Here is an early to mid 1990's Indonesian made Fender Telecaster. That is a mouthful of an instrument title and a description that should disqualify it from this blog. Nonetheless it is here, mostly because I wanted to write about the Telecaster and its place in music. I don't have an American made Tele(for good reason) so this guitar will have to be as good a stand in as you will find out there. The Tele is one of the most historic and revered guitars on the planet. The fact that I don't own a $30,000 model from the 1950's shouldn't disqualify it here.
If I was allowed only one electric guitar in my arsenal, than this Indonesian Tele would be it. This guitar as well as a little tiny 5 watt fender amp comprise my main recording rig and they give me everything that I need. I have played hundreds of contemporary American Telecasters in the $700-$1200 range and have yet to find one that I would trade for this one - which was incidentally purchased for around $250.
It has its quirks. the input jack tends to loosen up, the volume and tone knobs have a little wiggle in them and its not as hefty an instrument as the American made guitars. This last point may be a pro or a con depending on how heavy you like your instrument. The point was that it does not feel as substantial as some of its American made brothers.
I am able to live with all these quirks because I would repeatedly find similar quirks in the American made products when I would test them out. Why pay more to get the same(or lesser) instrument.
I can remember buying this guitar in a little shop called Maple Leaf Music in Brattleboro, VT. I had never heard a solid body electric guitar sound so good acoustically played as I strummed it without any amplification. If I couldn't have plugged it in, I probably would have bought the guitar anyway - sound unheard. I did get to plug it in and was very pleased. I can't tell you how many contemporary American Tele's I've played only to hear an extremely muddy neck pickup. This guitars neck pickup was right where I wanted it to be tonally and the bridge pickup sounded as Telelike as I could hope for.
I couldn't stand the bridge and saddles on the guitar so I had them replaced with an old school vintage style bridge plate as well as the vintage style brass saddles. This one upgrade/conversion gave the guitar a whole new look and vibe. I set the guitar up myself and have to do this rarely. The intonation holds, the neck has the right amount of relief in it and it sounds great. I use a heavier gauge 11-56 or 13-56 string on this guitar and it responds nicely to them. I can't stand the feeling of floppy super light gauge strings beneath my fingers on an electric guitar. I keep the action higher than most players would like - between the higher action and the heavier gauge strings, I can get the tone I want. Fast flyers would probably have a breakdown trying to play this instrument
Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico - It is hard to see these countries scrawled across the headstocks of these guitars. The Fender Telecaster is as American as it gets, yet here we stand in a new world of manufacturing where outsourcing is the norm. Would I pay one hundred more dollars for this guitar if it could be made in the USA, probably. Would I pay seven hundred more for the same privilege, probably not. It's my opinion that the loss of our manufacturing history is the biggest blow to the culture of our country.
You can read telecaster history just about anywhere, books have been written on the subject, so I won't get deep into it here. Nonetheless, the history is incredible. The amount of telecasters that came through Bakersfield, CA alone during the 50's and 60's is as good a piece of American music history that you will find. From Buck Owens and Don Rich to Merle Haggard to James Burton to Danny Gatton, Marty Stuart, Bruce Springsteen, Prince. The list of guitar players who work their trade with one of the most utilitarian and beautifully designed instruments ever is endless.
I hope to someday own an American Tele. I would particularly love to own a 50's vintage Tele, but I missed that boat a long time ago. Thankfully, the one I have is good enough for me.
|here is the back of the amp that is record with when i use the Tele. It's even simpler than the Tele. Only one knob.|
|the Vox Tonelab is a pretty handy little unit in the studio. I run the tele into the vox and the vox into the amp. wouldn't recommend for the stage as a fair amount of manipulation is required.|