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Which to buy: Road Worn Vintage 50's (MIM) or American Performer?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by timbo1972, Jan 7, 2021.

Which Telecaster should I buy?

  1. American Performer

    23 vote(s)
  2. Road Worn Vintage 50's MIM

    33 vote(s)
  1. big jimmy

    big jimmy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 10, 2004
    Melvis, TN.
    The one one that feels better and plays better to you. I played a used Eppiphone Dot at guitar center a few year ago that had the best playing neck (for me) that I had my hands on in a long time. I still cant figure out why I didn't buy that guitar and dream about it often. You can always mod to make it the guitar you want it to be.
    darkwaters and Bob M like this.
  2. alex1fly

    alex1fly TDPRI Member

    Nov 23, 2020
    OP - you say you're learning to play the guitar on a borrowed American Telecaster, and it's going well enough that you want to invest significant monies in your own instrument so you can keep learning, yes?

    The choice is simple, then - between the two options you've presented, get the American Performer. It'll be close to what you're playing on now, and it's designed for versatility and comfort for a wide range of players.

    The Vintera is a fine guitar, but if I may be so bold, I'd say there's no need to be drooling over aesthetics, vintage specs, marketing buzzwords or reliced guitars at this point in your playing career. You need an instrument that will deliver consistent results and serve you for years to come. There are peculiarities with vintage style instruments - nothing that can't be overcome, but then you're spending your time learning to setup the instrument rather than playing it. Or the instrument spends extra time (and your money) with a luthier. And believe me, DIY setups can be a very time-consuming activity.

    I'd only suggest getting the Vintera if you can put your hands on a bunch of Telecasters and the Vintera absolutely blows you away, significantly more than the other models. The feel of the neck will be the biggest thing to pay attention to. Bear in mind that a neck might feel good at first, but cramp your hand as you play day after day. Again, this is why I point you to the American Tele - it's neck is designed for a wider range of comfort for a wider range of hands, and you're still learning what works for you.

    What we forum posters like is based on our years of playing and tinkering on dozens of guitars. It doesn't matter what we would prefer for ourselves, if we like a particular tone circuit or fret style, etc. It's important to form your own preferences over time. With that in mind, the American Telecaster will give you a better baseline for the guitar as a musical instrument. The gloss and newness in appearance - your only complaint against the American model - will fade quickly as you handle the instrument, probably within a month or two.
    tele12 and Rustbucket like this.
  3. 50hz

    50hz Tele-Meister

    Dec 21, 2016
    The necks on these two are worlds apart. I'd strongly suggest you play them both before making your decision.
    sloppychops likes this.
  4. SmokinJoe992

    SmokinJoe992 TDPRI Member

    Jul 9, 2020
    Chattanooga, TN
    My .02 FWIW. The resale value on both guitars is pretty close. IME used roadworns sell just as quick if not quicker than anything Fender makes. For every guitar player that hates the relic look there are at least two that love it. Also you could play the hell out of that American Performer for 20 years and it will never look like the roadworn. With all that being said there is absolutely nothing wrong with either guitar. Get the one you like more!!!
    Bluesidae and nicknklv like this.
  5. AnthonyTele88

    AnthonyTele88 NEW MEMBER!

    Jan 5, 2021
    If you've only been playing 6 months, it'll take years before you notice a difference between an American made guitar and a Mexican made one. I've been playing 2.5 years and no chance I could tell a difference im quality, especially in the pickups. My ear is nowhere near good enough to tell a major difference. The quality of Mexican made guitars is so good.

    I'm not sure the price difference, but if its a big enough difference, I would get the MIM and save the rest for a nice amp. (Which amp do.you have now?)

    So it really comes down to feel. I just picked up a road worn 50s tele and I think its one of the best necks I've played (in my limited experience). I'm also with you on the road worn look... yes its fake, but It looks so damn nice! Haha
    RadioFM74 and Bluesidae like this.
  6. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

    Dec 10, 2017
    Tokyo, Japan

    Sometimes it can seem if people are far too picky over small things - ‘minute point X or Y is a deal breaker for me,’ etc.

    I certainly feel that way about some of the comments I read hereabouts. At times it seems ridiculous.

    But then I realise, I have similar concerns. They seem reasonable when it’s me :rolleyes:

    A lot of people argue, also reasonably, that the feel / playability of a guitar trumps everything. I get that and think it’s *largely* true. It seems to be logical and to make sense. It sounds very sensible, sound, practical and real world.

