Why everyone needs to own a telecaster at least once

By Will Swanson

 

The telecaster was Leo Fender’s original electric guitar, before the famous Stratocaster came into being but as we all know with guitars newer doesn’t always mean better.

It’s not a requirement for it to be a mid 50s one that’s worth $100,000 to give you the tele experience. It can be a Squier, a Hohner, basically just about anything of quality that has the tele styling and pickup arrangement to give you a taste.

The tele is a famous guitar on it’s own but as you look at who played one, or plays one, you will know there is far more to it than meets the eye. Prince played one, his number one guitar, John 5 plays them almost exclusively, Jim Root, Buck Owens, James Burton, Keith Richards even Jeff Beck is the owner of a few including his famous esquire. There was a great deal of music recorded on these. Everything from the twang they are known for to some of the heaviest metal to some of the most melodic guitar ballads and classic rock hits there is have been produced here.

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Some appreciate the tele because it’s a guitar that fights you, forces you to play better and with focus. Some appreciate the simplicity of the design and the connectivity it seems to have between all of it’s components, some just love the history and feel good playing it. I personally like teles for all of these reasons and between the dozen I have owned, or the ones I still own, I have found that they are all so very different but owning one will at least give you a glimpse into the potential they have.

The tele bridge pickup is what is responsible for most of the uniqueness in the sound coupled with the bridge and overall design of course, an esquire relies on only this one pickup and yet still somehow shows off when played right.

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The tele neck pickup adds a great deal of variety though and for whatever reason just about any type of pickup works in this design., I have played ones with the standard single coil, a great rhythm option. I have had ones with fat poles and they add a grunt. I have owned ones with real p90s, mini humbuckers and even full humbuckers and every single time they sound amazing and somehow just work with that slant mounted bridge single coil – but this is just my experience – but isn’t it time for you to try one for yourself .

And don’t dismiss it too quickly if it’s a sound you’re not used to or it fights you because eventually that becomes what endears it to you.

Have a look at our Current Issue “American Guitars”

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Featured Interviews with Joe Bonamassa, and Greg Howe as well as  Luthiers Gabriel Currie from EchoPark Guitars, John Monteleone, and a look at Benedetto Guitars after 48 years by CEO Howard Paul. The Photographers Vault by Derek Brad of his shoot of Joe Bonamassa at the State Theatre.

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3 comments

  1. charles Mayer - Reply

    I once owned a ’57 tele…bought it as a basket case in the early 70’s..it needed everything,, first it was covered
    with shiny formica,,took that off,,bleached the fingerboard. sanded the body down, finished it in correct
    color and played it for almost 20 years,,and then made a terrible mistake,,,i sold it,, I recently bought a
    squire vintage tele,,,not bad,,had the pine body,, I still have this one,,

  2. Steve T - Reply

    The Tele neck pickup was good enough for Jimmy Page on Stairway to Heaven…I’ve never had a
    problem with the neck pickup on any Tele, and I’ve owned, traded and bought loads.

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