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Who Is Your Favorite Telecaster Builder?

Lt Dak

Silver Supporting Member
There are some great posts in this thread.

So does Fujigen
Yes they do! I have been thoroughly impressed with the floral Fender Tele I recently got. Great build quality. I think the only thing I want to change is the frets, but that's just owing to preference more than anything.

And to those who keep mentioning that only fenders are "telecasters" and non-fenders are "T style," we get it. You're smart. And yes, fender makes great telecasters.

For many of us, "Tele" or "telecaster" is shorthand for a type of guitar. It might not be technically correct. So what?

Agent 42

I have a strong recommendation.
I had a T type non-Fender, which got me addicted to telecaster's, but all the common issues, and trying to find improved pickups, (Awful 60 cycle hum Noise) I probably went through 5 different classic pickup sets, even tried boutique noiseless, and the brass saddles would not intonate well, so the guitar eventually got sold. But I kept playing and trying telecaster's every time I went to guitar Center. I just knew that I wanted an improved high quality telecaster, I finally ran into my dream guitar. I've probably owned nearly 40 different top shelf top quality guitars in 15 years of searching for truly satisfying tone. I only have 4 guitars currently which are the best of the best. and the telecaster seems to be number one

The Fender telecaster elite: is available with several different woods and fingerboards,customize yourself by just picking a different one off the shelf, the N4 noiseless pickups, are simply spectacular, I purchased one with a maple cap, it adds a slight flavor, I can't wait to get home and play the guitar every day. it covers every song I know Check out the specifications it's very close to the guitar you want, guitar center has some special run elites. every detail seems to be thought of. Compound radius rounded heel locking tuners.
Here's my fantastic beast Fender knows how to do it. I was not super impressed with the N4 winds on the Stratocaster, as some of the subtlety was missing, and some of the top and chime was missing and very bassy. But the telecaster N4's are mind blowingly different from the strat wind and superior. Also superior To the other 5 sets of telecaster pickups I've tried, I cannot recommend the telecaster elite enough. clean delicate subtle twangy, nasty smooth vocal center position slightly out of phase in the parallel position, I cannot seem to find a bad tone.



Gold Supporting Member
K-Line. Very approachable, top notch builds and attention to detail.
I've only ever had a used Kirn but it was fantastic as well, plus I like Ron's contributions to this forum.
EDIT: whatever Tele build you get I can recommend Rutter's bridge and saddles, they are fantastic and bring every build to life. In fact I think Rutter's may do complete guitar builds as well, something to consider.


Silver Supporting Member
The three 1980s G&L ASATs (and two I still have) I've owned have been the top of the heap of the "tele"s I've owned.
My first good quality guitar was a '97 Fender "California Series" Telecaster. Upgraded the pickups, wiring, bridge, saddles, strap pins. Still a great guitar and I play it all the time.


Dude... to the Fender police - it is very pedantic to say only Fender makes a Telecaster. In trademark - of course that's true. In the physical universe in which we live - a Tele shaped body made of ash/alder, has the proper bridge, pickups and a maple neck (with or without a RW fretboard) its a freaking Tele. Its a simple formula that's been around for 66 years and is practically open source since the trademark is only the 2 dimensional headstock shape.

My favorite Tele builders would be:

- although, I know they are controversial. They make some impeccable guitars AFAICT

Now, he isn't a Tele builder - but my actual favorite is Saul Koll. He's built a handful of great examples including my own. Not sure if he will still build one, but he builds amazing guitars and is an even cooler person. Just a long wait... (usually).
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Senior member Professional musician ...
Double Platinum Member
I'm all in on a Crook!! If it's good enough for Brad is good enough for me.. :D

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Here’s my Kelly. These aren’t everyone’s thing, but this is the only Tele style guitar I own.



I have been playing teles for a long while now and my take is this. You can get a good telecaster from a lot of different places at a lot of different price points including building it yourself OR off the shelf from Fender but I found the best consistency comes from the custom builders like Danocaster, Nacho, and even Underwood. There are more pretty looking teles out there than great sounding/feeling ones. The business model obviously changes in those instances and long waits, unreliable builders, and lack of true custom options become concerns but if I had to buy a tele sight unseen to record an important session I would most certainly grab from one of those guys. If you got the time to sort through A LOT of guitars, you can get a deal on a great tele buying elsewhere(there are even some good squire guitars) but I would much rather spend that time playing music than scouting every guitar shop I can find for months/years. A really good guitar can play effortlessly, sounds amazing in all positions, and even gives you that feedback from the guitar's vibration that I find critical in establishing a visceral "feel". My experience is guys like Dano keep that in mind with every build in a way that mass produced guitars can't compete with - even the fender "custom shop" ones. It all really depends on what you want - your definition of a great tele might be totally different from mine. I'm just telling you what works for me.


Cool topic. I've been passively shopping for a T style for the last year but haven't bought one yet. My first world problem is that I picked up a special edition blackguard Mexi Tele at GC a few years back for next to nothing, swapped in Lollar Special T's and a Callaham bridge. Then I had my setup guy block sand down/smooth out the factory poly on the back of the next and the thing plays/sounds great. I own some spendy guitars that I hesitate to drag to my bar gigs where I'm making a $100 and everywhere I go people compliment the tone. My ego would prefer that I show up with something to show off to my guitar player friends but...


Me. Nothing beats a partscaster.

I’m with BeachBum! Nothing beats putting together your own partscaster. Personally, I like to use cherry-picked Fender brand necks and bodies, combine as desired... complete the rest with components of choice. I’ve put together instruments that are exceptionally pleasing to play and that sound as good as any Tele made by anyone.

Unless you’re talking about guitars starting with cheaply made components, slapped together with little care, most Teles can be made to play very well and (usually through pickup and pot selections) sound as good as any other. When it comes to tone and playability, there is little daylight between the best, most expensive Teles and most other well-made Teles that sell for a fraction of the price of those $$$$$ Teles. Of course, if you spent thousands of dollars on a Tele (CS or 3rd party maker) you’re going to think the guitar was made of gold by angels in heaven, to justify the exorbitant cost. The reality is that you don’t have to spend thousands to have a great playing and superb sounding Tele.

This is but one of a dozen or so that I’ve put together, exactly to my preferences. Fender 2018 Professional Neck and Fender 2013 American Standard body... all the rest of the parts were also individually sourced. Plays with the best of them and sounds every bit as glorious as any Tele out there. I spent about a grand putting it together and love everything about it.

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Silver Supporting Member
I’m surprised no one has said LSL yet. I have a swamp ash body with a nice big neck that is an incredible player.


I have a Korean made Fender set neck FMT HH ( flame maple top, humbucker, humbucker) that I bought back in 2005? I replaced the stock crap pickups with Seymour Duncans and this thing rocks!!. All of my friends want it. They tell n me it is the best sounding Tele they have ever played. Even Joe Walsh has played one in at least one Eagles concert video I saw. It has a super fast neck with excellent build quality. Paid about 500$ for it new.


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