Why Telecaster?

Tele-friend

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Telecaster often seems as un underdog when compared to other guitars, like Les Paul and Strat. No trem arm, no body contours, only two knobs. Looks really rudimentary. The guitar makes you work a bit harder to get the job done, but if you do so, the result is very rewarding.
It is hard to answer, but the shape of Tele and the shape of the headstock is the most beautiful off all the guitars to me. It has been so since I was a teenager. And the sound of the Tele bridge pickup is just magical. Combined with more mellow and less punchy neck pickup, it is everything you need.
 

pippoman

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Simple and comfortable to play, with the vintage bridge that is. I'm comfortable with Les Paul-style guitars but not with strats; sometimes hitting the middle pickup and no comfortable rest for my picking hand. On a telecaster, I hook my pinky finger on the lower side of the vintage bridge. Modern tele bridges? No, thanks, and wouldn't own one.
That’s what Tele ownership is about - preferences that are easily achieved. Brent Mason seems to do okay with the modern bridge, but what does he know? I’m sitting here playing my American Original 60s and trying out your idea with the pinky on the underside of the bridge plate. I guess I move around too much with my picking hand for it to be an advantage, but if it works for you, carry on my friend.
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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Nothing sounds like a Tele. The tonal palette is super usable whether your play clean or dirty.

Every time I grab a Tele...I feel like I have a great tool. When I grab something else, I sometimes wish I had a Tele.

I can do Rock, Country, R&B, Blues, Funk, Reggae, and make it sound nice round, warm and sweet, or sharp, gritty and with attitude that has character.
 

telestratosonic

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That is a nice idea, never though to try that. I have the vintage bridge with the wall cut out there now. I will now get a real vintage type and try this. Cool tip!
Every now and then, when a similar Telecaster-related thread comes up, I'll mention that I use my pinky finger to anchor myself when picking.

The first time I mentioned this, several years ago, some guy named Redd Volkaert replied that he anchored his pinky finger on the underside of the bridge as well. Lol.
 

Kandinskyesque

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I was young and defiant. Now I’m old and defiant. I still play folk and everything else on an electric. My advice to you is simple. It’s only a guitar. Play what you like. Be really defiant. Get a LP. For Pete’s sake, it’s only a guitar. Find something meaningful to be defiant about.
I lasted a year with an LP in 1995, it never felt right and the tactile thing is important for me.

I possibly didn't articulate the story well enough.
I started playing Teles out of defiance/opposition when I was 14 in 1981, which in my book is perfectly reasonable behaviour for that age.

I've a lot more meaningful defiances these days, tartan skirts with no underwear being one of the milder ones.
 

telestratosonic

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My relationship with the Telecaster has been more complex and conflicted than most folks here. My first electric was a classic 50s style MIJ Tele that I bought on a whim 40 years ago. Trouble was, I didn’t like it and sold it about two years later. Don’t regret it for a moment.

A few years ago I thought I’d give Teles another try. Spent several years trying out different ones, but could never find one that I liked. I started thinking more deeply about the features of that long gone Tele that I had frankly hated. That finally led me to the one that I have now. It had at least some of the features that I was looking for and some modding took care of the rest. I finally have the one for me…. and it only took 40 years! Oh, and it’s a Squier!
I don't mod my high-end guitars but have no reservations about the cheaper guitars. The only things original on this made-in-Indonesia Squier Tele are the body and the neck. And I have a couple of necks, one a Warmouth, on stand-by.
I swapped out the modern bridge for a vintage bridge. The thru-holes didn't line up but it's a top-loader so it worked out and sounds great.
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mad dog

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Two things worked on me over time. First, seeing pics of Jesse Ed Davis playing teles with Taj Mahal. He looked cool and capable, and tele was part of it. The other thing: some bonehead brought a mid 60s RW board tele - white, no case - over to the house I lived in with others in Brooklyn NY. Left it there. Never came back to get it. (I didn't know the date exactly, but this was in '69 or so, and the guitar was clearly well used, not new.) I didn't spend much time with it, but never forgot how it looked and felt either. Somebody took it home eventually. Should have been me ...
 

ReverendRevolver

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I had a similar mindset as OP with tele, eventually.
When I started, they were ugly country guitars. But strats were so boring and common (and sounded bad on 3 of 5 positions on the switch). Humbuckers were cool though. But the shape of a tele grew on me, and while they weren't as awesome as offsets, they were easier to find, many players I admired used them (East Bay Ray, Mike Campbell, Joe Strummer, to name a few) and the headstock looked cool. Sound wise, 3 positions that sounded different and probably useable (although I didn't use neck pickup alone for many years), and bridge pickup was great.

