I’ve recently become fascinated with the Fender Telecaster, a guitar design I’ve neither owned nor even played. Why the fascination with a guitar I’ve never owned? Well one reason might be the following Julian Lage video.
Sometime during the past five years, I saw Julian Lage play a concert. I was impressed he played through a ZT Lunchbox amp, the exact same model I own. But he wasn’t playing a telecaster that night. I would have remembered.
Telecaster Jazz is a Thing
It turns out that Telecaster Jazz is a thing. Among jazz guitarists who have or currently play telecasters are the following:
Ed Bickert, a Canadian jazz guitarist and one of the first I could find who played tele jazz.
- 1936 Gibson ES-150 Archtop (later became known as the Charile Christian guitar).
- 1946 Gibson P90 pickup
- 1949 Gibson ES-5 (triple pickup) and ES-175 archtops.
- 1951 Fender Telecaster, Precision Bass, Bassman Amp
- 1952 Gibson LP
- 1954 Fender Stratocaster
- 1958 Gibson ES-335, Flying V, Explorer & Modern
- 1959 Fender Jazzmaster
- 1960 Fender Jazz Bass
- 1961 Gibson SG
The same thing applies to telecasters as to my complaint about Fender Stratocasters. I recently posted articles about the Stratocaster where I complained about the proliferation of model variations making it difficult to understand what’s different about the guitars. (I’ve played, owned and loved Stratocasters though I guess I didn’t love them enough because I currently don’t own any).
The least expensive line of Fender Telecaster is the Squier Bullet series. For about $180 you can get a nice Telecaster in an assortment of finishes. This would make a great beginner’s guitar. (Following Images are my Amazon Affiliate links for which I earn money when you click or purchase item).
For about $400 to $450 you can get Squier Classic Vibe Series guitar, solid body or thinline, single coils or humbuckers.
A new Telecaster trying to emulate the fifties design specs is over $800. There are others, such as the Players series that are priced between the Squier models and this. One of the classic features this guitar has is a 7.25 inch fingerboard radius. This is extreme and not for everyone but I liked the feel of the Stratocaster I once owned with this radius.
Of course, you can spend much more than $1000 on a Telecaster.
Because the telecaster is such an old and iconic design, you can find many copies from other manufacturers covering all price points. Here is a link to inexpensive telecaster styled guitars and another to high-end versions of the telecaster.