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So, now I *need* a Tele! Who will 101 me, please?

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
Gang, I'm not a huge guitar dude as most of my energy has been amps and effects and I have a #1 guitar but after a few days in Nashville I'm convinced I need a Tele!

I've toyed with a few of them and so far really loved the G.E. Smith model but don't know the first thing about Tele's or the 1-off's or anything to look for!

My playing is mostly jamband. I do some country and some classic American (think Mellencamp/Springstien). What I liked about the GE model is that it seemed a bit warmer and had all the Tele characteristics but also got some R&B flavors too!

Soooo... Please help me think through this with any suggestions or advice!!
 

Randaddy

Member
Messages
1,144
I'll give it a try...

Simple and powerful.
Lots of clarity and focus.
Nothing that's not needed, and everything that is.

Teles can be the perfect guitar in the right hands.
I'd say that when you play a bunch of them and find one that stands out to you (considering your style), go for it.
 

MrMunky

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,387
You might keep three things in mind when you begin thinking about teles:

1) Tele-style guitars with identical specifications vary dramatically in their tone and responsiveness from guitar to guitar. You can play 10 different examples of the same model tele that were built sequentially on the same assembly line and get 10 entirely different impressions.

2) Teles also range from outstanding to excellent in virtually all price ranges. I recently played a $350 Squier Vintage Vibe tele that captured well the tele character and responsiveness that I fell in love with years ago. And I have played dozens of Fender Custom Shop teles that cost more than I've ever spent on a guitar and that had no character at all.

3) Considerable variety exists among excellent teles. Stated differently, two or three or four different teles might be exceptionally responsive and produce gorgeous tones, but respond differently and produce different kinds of tones. This characteristic distinguishes teles from many other kinds of guitars, which can often be (at least theoretically measured) against some hypothetical ideal example of their kind.

In the light of these three qualities of teles, your best bet is to hang around guitar-playing buddies, guitar shops, shows, etc. until you find an experienced tele fanatic who has a tele that sounds and responds great, and see if you can persuade him to let you play it. You'll probably end up with a guitar in your hands that really speaks to you. Once you've done that, try and play whatever teles (of any kind) that are for sale you can. Eventually you'll happen upon one that speaks to you the same way, and that's the one to snag.

Alternatively, there are a few "Small Company Luthiers" that have the skill, resources, and talent to build a tele that is guaranteed to be at least "good". Teles from even the best of those builders vary, but there are a few Teles out there that you know will at least have that solid tele character from the name on the headstock.
 

gkoelling

Member
Messages
17,209
Considering the style of music you're playing, you NEED a Tele.

We all have different ears, likes and dislikes and yes, Tele's can vary from guitar to guitar. The best thing I can tell you is get out and play as many as you can. Make notes about what you like and don't like before buying.

However, while on your shopping/playing trips one knocks you over...buy it.

Good luck in your search.
 

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
Thanks all for your help!

Randaddy, that seems to be the common theme. Never knew they varied so greatly. WILD!

MrMunky, what brands are good "go to" brands for good classic Tele? Sadly, none of my amigos are Tele players. Sure some are single coilers, some even own Teles but none that do Tele's if you know what I mean! Oh, and it seems every musici store I walk into is filled with kids trying to play their favorite metal riffs.

gkoelling, ya know I never thought of bringing in a notebook! HA! Perfect! And yes, I love the just buy it approach. Returns are free!


BTW, does anyone know much about teh GE Smith one? Not much talk about it here.
 

84Bravo

Member
Messages
11,564
Play them unplugged. You can hear a whole lot of what's in there by playing a Tele unplugged. Good ones will really ring and resonate. Some say lighter is better, but I have found that it's better to just let the wood talk to you before you plug it in, then decide. Don't eliminate one that you think weighs too much. The neck shape, rosewood/maple, these are other considerations, but again, unplugged, in a quiet place, regardless of what woods, it should speak. If you play enough of them like this, you will eventually hear the difference. That's the one to plug in.
 

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
Thanks, 84! That is what I do. You dont' know how many times I've heard, "sir that room is for acoustics" as I have an electric in tow! I learned a long time ago that an electric that doesn't sound good unplugged can only sound okay plugged in!
 

John Thigpen

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,764
For real Tele expertise and fanaticism, go the the Telecaster Discussion Page Reissue.
http://www.tdpri.com/

Lots and lots of Tele talk there, including plenty on the GE Smith model. The main substantive difference is the way the bridge pickup is attached to the guitar. The GE bridge pickup is screwed into the body, whereas most Teles have the bridge pickup attached to the large bridgeplate, which is credited for lots of the Tele tone. GE Smith says screwing it to the body reduces feedback at high gain, and gives it some of that warmer tone you mentioned. Andy Summers' Tele bridge pickup is also screwed to the body, but underneath the traditional bridgeplate. The other main difference on the GE Smith is cosmetic...the fretboard markers are patterned after a lap steel that he had. It also has a huge neck...possibly larger than the Fender Custom Shop Nocaster.

