(Street: $1,249 and up, depending on color)
Fender Telecasters are part of a rich tradition of American music, guitars that have made history by changing – if not helping create – the sound of every genre of modern music. Country players like the Hag, blues giants like Muddy Waters, rockers like Keith Richards, even jazz players like Mike Stern, have all made their marks playing Telecasters.
One of the hottest electrics out there right now is Fender’s American Standard Tele, which has all the features that have made Teles great, plus a few more that will make some players even happier. With a hefty alder body (ash body on some colors), the electronics include a Fender Custom Shop Twisted Tele neck pickup and a Broadcaster bridge pickup that sound great. The neck pickup is nice for softer jazz and smoother blues tones, while the bridge pickup can summon up that classic James Burton – Brent Mason – Danny Gatton Tele sound that makes the instrument its own animal. Using the three-way switch to combine the pickups allows a player to dial up his or her individual flavor, depending on whether one is playing with or without a pick. The sky’s the limit with tone on this guitar.
Having said that, though, Fender has added something extra tone-wise here (and on the middle and bridge pickups of the American Standard Strat as well) with the no-load tone pot. This Tele has a single tone pot for both pickups, and it’s business as usual when it’s used in positions 1 through 9. But maxing out the pot to 10 results in more output and more treble, which changes the sounds of both pickups, especially the bridge pickup, turning it into, if desired, a treble machine that the late Roy Buchanan would have spent all night wringing squealing harmonics out of.
Also interesting here is the contoured back – the “belly cutaway” as some call it – making it fit one’s tummy a little better. As a guy who used to play a regular Tele five sets a night with the top of the back digging in under my ribs, I can see where this would be more comfortable after a couple hours, although it also depends on how low you wear the guitar. The string tree on the high E and B strings can help keep the guitar in tune and make it harder for them to pop out of the nut during strenuous pickin’, though that’s long been a subject of debate.
It means less and less in today’s rapidly-shrinking world, but there are a lot of players out there who will want to check out this axe for one simple reason: it’s American-made. Great guitars are coming from everywhere these days, but for the USA purists who want to go back to the well, this is a guitar to check out. A hardshell case is included along with a cable, strap, and polishing cloth that make it ready to plug in and play.