The Telecaster: From maligned to much loved

boris bubbanov

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You may not, but that's my experience. And as I wrote just before this, I got those sorts of comments all through the 90s, with some regularity. Never happened if I played a strat, not even one with a floyd. But the telecaster was often not appreciated, and sometimes even criticized. I can recall a rehearsal where the bass player said in a disappointed tone, "Why didn't you bring your G&L" which was a strat style. He really didn't like the tele. He associated it with country, which is as mistaken as could possibly be.
I hear you.

I am wondering if some of these guys either lived in areas not impacted by these attitudes, or they came along late enough not to have been exposed to the guff that Tele players would sometimes get when they showed up for an audition.

I encourage folks to go back through the Archives here at TDPRI and listen to what the less youthful players encountered at points in the past. Yes, it was considered "conventional wisdom" that trying to use a Tele could put you behind the 8 ball, and sometimes "conventional wisdom" gets overblown.

+

I just want to add, at the sad passing of Mickey Gilley, that there were a lot of people I knew who hated this resurgence in "country" or whatever that was, he helped spearhead. I remember just about buying a B-Bender at the Guitar Center in Harahan and the pushback I got really shocked me. I kept telling myself, the neck was too slim, but all the dirty looks I got sure didn't help (and I hadn't even plugged in yet!)
 

msalama

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You saw Joe Strummer live!

Did too. Was Roskilde Festival '85 if memory serves. Yah, the man had the same beat-up Telly he always had and they played an indifferent gig... and he kept on yelling to "switch those f*ing cameras off" when, IIRC, the local telly had capturing rights for everything, including the Clash... ach well, sorry for the hastiness of it all, but we DID visit Christiania beforehand, and as a result had a sizeable chunk of good Afghan - of which we had consumed a good bit before the Clash even hit the stage, truth be telt...

Oh to be a youngster again... :D
 
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Tele-friend

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Telecaster was the first guitar that I fell in love with, way back when I was a teenager. I still love the simple design, the beautiful shape of the body and the headstock.

The first one that got my attention was Andy Summer's tele, then Joe Strummer's and finally I 'discovered' Roy Buchanan.

This three guys played very different genres of music with a Tele and proved that it is truly a very versatile and beautiful instrument.
 

Toast

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I bought mine because I wanted a twangy guitar. I knew the guitar could rock because some of my favorite punk/rock bands played them. The other thing that sold me on the tele is its looks. I've never been disappointed with it.
 

mimmo

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Did too. Was Roskilde Festival '85 if memory serves. Yah, the man had the same beat-up Telly he always had and they played an indifferent gig... and he kept on yelling to "switch those f*ing cameras off" when, IIRC, the local telly had capturing rights for everything, including the Clash... ach well, sorry for the hastiness of it all, but we DID visit Christiania beforehand, and as a result had a sizeable chunk of good Afghan - of which we had consumed a good bit before the Clash even hit the stage, truth be telt...

Oh to be a youngster again... :D

What an amazing story!
 

msalama

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Yeah! But the band seemed fed up and stale by that time and it showed. Not on top form at all, sadly...
 

Dan German

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My experience was not that the Telecaster was maligned so much as it was overlooked. Not necessarily by guitarists, but by the public. Country music was not on my radar for much of my life, so I saw people playing Strats and LPs and 335s. My own playing was folk and 30s blues/jazz, so I payed little attention to what electrics were being played, even though I listened to/heard a lot of rock music. When I finally did start thinking about what type of guitar my heroes were actually playing, I had become a David Lindley/Ry Cooder fanboy, so the closest thing to a major brand on my radar was Danelectro. I think what flipped me was that I started taking guitar lessons (in the store where I bought my first Danelectro) from a guy who played a Telecaster (and a Telecaster 12 string, first I’d ever seen). He couldn’t have been farther from country, and he turned me on to Danny Gatton. The more I looked, the more I realized the Telecaster had been there all along in the music I listened to, I just hadn’t noticed. It’s been my #1 ever since (although that Danelectro I bought back then comes in a close second).
 

dlew919

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Meanwhile the much-loved Les Paul has become the "dad guitar" that none of the new bands would dare be seen playing.
I remember wanting a Les Paul, till I played one. Gorgeous instrument but I couldn’t get decent sounds out of it. Which was frustrating because everyone on record id heard could.

Must be a fender/gretsch man.
 

mimmo

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Indeed :( And to think how absolutely great they were just a bit earlier...

They really were "the only band that matters" IMHO, no doubt. I have all of their recordings, live concerts, vinyls, some special editions, books, dvd etc

BUT

I have never bought their last album, the scrap the crap one, because to me they are no more that band. Of course I would have loved to see them live, no matters the period the band was in!
 

ScottTunes

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Just a reminder: Clapton was playing a Tele in Mayall's Blues Breakers, when he was dubbed "God." That's the first one I ever saw (photos on album covers). At about the same time, Beck was playing a Tele in the Yardbirds, with Page on bass... Then Page played a Tele in Yardbirds, then Zep. Keef, of course, made a 5 string Tele famous. McCartney played a Tele Esquire in early to mid 60s. He actualy bought his, however. Whereas Harrison was given that beautiful but heavy rosewood Tele.

Muddy Waters played a Tele in the 50s & 60s...

Jazz and Rock-a-billy were played on Teles in the 50s. The only other twang guitars then were Gretsches.

Just spit-ballin' here... Not certain of the accuracy of my recollections...
 

ScottTunes

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By the way, my first "good" guitar was a '69 SG, which I bought from a friend in '70. Then moved to a Carvin (that looked like a dbl cut LP Jr) in '82.

My first Fender was an '83' MIK Strat (got the 10w amp for an extra penny with it). Second was a MIJ black guard Tele in '93. Wish I'd kept that one! I've had many Teles (built most of 'em) since.
 

arlum

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I fell in love with Telecasters the first time I heard James Burton play on a Ricky Nelson album and I've never changed my opinion. Simple. Hard. Basic. Nothing fancy. Yet ........ It just sounds fantastic!
 

t-ray

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My first guitar teacher hooked me up with my first real rig: a 72 Tele and 73 Twin Reverb.

I think I paid $500 for both pieces. Total!

Of course, I thought the setup was hopelessly boring and outdated. I wanted something more flashy and “metal”.

Yeah, I sold them off…for something, well, flashy and “metal”.
Same deal for me! In about 1981, I bought a mid-70's Tele and a silver face twin for $500 total. I ended up selling them a couple of years later - for $500. It was a killer combo, but too young to fully appreciate it.
 

Esquire Jones

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Same deal for me! In about 1981, I bought a mid-70's Tele and a silver face twin for $500 total. I ended up selling them a couple of years later - for $500. It was a killer combo, but too young to fully appreciate it.
My story exactly, except 1982 for me!

D’oh! 🤦‍♂️
 

JDB2

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In my world in the 1980s “good” guitarists played Gibson, Hamer, Jackson, Kramer, BC Rich, Ibanez.

Punk and indie players played Teles.

Fender Strats were played by rich kids whose fathers didn’t know any better.
 
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