- Fender Telecaster Buyers Guide
What is a Fender Telecaster?
The Fender Telecaster is one of the ‘big three’ mainstream electric guitar shapes, and the first to set a template for the modern solid body instrument. Every ensuing electric has been influenced by the Tele construction in some capacity; from the two pickups, to the fixed bridge and even the body woods and 25.5” scale length.
There are a handful of features that set the Telecaster apart from other guitars. Since the introduction of the ’52 model, the Tele hasn’t drifted too far from this original design - even in the colour department. You’ll still come across plenty of Butterscotch Blonde models.
Just like the Strat, the Tele underwent most of its major evolutions within the first 20 to 30 years of its existence. The majority of Fender Teles replicate ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘70s setups, with the newer guitars becoming more streamlined and versatile thanks to slimmer neck profiles, semi hollow body options and modern hardware.
Telecasters utilise a fixed bridge - either an ‘ashtray’ three saddle or six saddle, unlike the Stratocaster's floating trem. It provides stability at the cost of a little bit extra creative license. Most Teles also have just the two pickups. You’ll find a mix of two single coil, two humbucker or single coil bridge and humbucker neck configurations.
What Are The Best Telecasters?
As you’d expect, the Fender range of Telecasters is seriously extensive after several decades in the business. They cover a massive amount of sonic space, specific needs and prices. Luckily, Andertons have an incredible array of Tele guitars for you to browse. You won’t be missing out on that one guitar you’d love.
Squier are an offshoot brand of Fender and are trusted to make their entry level, affordable instruments. Small in price but no less mighty in sound, Squier Telecasters cover an amazing amount of tonal ground. Here you’ll find the Affinity series, offering serious bang for your buck in both traditional and modern styles.
The Classic Vibe series is the next step up in quality. This is the first Tele line-up we’ll come across that replicate vintage guitars, even housing some Fender-designed hardware and pickups. Both Squier and Fender have a reputation for building reliable instruments. The Classic Vibe certainly has the potential to replicate the long lifespan of their vintage counterparts.
Fender Player Tele
Unofficially known to many as the workhorse of the Fender line-up. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, gig-ready guitar, the Fender Player Tele is the pick of the bunch. These Teles are made in Fender’s Mexican factory, a stone’s throw from the American Arizona HQ. As part of a production line, Player series guitars are available at very reasonable prices for their high level of build quality.
Part of the beauty of the Player Tele is the stripped back, raw aesthetic. They’re packing just the basics; a choice between two single coils or two gritty alnico humbuckers, a modern C shape neck and 22 medium jumbo frets. Simple, yet highly proficient for a number of musical genres.
Fender Vintera Tele
Vintera Teles offer an extremely specific playing experience, from ‘50s, ‘60s and’70s era styles right down to pre-modded models. There’s plenty to catch your eye. Fancy a Tele with a Bigsby tremolo? Right here. Maybe a Thinline Tele with two fat sounding Wide Range humbuckers? Gotcha.
The Vintera range encapsulates every detail that put the Tele on the map. Fender gradually experimented with body woods from decade to decade and it's best exemplified here. The ‘50s Tele has an ash body, a weighty, light coloured wood favoured by guitar luthiers for its stability. ’60s models are made using Alder, a darker medium weight wood with a good amount of natural sustain.
Fender Deluxe Tele
A place where Fender can experiment with the Tele formula. The Fender Deluxe range takes the Tele and twists it into a new, niche design. Just check out the three single coil pickups on the Nashville version, just like you’d expect from a Strat.
It’s also a chance to play around with the hardware and electronics. They’ve added the likes of locking tuners to keep your guitar super stable and a five-way pickup switch for superior sonic versatility. If you find yourself leaning towards uncommon guitars, this could well be the line-up for you.
Fender Performer Tele
The first of the American made Telecasters. The Performer is, as the name suggests, a serious bit of guitar. It’s equipped to unleash top quality tone and deal with the rigours of extensive playing time. Fender have specifically narrowed down the Tele specs here, focussing on premium kit at a competitive price.
Not only will you find classic appointments like the three-saddle ashtray bridge and flat 9.5” radius rosewood fretboard, but you’ll get a super cool pickups upgrade, too. The Yosemite single coils provide a surprisingly high output thanks to staggered pole pieces, while the DoubleTap neck humbucker offers a thick, powerful sound. The Greasebucket circuitry also means you can roll off the high frequencies without adding low end.
Fender American Professional Tele
As the flagship range of Fender Telecasters, the American Professional has a lot to live up to. It delivers with absolute aplomb and maximum performance. This is the range that offers the purest of Tele playing experiences. The Tele has been moulded over decades of worldwide exposure into this current iteration.
Although not quite as diverse as the Vintera series, American Pro guitars have plenty to offer. Limited edition runs come and go and the staple pickup configuration, body wood and finish choices need to be made. Pro Teles use the Shawbuckers; a mature sounding humbucker delivering plenty of bite without being over-aggressive. The V-Mod single coils, meanwhile, are a combination of different alnico outputs - allowing you to truly customise your sound using the Treble Bleed Circuit.
Fender American Original Tele
Similar in standard to the Professional run, the American Original is the ultimate tribute to the Fender Tele of old. These beauties feature truly vintage specs such as low output alnico pickups, 21 tall frets and thick U neck to give you something to fill the hand. Give a little love to some old school blues, country and rock.
The best thing about the Original Tele is that you don’t have to sacrifice reliability for classic tone. As ever, these modern made Fenders are built to last a lifetime. They’ll age supremely well, too, with the Nitrocellulose Lacquer finishes.
Fender American Elite Tele
At the other end of the spectrum is the Elite series, which aims to provide the most complete modern playing experience within the Telecaster line-up. Out goes the old and in with the new, as these guitars are spec’d with the latest hardware and pickups in the familiar body shape we all love.
The neck spans a modern, asymmetrical C to D curvature with a gradual 9.5” rhythm radius at the low end, up to a shredtastic 14”. Add on the 22 medium jumbo frets and this is a mean lead guitar. The pickups are the best in noiseless design, allowing them to cut out unwanted hum and yield super pure, authentic Fender tone.
I know what you’re thinking, and no, they’re not strictly Telecasters. These hybrid electric /acoustics do share the same basic shape as the original, but that’s where similarities end. The Acoustasonic is Fender’s freshest take on the Tele – and guitars in general – for that matter.
Powered by a Fender and Fishman collaboration acoustic engine, the Acoustasonic delivers uncanny acoustic presence and electric guitar tone at the flick of a switch. A hollow mahogany body aids the rich low-end warmth when played acoustically, in addition to the intuitive Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS). Modern musicians are always after a convenient, yet quality way of covering all bases. The Acoustsonic certainly does the trick, and some.
Fender Custom Shop Tele
Imagine the best Fender Tele ever built. That dream can be made a reality in the Fender Custom Shop. It might even exist and is sitting in our warehouse with your name on. This is the playground of high-end guitars, of exciting finish options, an exploration of material, hardware and pickup configurations – the list is almost endless.
Andertons stock a number of incredible Custom Tele guitars of which us or Fender have picked the specs for. But you could also custom design your own guitar through us if you're after specific specs. The most popular custom finishes are the heavy relics, which look beaten up on purpose, we promise! You can pick from a number of relicing ‘levels’, including New Old Stock and Journeyman, which are lighter on the wear and tear. Custom Teles are the complete package.