Tele Tone: Modern vs. Vintage?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Boogie, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. Boogie

    Boogie Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    268
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    The Late Great Golden State
    I've read posts here and elsewhere that talk about modern vs. vintage Tele tone. My own observations from playing '90s and '00s American Teles with a 6-saddle bridge compared to vintage reissues is the modern tone is fatter and thicker with higher output and capable of good crunch rock tones, but roll off the volume knob and the sound is still unmistakably Tele. Whereas vintage is cleaner, snappier, thinner and distorted tones are sort of grainy.

    Is this the general consensus among players who have played lots and lots of different Teles?

    If this is accepted, perhaps the most important question is which electronic or physical properties of the guitars account for the differences?
     
  2. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    51,823
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Location:
    New Orleans, LA + in the
    I respect that point of view.

    I think, for me, the vintage specifications are better for me, since I have to have a solid clean tone and heavy rock tones are clearly secondary to that.

    The Modern Tele often has a thick guage, sometimes non metallic bridge plate and this means humbucking bridge pickups actually work as designed (and the steel of the plate doesn't disrupt the eddy lines and magnetic fields). The Modern Tele is set up with the pickup more recessed and the strings much closer to the pick guard. There's far more emphasis on sending a signal to a chain of pedals and other signal processing. The pickups tend to be much higher in Inductance and they're "hotter" and the whole idea is to utilize very little in the way of clean tones - instead various sorts of breakup/distortion.

    But I happen to gravitate towards the sounds you get from a No-Caster when dials get turned up and up. It doesn't sound "lesser" to me, like it does to you.

    ++

    I think at is very essence, the Distorted Guitar Sound is meant to dominate the mix of bass, drums and maybe keyboards, and to supplant things like horns and other stuff. The general approach of the Clean player is to share more turf with other instrumentalists and be part of an ensemble. Our job is, frankly, a different one. I might play off of a keyboard player, instead of trying to eliminate the need for one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
    LOSTVENTURE likes this.
  3. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,388
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Location:
    Italy and Switzerland
    I haven’t played lots and lots of teles, but no it does not really compute with my own experience. My 52 and 64 teles, with a good deal of gain, are not what I’d call “grainy”. They sing. Ditto for Robben’s 1960 tele:



    I think it’s a fab distorted sound, as is also the one on the Stairway to Heaven solo (a ’59 IIRC) and this American Vintage:



    (Man oh man…)

    When I A/Bd my former American Standard and Baja 60s, the AmStd was a bit more “polite” at all settings and the one snarling back at me with some gain was rather the Baja, with American Vintage pickups and 3-saddles.

    Note that the vid above is about the top of my gain needs, and I mostly dwell on clean/breakup tones, so I have no experience to offer for real high gain.
     
  4. Boogie

    Boogie Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    268
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    The Late Great Golden State
    I wouldn't say any of those examples sound bad, but it's very hard to compare someone else's tone to my own. Very different signal chains, different genres and playing styles and I can't possibly know what someone else's guitar feels and sounds like to that player.

    I haven't played lots and lots either; I'm only making comparisons between a very limited number of guitars through the same signal chain so as apples-to-apples as you can get. There is also difficulty in describing perceived tone with words; what sounds "warm" to one guy might sound "muddy" to another. Ditto with adjectives like bright, brittle, creamy, etc. "Grainy" is just what one guitar sounds like to me through my amp, although, for example, I might even describe some of Redd Volkaert's tones as grainy. The guy's an incredible player and his tone is great, don't get me wrong. That's just what my ears and brain hears.

    I guess I'm interested in hearing other people's comparisons. Your AmStd vs Baja comparison is an absolutely valid one, but it's one man's comparison between two guitars. It's appreciated nonetheless, thanks.
     
  5. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,137
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    I see it a little differently. To me there are three distinct vintage era sounds. Up to late '55 with the flush pole bridge pick ups delivering their own "browner" sound. Then ''55 to '63 with the staggered pole pieces giving a brighter, snappier sound. The automatic winders gave the rest of the '60's a consistent bright sound.

    Then comes the era of 1 meg pots during the '70's that can take the single coil sound to a harsher brightness to me.

    The '80's brought back the 250K pots for single coils and to me that helped a lot.

    Today you can get any kind of pick up sound you want. But I also feel the variety of effects, processors and modeling amps contribute to the modern sound too.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.