Best value in a Tele?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by sosomething, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. sosomething

    sosomething Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Location:
    In da NAP liss!
    I'm stream-lining my stable, cutting out redundancy everywhere I find it. I'm going to be down to about four guitars when it's all said and done, and one of them is going to be a Telecaster.

    I've already decided that it's going to receive a Bare Knuckle Piledriver tele pup in the bridge spot, and have good locking tuners ready for it, so what I'm basically looking for is the best value in WOOD and construction without paying extra for nice pups and hardware. Fancy tops or super-boutiqiness divas need not apply - she is going to be a player and will likely share some rough nights with me in some rough environments.

    I know there is a plethora of tele nuts on this forum who really know their stuff, so help me out in choosing mine! Solid-color finishes and maple boards are favored, but not an absolute must.

    Thanks to all in advance. :)
     
  2. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,153
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    For production line guitars, the G&L ASAT Classic, except the hardware and pickups are already great.

    For custom luthiers, Saul Koll...
     
  3. sosomething

    sosomething Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Location:
    In da NAP liss!
    Sorry, reading back over my original post I realize I was too vague. I'm sure you're right about the ASAT being a great guitar, but I just can't jive with those G&L headstocks and the pickups look a tad wacky to me as well. I'm sort of a modern player with more of a classic taste for aesthetics.

    As for a Koll - out of all the amazing luthiers I've learned about since joining this forum a couple of years ago, he would be my absolute first choice in having a custom guitar made, but again let me be more clear: I'm going to beat the sh!t out of this thing - it's got to be under $700 tops.

    I'm basically looking for something that's going to beat the Fender Highway One in terms of quality and value. If that's possible, of course.
     
  4. webb

    webb Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Check out used american standard teles and play as many as you can.
    Should come in a little under budget too.:)
     
  5. Rollie

    Rollie Guest

    If you are going to replace the electronics anyway, it is hard to argue that a good mexican tele isn't the best value.
     
  6. guitarplayaman

    guitarplayaman Member

    Messages:
    1,155
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Nashvegas
    i just picked up a mexi made fender nashville tele and it smokes...gonna replace the bridge but after lowering the pickups...got it to sound great...got it for 489 at Guitar center...
     
  7. sosomething

    sosomething Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Location:
    In da NAP liss!
    Isn't it normal to experience some less-than-perfect fret work on the mexican models?

    I think I may have to go down to the local guitarmart and play about all of the teles on the wall.
     
  8. RL in Fla

    RL in Fla Member

    Messages:
    3,198
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2003
    Location:
    Future Cleanup Site
    Depends on the neck width/neck profile/fretboard radius you want .

    Run the racks at a GC or somewhere . MIM's and standard are a little narrower (vintage-y) neck , Muddy Waters is a tad chunkier than a H-One . "List" is 629 , but I got 500 "out the door" at GC on a Highway One . Mess with 'em .
    Fret are outstanding on the Ones .

    Double +1 "what they said" though on used , especially if you have pickups and tuners in hand . Compensated saddles and a tortoise guard and you're there . :D Jus go play a pile O twang and see .
     
  9. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

    Messages:
    553
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Location:
    Finland
    sosomething, I'm in the process of building up a Telecaster I've always wanted, but on a budget. I started buying a MIM Fender 50's classic Esquire, which has an ash body and a maple neck. I bought the guitar used, and it's feather weight and super resonant. I've always been very sceptical about MIM Fenders, 'cause all I've played in guitar stores have had real bad fretwork. Not the case at all with the Esquire, the fretwork is superb! It already had a Fralin pickup installed and now I've ordered a prewired kit plus a neck pickup, telecaster pickguard and Callaham compensated saddles from acmeguitarworks. I'll soon have a great Telecaster, and the budget has stayed very reasonable. I might do something about the finish still, it's polyester and I prefer nitro, but that's something for the snobs, I know, it isnt really that important. Anyway, a great guitar.
     
  10. sosomething

    sosomething Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Location:
    In da NAP liss!
    That may just be the way to go. I'm not the hugest fan of the vintage narrow necks with the super-round radius, but I still want it to be a Tele, so I've got to skirt the line a little bit.

