Why a Tele for country music?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by revgsmall, Feb 14, 2008.


  1. revgsmall

    revgsmall Member

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    I just saw Brad Paisley on Letterman last night and of course he is playing a Tele styled guitar, I think there is little argument that he is a quality guitarist. My question is: is there a sonic/playabillity that is inherent in the Tele style guitar? Or perhaps is it more nostalgia/tradition that leads a large bunch of pickers to play the Tele for country?

    I've ued a Tele briefly but it was in a Blues band and I tended to favor the neck pickup. Therefore that experience is not that relevant.
     
  2. getbent

    getbent Member

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    The really core sounds in country are found frequently on a tele using the bridge pickup. That twangy, clean, sparkly sound just screams "tele".

    Teles make you play clean, no free lunch playing them, you need to be strong and overt. The bending in country tends to be precise (almost mechanical) which along with the bridge pickup gives you a sonic quality that sounded good in the late 50's and still sounds great.

    Paisley is a great guitar player and a master of the telecaster by all measures... Once you get hooked on the twang sound.. and playing teles your drive to play other guitars decreases. It is NOT for everyone... but for those who love them (a very large group) they play every kind of music but like: simplicity, to work for their tone, twang and the shape that is elegant and minimalist.

    Nostalgia is not the key. The guitar is just perfect as it is and it is timeless....
     
  3. revgsmall

    revgsmall Member

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    Very nice post, thank you.

    The band and I are starting to play a bit more country, mainly Hank William Sr. (talk about nostalgia!!!) I think it a total waste of time to try and peg his sound, we are more in the rockabilly/surf era.

    I am using a couple of Gretsch 512? somethings with DeArmond single coils. I am thinking about a tele just for some sonic differences for the country material. I do believe I will miss that Bigsby though. I did try a tele with a bigsby but that vibrato is a total different animal than what is on a 6120 type Gretsch. I think I would be better off with a standard tele bridge. I have noticed that alot of great Tele Country players have an incredible right hand for banjo styled plucking. I thought maybe that was an advantage to the bridge and bridge pickup on a Tele design. Unfortunately for me I am naturally left handed (playing in the standard right hand style/guitar) and my right hand does not have the dexterity as someone like Mr. Paisley. What to do. What to do.
     
  4. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    While I play Alt-country/Americana a lot of my guitar influences are the Tele pioneers & late 60's early 70's country rock artists.

    After years of playing strats ten years ago I switched to playing teles almost exclusively. For country stuff you need the definition of a bridge pickup but seeing as it won't be beefed up with a lot of gain you don't want it to be thin to begin with and for many strats the bridge pickup is the achilles heel.

    For me the key with the Tele was the fat twang & steely tone of that bridge pickup. It's a harder tone than say a strat (not having a reverb chamber sitting behind it!) but clearer than a humbucker and that solid slab of wood provides a sound that is very direct.
     
  5. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    get the tele, and listen to the bakersfield cats who first figured out what to do with this bizarre plank with strings on it in the '50s. (not like i can do it, but wow!)

    also, the middle (neck+bridge) setting will do rockabilly very nicely, and the tele has a real vibe for roots music in general.
     
  6. Pete Galati

    Pete Galati Member

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    I think Country has become very associated with the Tele. But I noticed that on a lot of the older video footage on youtube, there'll be plenty of guys playing off-brand guitars, and they'll be doing it with all sorts of "Twang". It's just that the Tele is rather ideal for the task, and they're as common as nails these days.

    Course, a lot of what gets called "Country" these days is just Rock music played by guys wearing cowboy hats. And they're using a lot of Les Pauls for that.
     
  7. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    And Eldon used to use a Strat.

    I love Teles. The both pick ups on thing is beautiful.

    Best, Pete.
     
  8. Birddog

    Birddog Member

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    Yep, the twang is the thang.
     
  9. 61Ephramite

    61Ephramite Supporting Member

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    Believe it or not, the "Bakersfield cats" WalterW mentioned primarily refers to Buck Owens who really milked the Tele sound. To get that sharp bite and definition in the Twang, try setting your amp's Treble almost full up, Mids about 3 and Bass 2; then roll your Tele's tone pot back about half to create the bottom tone. Add sufficient reverb, a compressor pedal, and some cheatin', broken hearted beer songs; yeah!

    Pete's also right about the LP's. The producers of L.A.'s 80's hair bands have moved into Nashville and have bought a large chunk of music real estate. The current formula is an acoustic playing vocal flanked by a couple of LP's. They could have at least used Strats.
     
  10. frisco kid

    frisco kid Member

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    Don Rich was one hell of a player and really cultivated the Bakersfield sound. Buck was never the same after Don died.
     
  11. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    Teles (in general) are able to produce a nice strong, clean, honkin' midrangey tone with lots of note separation and snap. The bridge design is a big part of that, as well as the way the pickup is mounted.
    As mentioned above, it's just such a simple design that just works.
    That being said, it's also a versatile little beast. I play a tele for just about every type of music (country included) and it fits em all.
     
  12. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    It was born at the junction of form and function, it's the Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods, as Bill Kirchen put it so succinctly. His work with Commander Cody or his solo stuff is well worth a listen. So's Redd Volkaert.
     
  13. redtoploader

    redtoploader Member

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    Why a tele? Because Leo introduced his new creation to the country/western swing artists on the west coast, and were the first endorsements. He used them as a sounding board for alot of products; they had a huge hand in developing how the amps ended up sounding too. He listened to his clients and gave them what they wanted. The 'strat' didnt come out til '54, so they tele was what they had, really.

    The bridge PU sound just ended up as the 'core' sound, along with hawaiian guitar(steel) which was very popular in the post war years.
     
  14. Lance

    Lance Member

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    Oh, and this thing we call the Tele definitely does a lot more than country. I very recently came into possession of a '65 Princeton Reverb. I wanted to see how my Tele would react with some distortion. So, I put my Tonebone Hot British pedal in front of that Princeton, and WOWZERS! Those killer Jeff Beck squeals gallore! Roll off the tone, and Eric Johnson would be proud. Of course you only have to have the gain on the dirt box at like 2 tops, with that Princeton cranked all the way up, and I was getting marvelous, and very controlled feedback. Really fun stuff! Yeah, I just recently got a Tele too, btw, and I am having so much fun with it, I can't believe I didn't get one 20 years ago. Some people are always late to the party.
     

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