Question about typical tele sounds

Witcher

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 6, 2014
Posts
135
Location
Singapore
What would you guys say is the typical telecaster tone? I've played several telecasters, and many of them are different. some are thin and bitey, some are big and chunky. Is there a "typical" tone for a telecaster?
 

dlew919

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Aug 6, 2012
Posts
11,158
Location
Sydney
Not really. Theresa a range of tones, from The country guys to the soul guys to the rock guys to the jazz guys. Within there there’s a trebly space thing. But apart from that a Springsteen versus a cropper vs gatton vs mike stern?
 

dlew919

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Aug 6, 2012
Posts
11,158
Location
Sydney
Not really. Theresa a range of tones, from The country guys to the soul guys to the rock guys to the jazz guys. Within there there’s a trebly space thing. But apart from that a Springsteen versus a cropper vs gatton vs mike stern?
Also the neck, bridge and neck and bridge pickup pickup change things fundamentally
 

toomuchfun

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Posts
1,425
Location
PA, US
Just too many variables in the guitars (& amps) as well as technique to give a firm answer.

For me, the front pup can give a nice acoustic vibe with the tone rolled back some. It can also deliver a bright, full tone that works for rock, jazz, country and more.

The middle position adds more clarity to the notes for great lead definition. It also delivers a similar clarity for the rhythm. If I can't hear myself well in the mix switching to the middle position can put me back in.

The rear pup can be a viable rhythm setting, but for me it's to make a statement. loud and clear.

The great thing is a Telecaster can do many things for many people, these are just a few of mine.
 

AAT65

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
5,916
Location
West Lothian, Scotland
Listen to the guitars on the Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets live album. Everything from the Syd era is played on Telecasters, the later stuff is Strats, and to me at least the difference is very clear. So the clanging guitar sound on Interstellar Overdrive, Arnold Layne, Lucifer Sam, See Emily Play, Vegetable Man -- that's a great example of a typical Tele sound (though very far from being the only sounds if can make).
 

mimmo

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Posts
5,040
Age
46
Location
Paris France - Rome Italy
Listen to the guitars on the Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets live album. Everything from the Syd era is played on Telecasters, the later stuff is Strats, and to me at least the difference is very clear. So the clanging guitar sound on Interstellar Overdrive, Arnold Layne, Lucifer Sam, See Emily Play, Vegetable Man -- that's a great example of a typical Tele sound (though very far from being the only sounds if can make).

Great answer!
I went here to say the same and to add another (to me) typical telecaster sound: the mini solo on Thunder road by Bruce Springsteen.
Different sounds but this is what I hear in my head when I imagine THE Tele sound.
 

JesterR

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jul 8, 2009
Posts
1,241
Location
Russia, St.-Petersburg
One of the most surprisingly recognizable tele tone is Tom Morello Drop-D riffing.
You need tele neck pickups to get one. Not a strat, or any other. But with tele into Marshall you are immediately there.

But if we talk about the sound, which I imagine, when I see a tele: Brad Paisley bridge pickup tone with some grit and spank.
 

Tele-friend

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
Posts
1,173
Location
EU
I have heard many times that because Telecaster is such a simple design, each part plays a tremendous role in the sound/tone. Change the neck, bridge or pickups and you get a big change.
 

Killing Floor

Poster Extraordinaire
Silver Supporter
Joined
Feb 3, 2021
Posts
8,490
Location
Austin, TX
I would describe the typical Tele sound as the electric guitar track on lots of songs I like. Picture your favorite guitarist. If they are playing a Tele in your mind’s picture what you’re hearing when their song plays in your car radio is a Tele. If the picture you see is them holding a Strat then it’s not a Tele but a Strat. Bottom line is a single coil same distance from the bridge on a Tele sounds exactly the same on any body style. Hey, it might be a Kramer! And a humbucker on the neck side sounds the same if it’s a Tele Deluxe or a Strat HH.
That single coil slammed on the neck also sounds so similar on both. Move the Strat pickup a quarter inch and it’s the same. I understand pickups can’t make a minor difference in tone but it’s minuscule. Practically every famous Tele player I can think of also plays Strats and unless you were in the studio you don’t know which one is on the track.
But they definitely feel different to hold.

Or just say Twang and leave it at that.
 

pbenn

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Posts
1,451
Location
Toronto
Brass slugs versus steel slugs sound different, to me. More than pickup changes.
 

Jazzerstang

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Posts
1,234
Location
Blackstone Valley, USA
I say it’s a perfectly balanced sound that you can mold into pretty much any sound with the right player and amps and effects I suppose. I typically use mine when I am not sure what to expect when I am playing with folks… but then again, I usually use mine when I know what I will be playing anyway.

