The Telecaster Deluxe is something of an indie baby, AND Fender just made it even better. By Peter Hodgson
Fender created the Telecaster Deluxe in 1973 in response to the higher levels of drive that players of the era were using. But the ‘70s weren’t exactly Fender’s golden years, and while you can find some damn good vintage examples, there are some turkeys out there as well. Fender’s quality control has come a long way from the dark days of the ‘70s, and these days, you can get Tele Deluxes in a variety of different series. The American Professional is the latest.
WHAT’S ON THE TELE?
This Tele’s body is made of solid ash, and our review model is a pretty light piece of wood compared to a lot of Telecasters I’ve played. Our model is black (and finished in glossy polyurethane) but you can also get it in Natural, three-colour Sunburst and Sonic Gray options. The neck is made of maple with a maple fingerboard, and there are 22 narrow tall frets. The neck is Fender’s super-comfy Modern C shape, and the fingerboard radius is 9.5” for a curvy, but not too curvy feel. The fretwork is very well executed, and the fit and finish of the entire guitar is pretty dang well done.
The electronics consist of a pair of Tim Shaw-designed Shawbucker pickups specifically for each position. Each pickup has its own volume and tone controls, and there’s a new treble-bleed circuit to ensure that the high end remains good and sparkly when you roll the volumes down. The bridge is a six-saddle, through-body Strat hardtail type with bent steel saddles, and the tuners are Fender Standard Cast/Sealed Staggered. The guitar ships with a TSA-approved and very high-quality hard case.
SHAW AS SHAW CAN BE
While a lot of players associate the Telecaster Deluxe with country, it’s really taken on a life of its own for indie and alternative players in recent years. True to form, the American Professional version can handle both very well. The cleans are sharp and clear, but not strident: since these are humbuckers, there’s a little more smoothness and less bite than you’d get with singles.
The neck pickup has a nice and full voice for clean chords, and the bridge pickup has a satisfying ‘chuck’ sound. Kick on the gain, though, and these pickups take on a different voice: the bridge pick up has a more rock-worthy, Foo Fighters-esque growl, while the neck pickup has a sweet, juicy attack which is great for strummed overdriven chords, single-note melodies and solos.
The playability is also a bit more forgiving than a regular Telecaster model: this feels a little more like a Strat than a Tele in some ways. That’s good news for folks who have wrestled with the Tele’s more stubborn tendencies.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you love the sound of a Telecaster Deluxe but you’ve always found the playability a bit rough or the sound too one-dimensional, this variant addresses those issues with ease and confidence. It’s a really great-playing guitar that sounds versatile and it looks the part as well.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Ash body
• Maple neck
• 22 medium tall frets
• Fender Shawbucker pickups
• Hard case
• Playable neck
• Distinctive clean and dirty tones
• Great case
• No single coil settings
• No rosewood fretboard option
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