Now, it's my main guitar. I might buy one of the MiJ Juniors so I can get one with a 24" scale neck for longer gigs, but teles sound how I want, play like I want, look like I want, and control how I want. I tried other stuff though. I like offsets too. But the tele is the appropriate tool for the job pretty much every time.
 

pippoman

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Every now and then, when a similar Telecaster-related thread comes up, I'll mention that I use my pinky finger to anchor myself when picking.

The first time I mentioned this, several years ago, some guy named Redd Volkaert replied that he anchored his pinky finger on the underside of the bridge as well. Lol.
Wow! How cool is that? Maybe he learned that technique from you!
 

Tommy Biggs

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I love the attack and immediacy or the Tele. The simplicity and effectiveness. The fact that it sounds so great in so many genres.
But I also love my LP and my Strat. They’ve all got their own sweet spots, I like to think I’ve learned how to use my gear to hit those spots. I’m all for breaking rules and doing crazy stuff, but I think it’s important to be able to do the traditional things well too.
 

WingedWords

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In 1975 I bought Tom Wheeler's excellent The Guitar Book.
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I was a committed, even militant, acoustic fingerpickin' folkie and my biggest ambition was for a Gibson J45 or lordy lordy a J200 like the one in a glass case in Selmers, Charing Cross Road. I knew nothing of electric guitars, had no interest.

So on about page 80 of Tom's book there's this picture.

20171108_112119.jpg

And wallop! suddenly I'm in love. I still am and still have no idea why. Never had a J45, still less a J200, but I've probably spent more hours with a Tele than anyone or anything else.
 

Telecaster88

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I started playing guitar in the age of pointy super Strats. My first guitar was a bright yellow Ibanez Strat copy. A few years later I wanted a "real guitar" and when I saw my Tele (avatar pic, '88 Am Std) I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. A number of my heroes played Teles (Dave Pirner, D. Boon, Robyn Hitchcock) and it seemed like a no nonsense, working guitar. It fit my punk aesthetic... No muss, no fuss. And it wasn't a Strat! (It took me thirty years, but eventually I came to love Strats too...)
 

Electric Warrior

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It's the midcentury "form follows function" stuff. The simplicity of the two knobs and three settings that yield a wide array of sounds. That anything and everything can be swapped out easily, even the neck or body.

For me, they are the trickiest guitar to set up properly but it led me to persevere and learn more than I would with any other model.
 

teletimetx

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I didn’t figure that getting any particular guitar would somehow make me sound or play like the guitarists I admired. Also, those folks all played different guitars from each other and different guitars over time.

I played a friends SG in high school; got an SG in the late 80’s. That was about it for awhile. One day, maybe 2003ish, there’s a Peavey T-style hanging in a local GC. For some reason, it just captured my attention.

Can’t explain it. Made in USA (‘95). Excellent playability, sort of homely, but with a “good personality”. FIIK. Candy apple red, maple fret board.

I didn’t take it home just then, but over the next week, couldn’t get it out of my mind. Maybe that was my 1st serious GAS attack.

Form, Function, sound, blah, blah, blah?

That one cheap homely guitar wanted me.

Finally, went back to the store and $175 later, I take it home. The start of a serious crush. 2011–ish I joined this TDPRI freak show and 3 more teles later, here we are.

In maybe 2015? I painted that Peavey Reactor in the colors of the Colorado state flag and in 2021 I gave that guitar to my long time bandmate (several bands, different line ups, but me and him, 18+ years). At the time, leaving TX for CO.

“Now you will always know where to find me”.

CDB2B04F-8289-4EC9-B513-9181DF25AD67.jpeg
 

tfarny

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I used to think they were ugly and old fashioned and never gave them any thought. NOBODY I knew in the 80s and 90s played one.
Now, I guess I'm playing different music, or my tastes have changed. I don't only play teles but if push came to shove that's the one guitar for me. I'm very certain that I didn't pick teles because of some oppositional impulse. Teles are quite in vogue now anyhow.

I think one under-appreciated aspect of guitar "choice" is the personal ergonomics of them. Do the hands fall in a natural place while playing? Is it easy to keep it "still" with your picking forearm? Do the controls make sense? I have tried so hard to be a "strat guy" but there are multiple ergonomic things about them that always make me sell.

I would definitely be more of a 330 / 335 kind of a guy if I didn't have to raise my right shoulder to an uncomfortably high position to play while sitting. But they certainly look much cooler to me, they can sound great, and they are more amenable to Bigsbys.

It's good to have choices!
 




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