirically justify anything. I'm just telling you my view on the matter.

    Back to the OP question: first, it depends a lot on what range of musical genres you are considering. A Tele is a first-choice solidbody for a vast range of music (western, country, swing, blues, pop, rock, jazz, soul, rnb....). It's not just that you can play this music on a Tele - you can play jazz on a 7-strings Ibanez if you like. It's that unlike any other electric guitar than I know (save perhaps the 335), a Tele is in the shortlist of the 2-3 best-suited for each of these genres according to a number of distinguished practitioners of the art. Now: if you play music ranging from Led Zeppelin to Megadeth, a stock Tele may only satisfy part of your needs...

    Second, versatility is not a direct function of the number of pickups. As others have observed, a Strat has five (wonderful) variations of one basic tone, which I personally find great for lots of music I play (blues, rock, soul) but not for all (eg jazz). In a Tele, the neck and bridge pickups are distant cousins. The traditional Tele neck PU is a round, fat sound, while the bridge is the essence of twang. The selector, and the two knobs, help bridge this rather large gap. This may explain why the Tele is so ubiquitous cross-genre. (Additional explanations: it's simple, rugged, holds tuning well, and sounds pretty spectacular across its range).

    Of course, you may hate how a Tele sounds, in which case versatility won't help one bit :p
     
  13. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

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    Damn, forgot to mention that! Gig in dangerous part of town? The Tele is your #1 choice!
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  14. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Afflicted

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    That video is an amazing performance. Thank you for sharing it!
     
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  15. jim777

    jim777 Tele-Meister

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    A thing is only versatile to you if it does what you need it to do. If it does, it's versatile. If it doesn't, it isn't. If you don't need a trem, adding a trem does NOT make your guitar more versatile, it makes it less really due to the tuning instability added. I play Teles about 90% of the time around the house, absolutely LOVE that country twang on the bridge pickup but when I go out to jam with people I bring an Ibanez Jem, not because it's so versatile (though it is extremely versatile) but they are the easiest guitars to play I've ever had since I started playing in '72, and they easily handle music I don't play as often anymore for which the Teles aren't perfectly suited.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  16. EllenGtrGrl

    EllenGtrGrl Tele-Holic

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    Yep, I have a term for it - beefy twang. It's clarity and punch, combined with bottom end grunt, and (as long as you set the tone control right on the Tele and the tone controls right on your amp) without the tendency that some guitars (have despite your best efforts) to become shrill or muddy sounding - especially when the gain is cranked up.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  17. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Do you guys honestly think a Les Paul, Strat, 335, SG or Gretsch can’t twang, roar or be mellow and cross genres?

    Any guitar can. That is not unique to the Tele.
     
  18. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    I think bottom line coming out here is there are probably too many people who think they need X guitars when they could really learn to do most of it with 1, and it doesn't matter whether that 1 guitar is a Tele, Strat, Les Paul, ES, Ibanez, whatever..

    I will say one thing. None of these electric guitars do a good job at an acoustic sound, and I've yet to see an acoustic that can do a good job with distortion & high gain sounds. :)
     
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    All the factors you mention are part of what led me to after building all manner of many pickup guitars with bathtub routs and crazy switching systems; eventually determine that one Tele bridge pup and a vol knob could get me all the electric guitar sounds I needed, simply by varying my technique.
    Can't get a Strat neck sound exactly, but it will do that job just fine.
    In the end it's the music, not the gear.
     
  20. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, I think this is right on. I have three different electric guitars, not because I need them, but because I enjoy the variety. I could live with any one of them with no difficulty at all. If I had to, I'd choose the strat as an only electric (again - a strat was my only electric for 25+ years). But I could play just as much and just as well with only my tele or only my P90 semi-hollow. And I have to have an acoustic too, so I have one of those also... I've never been able to find a reason to want multiple acoustics though...

    -Ray
     
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