The Telecaster: From maligned to much loved

MickM

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The first Teles I lusted after were the new Paisley/Flowered models for about $250. One of my elementary school classmates (was a drummer) dad had a music store around the corner from our school and sold Fender Guitars, amps and Rogers drums. When school was out if I had a dime I'd stop on the way/walk home and buy a pick so I didn't feel bad about hanging out and staring at the new stuff. (at the time I was 10 and was playing a use $20 Tiesco)
The store owner was a world class jazz drummer and would take his son, my age to sit in with bands at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Yea, the Kid was good too.
From the early '80s until the late '90s I bought and sold/traded 4-5 Teles that I just couldn't play the way they could be played. Finally in the early, maybe '06 I got a NoCaster RI and that was the turning point. I can't point out any single thing about it but I finally GOT what all the fuss was about. Nothing before or since has made it so easy to put a crowbar in my wallet and pry out the cash for another guitar. BEWARE!
 

Sax-son

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The image of the Telecaster in my mind has been when the up-and-coming musician with a passion who picks up a used Tele at a mom-and-pop music store or some pawn shop and says to himself, "I now have my weapon and I am going to conquer the world. It just has that vibe about it.
 

fretbuzzard

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Count me among the people who have a hard time understanding the “maligned” part. In the 25 years that I’ve been paying attention to such things my impression is that teles have been remarkably steady in terms of “cool.” Not a flash in the pan/flavor of the month/next big thing, but also not hopelessly lame/outdated/cringe-worthy.
 

lwaun

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Again, like a stuck record, that's been my experience. Also, as said elsewhere, get some issues of guitar magazines from the 80s and 90s, then compare them to guitar magazines from the last ten years. If you don't see the difference, then I am sure you have missed some episodes.
i have a guitar player magazine from 1989 and the cover story was Strat mania.
Myself I bought 4 strats in my life and 12 Tele's. Don't have any strats in the house.
 

Telecaster88

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If Davies or Hitchcock ever said aloud "hey folks, check out my cool guitar!" that would be big news to me.
Yeah, RH is about the antithesis of the "flashy player." It's all about the song and the mood. On his early solo albums, I loved the way his chiming, ghostly Tele drifted above the fingerpicked acoustic. Bright yet melancholy. It wasn't till much later that I realized one day how much of his style I'd unconsciously absorbed.
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.
I played in a band for awhile where the other guitarist played a Les Paul, and every once in awhile we'd trade off guitars for a lark, and boy that was a head scratcher. Love how they sound of course (and a Tele/LP combo in a band is rock n roll heaven), but they're not for me.
 

Blues Twanger

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Perhaps you've simply aged into a demographic that is more Tele friendly.

Lots of scenes out there with kids that still wouldn't take the stage with a Tele.

Sometimes it even feels any sort of recent increase in Tele visibility is now waning as some of the roots and Americana that brought them back out of the country world are fading again. They are always going to be popular where they are popular, but where they are popular may no longer be popular. Popular.
 
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cyclopean

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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”.
A tele into a twin is going to have a hard time giving you typical metal tones unless you stick at least one stomp box between them.
 

cyclopean

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In 80s pop world:

Telecasters were mainly for nostalgia acts like Springsteen. Kids played strats, superstrats, and weirdo guitars that looked good with DX7s.

There were exceptions like Andy Summers and Billy Gibbons. One of my friends played an Explorer and got made fun of. I liked that guy. I hope he still has that Explorer.

Country pickers were still playing tele-like objects, just with chorus and solid-state amps. Their tones were terrible until Pete Anderson came along.

I aged out in the 90s when Nirvana and grunge acts hit, and they reacted against the whole arena rock sound. I thought it was a good thing.

That's how I remember it.
On the other hand, both Bauhaus and the clash used teles. And so did the toy dolls.
 

