You can call it whatever you want, but the real foolishness is trying to change someone's mind about it.
I'm on the fence. If you had humbucker pickups but a different body shape, you wouldn't call it a Les Paul, for example. I think the Tele pickup layout is so unique though, and not often seen on different guitar models, that it still invokes that Tele vibe even if some things are off.
Obviously not a Fender Telecaster with a capital T.
But if the discussion includes non-Fender variants on the design, then YES, definitely a tele.
Pickup configuration, bridge, natural colour with black pickguard, control panel... all very tele.
The body shape, single cutaway and headstock are all suggestive of a tele.
- no, it’s not a Telecaster. Those are made by Fender.
- is it close enough to have all of the essential INGREDIENTS of a Tele? Yes, IMO.
- it’s closer to being a Tele than anything else.
- haven’t heard it, but have all ideas it sounds like a Telecaster.
- it looks VERY cool
- if Prince had played one at the SB halftime show, chances are, people would have dug it
I think the OP should be happy with it (if he’s looking for a Tele sound), but accept that it’s a Tele-inspired guitar.
I'd say it’s Telecaster-inspired but not a Telecaster. It’s just too different from the original recipe, which allows room for a few small updates, but not nearly the kind of changes that guitar has.
I would think you’d be reluctant to pass that off as a Telecaster. Most people who create a design of their own would much rather downplay, if not flat out deny, any similarities it may have to a more famous and more common design, for fear of being labeled unoriginal and uninspired.
Talking about Fender and their stretching things... How about the Acoustasonic Telecaster? It has the same body outline and headstock, and that's about it for similarities. Not even the first time they visited this well, they did a fully acoustic "Telecaster" in the 00s. So, those are Telecasters because Fender tells us they are. If they built this it would be an "alternate universe" tele. But since it's not by Fender, I'm going to stick to my "no" vote.