    It’s almost ironic - ignore your visual sensibilities, ignore your emotions and make practical, sensible choices. So you can play music - an activity which, when done to it’s fullest manifestation, is largely concerned with the expression of feelings, of emotion.

    We are very much visual animals. I strongly believe people should buy the guitar that speaks to them. If you like it, like the look of it, the idea of it, etc., you’re more likely to play it.

    Overall though, it’s a journey. My preferences for necks, by way of example, have changed over the years. I’m all for rounder radii and thicker soft V profiles now. But once I wasn’t. I suspect it’s a journey for everyone.

    All journeys have to start somewhere. My advice is to choose what speaks to you right now, and, if you don’t like the neck immediately, give it some time. Personally, I’ve found any initial ‘what the heck’s’ are often a matter of familiarity.

    Finally, to be practical for a moment, is it possible to order both and return one?

    RadioFM74, Bluesidae and sloppychops like this.
  7. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 2, 2006
    Since you can't go and try the guitars, get the American Performer .

    The Deluxe you have been playing has a 9 1/2" to 14" compound radius neck.

    The Road worn has a 7 1/4" radius and the Performer a 9 1/2" radius. The Performer will have the same width as the American Deluxe, also the rolled edges on the fingerboard, the narrower width of the Roadworn without the rolled edges will likely feel very different to you.

    The Performer neck will feel much more like what you are used to.
  8. sloppychops

    sloppychops Tele-Holic

    Nov 16, 2010
    You really need to try the Vintera RW neck before you buy. The 7.25" radius isn't for everyone.

    That said, I think it's a fabulous neck. I liked it so much I bought one and put it on my American Special.

    I think your heart is favoring the Road Worn, and I say go for it--if you can try a 7.25" radius neck first and find you like it. There's something liberating about a guitar that already has some nicks and dings. No fretting over that first ding you put on it.

    A good Road Worn is built as well as an American Performer--by Mexicans in Mexico instead of Mexicans in the US. Don't listen to the naysayers. Many of the cork sniffers who pooh-pooh the Road Worn have no issue with a Custom Shop Relic, which is also artificially aged (though with more artistry).
  9. Downsman

    Downsman Tele-Meister

    Mar 29, 2013
    East Sussex, UK
    As someone who took up playing late in life I vote for whichever one appeals to you the most at an almost emotional level. You want a guitar that when you look at it, you want to pick it up and play it. Learning can be a frustrating experience, licks or chords that just won't play the way that guy on Youtube is doing it. Anything that will keep you coming back for more is the right choice.

    In my personal experience, fingerboard radius, fret size and other things are such subtle differences that you need to be pretty experienced to really notice them. Assuming the guitar is set up properly that is (by you if you're into that sort of thing, or a local guitar tech). I've been playing for about 7 years now, have guitars with 7.25, 9.5 and 12" necks and I struggle to really notice a difference in the feel by radius alone. I have different guitars because I think they look beautiful on the wall and they inspire me to keep playing and different ones fit different moods or styles of music I like.
  10. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

    Dec 10, 2017
    Tokyo, Japan
    Right on.

    I play my newest guitar every day. It has tech specs that appeal to me, but really, I love it as an aesthetic thing. That’s why I always pick it up. I’m total rubbish as a player. But, I’m less rubbish recently cos I want to play it all the time.

    nicknklv and RadioFM74 like this.
  11. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 10, 2015
    Italy and Switzerland
    Hey, welcome to the forum!!

    Two quick comments to address two things in your OP:
    1. American is not necessarily "better" than Mexican. It's more important to get a tele that suits your tastes well in terms of specs, looks, sound, feel… Factor in the cost of a good set-up whichever you get. And a good set-up is usually the way to identify and correct any (minor) "quality" problems. For major quality problems, the answer is "return", be it Chinese, Mexican or American.
    2. IIRC Performers are finished in poly. The quality of poly is extreme *durability*. Don't expect it to wear.

    I'd choose based on:
    - neck profile … if it's like the regular Vintera, the RW has a nice chunk. The Performer has a modern C which is significantly slimmer.
    - "vintage" vs "modern" feel… radius and fret size are different, the pickups are likely different (does the performer have a metal base-plate on the bridge PU)? Don't get hung up on minutiae… but I'd ask myself whether I am going for a "traditional" tele feel or for something that's a little more modern.
    - more generally, which one I like best.

    As said, "try before buy" is not an option now, but if you buy with a good return policy you can still unmake your choice if you're unhappy with it.