    I've even considered grabbing the cheapest possible Squier tele, tossing everything but the body, and going from there. The only problem is that all of the ones I've seen seem to be made from something other than ash or alder. I'm not too jazzed about the idea of a poplar tele, right?

    As for nitro over poly - I used to think it was a just vintage snobbery that made people prefer nitro, but I've come to realize that it really is better. I had a beautiful PRS McCarty Rosewood with a natural 1-piece top for a long time, and aside from the neck, the thing always felt like it was made of plastic. The same goes for the bodies I had ordered from Warmoth for other projects - but compared to the Gibsons that I've owned, the feel always felt "restricted" and the acoustic sound seemed like I was hearing it through a thick layer of, well, plastic. Nothing seemed to ring out or feel as alive as the Gibsons, and I think it's due in large part to their nitro finish. YMMV, but I'm probably the furthest thing from a vintage snob (I don't have the attention span OR the budget to go that route) but it makes a big dif. to me.
     
  11. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

    Messages:
    553
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Location:
    Finland
    Actually the Esquire has a pretty chunky neck! I think it might be the chunkiest Fender neck I've played. It's C-shape, which normally are quite thin, but the neck on the Esquire is bigger than the V-neck on my AV57RI Strat.. And the 57 neck is probably the biggest one in production Fenders. I think the Esquire neck is bigger than the one on AV52RI Tele or atleast the same size (though different shape).

    And the fretwork is really good on the Esquire, I've heard positive comments about it from others as well. Maybe they've tried to make an impression with the new line, it was introduced in 1/2005.

    I like the vintage radius, although the frets are maybe tad bigger than normal vintage, which helps the playability as well.

    This is a really subjective topic, I've found.. It's hard to get any real evidence considering this. Actually nitro is a plastic as well. It's the same stuff they make ping pong balls of.. My educated guess about the finish business is that's it's more about the thickness the finish is applied with rather than the material.. I got my AV57RI strat about a year ago and was totally obsessed to get a nitro finished guitar.. I'm not so sure anymore. I really prefer nitro, it feels better and ages faster which I really like, but I also really love my '98 Telesonic, which is polyurethane.

    But anyway, it's all about the feel and if a player feels more comfortable with nitro and thinks it sounds better then that leads to better results, I guess. It's like the magic voodoo stuff with athletes, the order the hockey goalie puts his gear on and does it the same way year after year :)

    Well, maybe not exactly, but you get my point.. Anyway, I might refinish the Esquire in vintage blonde, but we'll see. If it was polyurethane I wouldnt mind, but the polyester is even worse I guess.. I really like the color though, I think it looks good on stage. Then again, nothing is cooler than a vintage blonde blackguard.
     
  12. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    36,873
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2002
    Location:
    Northern VA
    That's what I was thinking, too. Sure there's better but better value? Those MIM Teles can be pretty darn good if you have the patience to play a dozen or more and take the pick of the litter.
     
  13. Dave Yeats

    Dave Yeats Member

    Messages:
    77
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    Austin TX
    The MIM classic 50s guitars are fantastic. If you don't like the neck, there's a pretty good used market for those, and I bet you can come out pretty close to even-up if you sell the Fender to buy an Allparts or Warmoth. The vintage frets and fretboard radius are a cool thing, IMO. You might just like it.
     
  14. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

    Messages:
    553
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Location:
    Finland
    I'm not a technician but lately I've begun to think about how much I'm really willing(/and right now able ofcourse) to pay for Fenders. I think it's actually totally possible to get just as good (whatever in the world that means) Fender even if you start with MIM or other "low grade" building blocks. Fenders are very, very simple instruments, in my case an ash body with a bolted on one piece maple neck. If that combination resonates and rings well, I don't know what could be improved there even if it was CS or whatever. You just have to be very careful when choosing the instrument.

    Then theres always the cosmetic side of things, I really prefer nitro so there the higher end Fenders always win, but I can't stand the flame and birdseye necks of some CS Fenders, so that really leaves me confused. For example for a Tele lover a Fender CS Nocaster would be a no-brainer choice but the tacky neck on some of those really does not fit the instrument at all! And as I live in Finland and would have to order one sight unseen, it would be total lottery..