The GE Smith gets good reviews, so I don't think you'll go wrong there. For less money, you can look at the 52 Reissue, the Baja or the classic 50's. All are patterned after the Telecasters of the early 50's with various differences. The last two are made in Mexico, and therefore cheaper, but generally considered good quality.

John
 

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
Thanks, John. I went there but didn't see the breadth of folks there that I see here. Maybe I'll try again. Thanks for confirming what I've read in more vague sources.

Thanks for the other suggestions like the Baja and 52 RI!
 

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
Thanks all! Took the plunge... Played about a dozen or so and picked up just as many more...



This one spoke to me! She felt and sounded and played exactly what in my mind "my Tele" would feel/sound/play like!

Can't recall which model she is right now. Frankly I bought, got home, played for a few hours and just was pleased as could be and never thought about models or specs! HA! This was truly and ear and feel thing.

(PS - she seemed to react better with amps w/o MID pots. I played her through the standard Fender RI line @ GC to match up with basically my amps and their Pro and my VV had her sounded the sweetest!)
 

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,083
Congrats! Your first Tele!

I wish I had my first - a '79 I bought brand new when I was a senior in high school, black with maple neck. I had it routed for a Seymour Duncan '59 in the neck.

It wasn't maybe a 'great' instrument but I loved it.

My current favorite production Tele is the G&L ASAT Classic.
 

yumanike

Member
Messages
87
Yeah, I'm going to need to know the model you got. That is gorgeous! I will one day have a Tele, I just need for the economy to pick up so I can get a job an all! Enjoy the twang that is your new guitar!
 

Jellecaster

Member
Messages
184
That is an American Standard.

The G.E. Smith is different on several counts. The neck is pretty large. About the only production neck that I've found that is bigger is on the Nocaster.

The difference in sound that you noticed stems from the fact that G.E. wanted the bridge pup screwed directly into the wood, rather than be suspended from the bridge. That classic Tele twang comes partially from the bridge. G.E. observed that the original lap steel guitars that Leo made before his first solid body electrics were built this way. So he had Fender slice the bridge in half and mount the pup to bare wood.

The other big difference is entirely cosmetic, and also comes from G.E.'s love of lap steels - the fret markers.

I personally LOVE the American Standard Tele (I have two). Great choice.
 

jaycee

Member
Messages
8,306
Nice! I'm new to the tele world also. I've never liked them for my almost 30 years of playing. I always kinda considered them 'old guy' guitars. (hmmm, maybe now that i'm almost 30 years older.....) Anyway, i picked up a Squire CV about 6 months ago and it's the only guitar i play at home. I love the sound, the versitality, the vibe, the look.....Now i have a blast sitting home learning some Gatton licks.....i love it. It's entirely different for me and totally broadening my horizons.

The only two teles that i liked prior to this was a late 50's and a 68. Those were the only two that i would;ve considered owning but couldn't afford either of them. And this was about 15 years ago.
 

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
Yumanike! Jellecaster hooked us up with that answer! Surprisingly I was able to pick this up new from GC for a very reasonable price!

Thanks Jellecaster! Appreciate you ID'ing my new axe! She plays like a dream! I actually HATE being at work right now since I'm jonesing to go back home and play her some more!!!! I dug the GE model (so it was called by the sales guy but I don't recall those lap steel markers maybe I was lied to?!) it had alot of tone and versatility but it didn't speak to me (to its defense only 1 other guitar ever has). This guitar did! It was love at first fret! Of course I tried others too but some I didn't ever toss on my knee before putting back! I never knew I'd be a Tele man til now!

Jaycee, I pull some amazing "Classic Americana" tones from this! It is alot more versatile that I ever imagined! I too thought they were only good for twangly jangly country - total one trick ponies. But they aren't. I won't go so far as GE Smith to say they are the most versatile guitars but they are not one trick ponies! I pulled off great country (of course), Tex-Mex (naturally), Americana, Southern Rock, and some jazzy bluesy stuff. Wouldn't be my first choice for blues or jazz but it did it well and the pickup hieght combined with string spacing made it wasy for fingerpicking jazz chords and accents!!!!

BTW, here is a funny... My GC guy is not in guitars so I pretty much nicely push off those guys... Well, I thought my mind was made up on this beauty. So I do my typical and work my way from the floor to the acoustic room. As I walk in, electric in hand feeling all bold, I hear "sir, you are taking an electric into the acoustic room." I reply to the young man, "I know. I want to actually hear the guitar." He replies, "but you can't plug in there as it will disrupt the others and.." I cut him off and said, "but you can't hear it then." I replied, "but you can..." he walked away and I heard a chuckle. He doesn't get it. But this guitar unplugged had MAJOR TONE! That's when the decision was made.

FYI, to anyone else Tele shopping the advice of all Tele's playing differently is 100% correct! Night and day! Also, IMO the glossy maple top really is "it" for a good tele sound and speed!!!

Also I found the Teles really loved the Fender amps w/o a mid pot! Then I did some reading and I think it was Jon Philips who said it's a fixed mid around 8 and BAM that was it! I never run my mids that high normally but WOW!
 




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