    Me, I'd go Vintera – perhaps even not a road worn: the neck is right for me, the pickups are very good, and the overall feel of the guitar is the way I like teles. The one I tried was pretty close to my old American Vintage '52 – which I love, and this is the main reason why I did not get a little red Vintera!

    Happy quest!

    PS: assuming that they are the same as their non-relic counterparts (Vintera & Classic 50s) the Vintera Road Worn 50s and the older Road Worn 50s are not the same guitar. The neck, in particular, has undergone big changes, and I suspect the pickups too. Based on the neck alone, I'd rather pay a little more for a Vintera but as everyone pointed out, that's a matter of personal taste. GET THE GUITAR THAT SPEAKS TO YOU ;D
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
    nicknklv and TokyoPortrait like this.
  12. mojek

    mojek Tele-Meister

    Jul 2, 2014
    Praha, CZ
    Please, don’t take it personally, but you don’t know what you want.
    I have played fantastic light, resonant roadworn Telecaster, which i would prefer over HW1 Telecaster I played, which was heavy, buzzing non-comfortable guitar.
    It means, it depends very much on each and every guitar and very much on what YOU want.
    You want lighter guitar? You want reliced guitar look? Etc..
    I would go to the shop and choose the one i like better, not cause it´s just an US model. And for your amount of money I would start with secondhand, maybe american series or american standard, you can find used for less that new prices.
    What you see is what you get, there will be no secret magic expeted in the instrument other tahn what you yourself experience.
    Good luck:)
  13. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 7, 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Ive got a ‘70s road worn Tele deluxe and it’s fantastic! Never owned an American but I can vouch for the other. Win win.
  14. 66Satellite

    66Satellite Tele-Holic

    Aug 1, 2010
    On paper the Performer seems like the best choice but I've never liked them in person. Could be the jumbo frets.

    I have a feeling from the way you wrote your post that if you don't get the Road Worn it will kinda bug you.

    I'd get the Road Worn (will probably pick one up myself this year).
  15. Papa Che

    Papa Che TDPRI Member

    Dec 6, 2020
    I’m all about the neck feel! Full stop.

    I personally can’t play a Modern C neck. It feels like there is no neck in my hand. Feels like it’s made for children's hands :D The reason I could not keep the new SQ CV50’s. Otherwise a fine guitar.

    I tried the Fender MIM Nashville Tele and the modern C was again the deal breaker (bridge was also misaligned but we are not talking about such issues in this thread).

    I never played a thick soft V shape so decided to try the Vintera 50’s Modified and bingo! :D This is it for me. Search is over. I would prefer the nut to be 43mm but I can live with the 42mm.

    The guitar is just lovely sounding and playability is great. But will need some work as the nut slots are too tight and I plan to take down those plink-plonky 9’s and put my preferred 10’s.

    Also the truss rod adjusting is a bit annoying :D

    But the custom shop pickups sound great and the S1 switch as well as 5 way switch gives so many lively sounding options! Yes you read correct, 5 way switching :D

    I discovered that there is another neck + bridge option in between the 2nd and 3rd position. You got to place it in between but it stays there and the tone is lively open sounding and not as pushy as n+b in series (4th) or the more quacky n+b Parallel on the 2nd position.

    This is my keeper guitar and care not about resale value. This my babe until the day I die :D and it’s not heavy.

    Will bring to the luthier as soon shops open up again in Denmark as the nut needs work (even replacement) and the frets need a bit more of perfection in leveling but all in all, man, what a fine instrument.

    Wanted to share as someone mentioned Vintera Mod 50’s.
  16. John_B

    John_B Tele-Meister

    Jun 25, 2020
    I could go either way, really. I do have the hots for the cream colored maple neck Performer. I would still mod it with new pups and guts. I don't care for the stock electronics.
  17. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

    Jun 19, 2009
    Nashville TN
    I really like the 50's RW neck. U profile, 7.25 radius with tall frets... It just works for me. I'd recommend playing both before making a decision. Beyond the relic job, they're very different guitars.
  18. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jan 9, 2010
    gotta try them out and make sure you like before you buy. You really can't go wrong either way. I have owned a classic 60's strat and currently own a vintera 50's strat. Both are killer guitars- I prefer either to my 2011 American standard strat

    MAXXFIELD Tele-Meister

    Aug 19, 2020
    Try them both. Pick whichever. Understand many many more are coming.
  20. Mur

    Mur Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 30, 2004
    Never liked shiny new ...do like the "worn" concept.
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