    Even if I had all the money in the world I would still be hesitated which Fender Tele to buy :) Maybe an old one then..

    This is totally off topic, but I think Gibsons are totally different on the other hand.. They are doing hell of a job with the new VOS series, which seems just totally perfect! I'm crazy with GAS for one of those even though I'm a total Fender guy.. It seems to be the perfect custom shop line, and the ageing seems just perfect, something between Fenders NOS and closet classic..
     
  15. rusmurf

    rusmurf Member

    Messages:
    187
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    Kensington, MD
    I'm thinking one of the best values you can find is probably the Rice stuff, in the dealer section. Lotta customization, and pretty low in price.
     
  16. sosomething

    sosomething Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Location:
    In da NAP liss!
    I agree with you 100%. As long as I get a couple of nice-sounding hunks of wood that are cut out right and put together well, I'm going to be happy. The Telecaster is not rocket science, and since I'm going to replace all the questionable parts I just can't justify (for myself) paying any more than 400-700 dollars for a body, neck, and a couple of screws. My only issue is that the neck itself has to be well-made and low-action and bend-friendly, which is what made me hesitate initially on going MIM.

    EDIT: Oh, and those Gibson VOS guitars are beyond cool.

    I posted this thread because I honestly know very little about tele specs from different models and years - I've never owned one before. I just know that I like the way they look and I like the way they sound in a rock application. Anything else is all-new to me.
     
  17. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

    Messages:
    553
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Location:
    Finland
    Yep, Telecasters are about as crude as an instrument gets, and that's why I love them!

    Actually I'm very very bummed about Fenders current catalogue, I think it sucks! Millions of models but not that many great ones, there always seems to be something wrong or you cant get the model you want in the color your want and so on.

    Anyway, even if they are simple instruments, if I had the money and there was a perfect model (not so orange and thick finished AV52RI could be a good starting point for instance) offered, I think I'd go "high end". Just because of the resale value and such. I had a very bad experience losing a wonderful Japanese strat which I'd modded in nearly any way possible to be just perfect in a fire and that's stuff that the insurance never pays back. It's much easier if you have an "approved" MIA instrument, it's far simpler value wise. But other than that, I couldnt care less!

    The Gibson VOS stuff has really got a hold of me.. They have found the perfect recipee for custom shop guitars, hope Fender take heed. About Gibsons still, it's far more justified to pay top dollars for those, the amount of work must be insanely different. The whole process of glueing the neck to the guitar, doing the fretboard and bingind, plekking and all that compared to the bolt on one piece maple neck of Fender. It's actually pretty confusing that the basic CS models between both manufacturers seem to cost the same..
     
  18. RL in Fla

    RL in Fla Member

    Messages:
    3,198
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2003
    Location:
    Future Cleanup Site
    As many Fenders and body/neck parts as there are out there getting put together and swapped around , it would be kinda cool if instead of offering 689 flavors of Teles , Fender would just sell parts to all of em and only build the setnecks ,the sigs and custom shops , and "floor models" for the rest . Like going in an AutoZone or Pepboys , except it's Fender . Like "Fender Shack" or "Fender City" .

    " Hey , Walt . I need a # 2 body / primer only , a #6 neck , a set of #2 tuners , a #7 bridge , a #24 pickup , a #32 Pickup , #1 switchplate , and a # 4 pickguard . " :D
     
  19. IndieHead

    IndieHead Member

    Messages:
    395
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Yo dude...there is a Squier Tele with an Alder body. see this http://www.apollonmusic.com/c_menu/squier/squier6.htm

    Ishibashi Music Store also carries the same models. For that price it's hard to beat. I ordered one and currently in the process of tweaking everything else. Will post the pics real soon.

    cheers.
     
  20. aquadog

    aquadog Member

    Messages:
    1,281
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    why not try to pick up a used Warmoth or USACG someone has already built.
    You can easily pick up a warmoth tele for 500-600, and then re-sell the pickups already in it. Parting it out as a good option as well, as I'd say its the best bang for the buck in terms of quality of materials and craftsmanship.
     

Share This Page