March 10, 2012 - ModGuitar Senior Editor
Fender Standard Telecaster
The Fender Standard telecaster is a key guitar designs that has inspired generations of guitarists to pick up thine axe and play! Designed by Leo Fender, introduced in 1949 as the single pick-up Broadcaster and later the dual single coil pick-up Telecaster or “Tele”, as it is often called, was put into full production in 1950. Favored by country pickers and indie rockers alike, even ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springsteen plays a Telecaster – incidentally his is one of the very first off the production line.
Our review model is from around 2002 and was made in Mexico. This one has that classic mix of an Alder body, a one piece Maple neck, vintage style frets, a modern bridge assembly, sealed Fender tuners and standard controls and pick-ups. The color is Agave blue, which was used on Made in Mexico instruments by Fender for several years. It’s a light shade of blue with just a hint of metal flake. As you can see from the pictures below the Fender logo is the outlined and filled type found on MIM instruments from this period.*
*As opposed to Squire instruments of this period which had solid logos, earlier American made Fender logos and the current import standard line logos.
The serial number tells us a bit about the age of this instrument, as well as dates stamped on the neck heel, under the pick guard and in the neck pocket. These dates represent when individual components where manufactured or inspected and usually range a few weeks or months.
As musical styles shift and change from hard rock and heavy hum-bucker fueled tones to twangier single coil tones, the Telecaster finds a frequent resurgence in popularity. Make no mistake, the stock single standard Tele style pick-ups can bring the heat, but the end result is a bit less meaty than the Gibson Les Paul’s dual hum-bucker tone.
At the same time the Tele stands on its own when compared to the three single-coil equipped Fender Stratocaster. The Stratocaster has a little more tonal variation due to its three pickups being controlled with a five-way switch compared to a standard Tele three way switch. A lot of the telecaster’s charm is in its simplicity and the variety of tones that a good player can irk out of what is considered by many to be a bullet-proof guitar.
Our model lives up to Tele expectations. The Mexico manufactured Standard Telecaster does vary a bit from the American model, and some of the traditional Tele design ideals. When compared to more expensive American made Telecasters you’ll find that visually the quality of the wood may be better cosmetically and beyond that the selection of the wood for it’s tonal characteristics varies widely – what you get is still that tried and true recipe for success.