A good tele is like tonal tofu. It can take on any flavor you want. My main one certainly does. I think it has to do with the pickups (pre-2012 Fender Original Vintage).
 

Synchro

Tele-Holic
Joined
Mar 14, 2004
Posts
710
Location
Tucson, AZ.
I would opine that the bridge plays a huge role in the Tele’s sound. By switching pickups, and manipulating the controls, you can get a wide range of sounds from the average Tele, but the bridge design give the Telecaster the ability to have the “snap”, or perhaps the spank in the plank, that allows the Tele to shine for Country, Rock or Blues. I’m a Gretsch devotee, but keep some Telecasters just for that piercing bright sound which doesn‘t fall victim to the “ice pick“ syndrome.
 

TokyoPortrait

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Posts
4,101
Location
Tokyo, Japan
Hi.

Surprisingly tough question.

I don’t know. I suspect folk are right when they say there’s a fair degree of variation across the range, over the years.

I don’t know if I’m right, but my instinct / feeling is that other guitars *mostly / kinda* sound ‘variation of the same’ when you switch between pickups.

But Teles don’t. There’s a bigger leap between the front and rear, in particular.

And the bridge pickup, has *something.* it seems to be able to stamp its personally on any and everything, not the other way around.

I guess I agree with those above, who say (something to the effect), it’s the sound of the person or people you imagine playing them. Whether that’s Buck Owens, Keith Richards, Mike Campbell, Joe Strummer or Julian Lage, etc.

Pax/
Dean
 

AtlanticCity83

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 21, 2021
Posts
111
Location
Germany
Buck Owens/Buckaroos, Springsteen, Roy Buchanan, Albert Collins... typical Tele Sounds. There's not only one Tele-sound.

If you ask me, a Telecaster sound always has a twang in it. At least a bit!
 

T Prior

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
7,520
Location
Charlotte NC
Interesting discussion. I have a different take, as usual. I've been a Tele owner/player since the late 60's, yep I'm older than most here.

Heres the way I see it. Too many outside NON relevant sources . Do we buy a Tele and try to sound like someone else ? If so we may overlook exactly what the guitar can do for us. We sometimes go right past Homeplate !

What should they sound like ? I dunno. A reasonably nice bluesy bottom end and a not so ICE Picking Hi end appears to be the rule of the day. Seems like we can all (mostly) work with that.

Now I agree that many of them are just too dang bright or not bright enough but that's the joy of selecting a nice Tele.

Like many before me I've owned multiple Teles thru the years and tried various pups ,strings, saddles etc. I don't think I was ever trying to sound like someone else but I was trying to figure out what I sounded like, consistently, gig to gig. After many decades of different Teles , amps, pedals etc, I believe I found my way around 20 years ago. It was a bone stock 1989/52 RI. I tried changing PUPS on that guitar ( Lollars, various Fender Pups etc..) I always came back to the stock cloth wired vintage Fender offerings. Not sure what they call them now. No Caster , Broadcaster, Vintage 50's whatever...they are all the same, at least to my ears.

Today I am down to a handful of Teles, NO - they don't sound exactly the same , although similar, but I know how to make them each sound like ME . I've finally settled on a very simple pedal arrangement and only a few different amps used for different venues. But according to my bandmates, I sound the same regardless of which Tele or amp I may use.

Figuring out how WE sound is not easy. Sometimes we can't figure it out and blame the guitar. Maybe its not the guitar. I come from the "old school" of a Guitar, a cord and an amp. It was some sort of Tele and usually a Twin Reverb or a Super Reverb . Today if I happen to be looking at another Tele, its back to old school. Can I make it sound like me without all the fluff ? LOL. If I can't, I walk.

My Pedal Board is rather simplistic, a tuner, a Wampler Paisley Dual Drive Pedal and a NUX Atlantic Delay/Reverb. I had been using a Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive for a very long time , I recently changed over to the Wampler. They are similar. The amps I use are EL84 driven, Maz 38, Carvin Nomad or a Blues Jr. Well one exception, I use a cheap used Boss Katana 50 watter in the CLEAN mode for small lo volume duo gigs, surprisingly I still sound like me. I do not use any of the on board effects stuff, I always use the same small pedal board.

Regardless of which Tele I may use, of the Teles that I still own, I sound like me but that didn't come overnight. The ones that I fought with are long gone. The ones that let ME be the boss are still part of the fam.

I don't change pups and saddles and stuff, I just keep them as is, if they work for me great, If they don't well back to the wall or wherever they came from.

I want to sound like I'm playing a Telecaster-- whatever that may mean !

Thats all I got...
 
Last edited:




Top