Esquire Jones

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A tele into a twin is going to have a hard time giving you typical metal tones unless you stick at least one stomp box between them.
So, I remember my first distortion box, a yellow MXR Distortion +, and it didn’t sound like “metal” 🤘🏻 plugged into my Twin.

But I distinctly remember fondly the sound out of that rig, jamming with my friends in the basement, the smell of those tubes cooking in the Twin…

Those smells, those memories, are still there. I would love to have that simple rig back. It’s a classic. Live and learn.
 

swarfrat

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For the past 30 years my main guitar was a hard tail strat and I turned up my nose at teles. Until my nephew got one and we were playing through the same amp. I you think about it. A hard tail strat is kind of a Tele in drag anyway. I mean it looks Ike a strat. It quacks like a strat. But it's kinda not.
 

joebloggs13

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My first electric was a Gibson Les Paul. My second was a Tele. I still own both of those guitars. I have two Teles now. I never associated the Tele with any particular genre of music. Page played one, Roy B played one, Billy G played one....heck Malcolm Young had a Tele as a backup guitar in AC/DC...if that isn't a testament to what the guitar can do...I don't know what is. Also...listening to Greg Koch play one...that guy can play just about any genre of music with a Tele. It's a true Swiss Army knife of the guitar world.
 

Tele-friend

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Nobody mentioned James Hetfield from Metallica 😉

Screenshot_20220619-153612_Samsung Internet.jpg


Guitar was used on the “Black Album” for the intro on “The Unforgiven”, and later “Ronnie” and “Mama Said”.
 

Blues Twanger

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Seeing all the posts one could conclude it was never maligned. Perhaps it wasn't one of the darlings of the guitar world like it has been of late but it's been a part of recorded music of multiple genres in every era since it's debut.
 

DanglingNutslots

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I hated country and therefore had no interest in Teles. Through a long journey I ended up getting one and was absolutely gobsmacked over how good it was. Why did I wait so long?
I’m like you. I really jumped into the Tele waters last year with the purchase of 75th Anniversary with the Custom Shop Twiste Tele pickups. Completely changed my mind and now I used it all the time for rock and hard rock.
 

Alex_C

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I wonder why the incredible popularity? Will it last as long as the zombie craze did? We wonder.
Zombie's forever! Tele's have always been cool, imo. As a teenager, they weren't as cool as a Strat but neither was a Les Paul.
 

cyclopean

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So, I remember my first distortion box, a yellow MXR Distortion +, and it didn’t sound like “metal” 🤘🏻 plugged into my Twin.

But I distinctly remember fondly the sound out of that rig, jamming with my friends in the basement, the smell of those tubes cooking in the Twin…

Those smells, those memories, are still there. I would love to have that simple rig back. It’s a classic. Live and learn.
The distortion plus is one of my favorite pedals stack but it’s honestly more of an OD than a distortion. It’s not particularly metal.
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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IDK. Never been around a group that didn't appreciate a nice tele. I guess in the scenes I've been around.. they've always been regarded as a solid working man's guitar.
 

boris bubbanov

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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.
I agree that, I could hardly find anything new in a guitar shop, except those guitars you described above (plus Strats, but minus Teles). Punks and Indies used Used Guitars and so Jazzmasters, Jaguars and what have you.

I went into an old guitar store in Orlando (on Orange Blossom) called "The Guitar Den" in 2010 and every used and wore down Mid Florida Stratocaster was in storage in a room in the back there - with a lot of amps of noble pedigree but in doubtful condition. My suggestion is, these were the old guitars not of Rich Kids but of working, sweating musicians who had driven these things very hard and for a very long time. Wow, what a lot of used up, beat up fretwork and nasty looking saddles and bridges. I wanna say, forty of them. And so, which rich kids may have had 'em for a while, when they got tired of them, some working musician grabbed it and made ends meet with it. Playing Jimmy Buffet? Maybe. Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd? I hope so. Somebody got some worth out of them, I know that. A Strat was a quality guitar and people in the audience accepted that - that's a good thing.
 




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