I have to admit, when I first started to play the guitar I thought Telecasters were ugly and inferior. I was a total snob, preferring the sleek lines of the Stratocaster. As I got older and started to pay more attention to guitars I discovered a new found respect for the Telecaster. That soon turned into curiosity, which led me to try a few out in guitar shops. Now I can really appreciate the Telecaster for it’s vintage styling and unique sound. In this Fender Player Telecaster review we’re going to take a look at the entry level Telecaster. We’ll look at it’s features and see how suitable it is for those looking to upgrade.
Background to Telecasters
The Telecaster was fist introduced by Leo Fender in 1951. At first people laughed at it, for it’s strange design. The impact the Telecaster had on the market is the stuff of legend. The Telecaster entered the market when rock and roll was beginning to mature. The rise of television helped it to gain notoriety in the hands of some of the biggest stars of the time.
Little Richard’s guitarist wielded a Telecaster introducing it to rock and roll fans. Muddy Waters introduced the Delta Blues scene to the Tele and artists like Buck Owens familiarized country fans all over the world. In the 1960’s the Tele was the preferred guitar for Keith Richards, with David Gilmour soon joining the regiments of super-star guitarists using Telecasters.
More colors were produced throughout the 60’s and humbucker pickups were added for the first time in the late 60’s further expanding the dynamic range of the Telecaster. Throughout the subsequent decades the Telecaster found itself in the hands of punk, indie and even heavy metal guitarists.
The Player Telecaster is mostly produced in Fender’s Mexican factory and was first released in 2006. Often described as an entry level Fender guitar, because of it’s price point, the Player still beats the pants off a lot of other brands!
Overview of The Fender Player Telecaster
The Player is a modern take on a classic guitar. Available in a number of colors, the sunburst finish (pictured) oozes vintage style. The body of the guitar is made from Alder, providing good resonance, with a gloss finish.
The neck is made of maple, which has a satin finish at the back and a gloss finish at the front. The satin finish allows you to easily maneuver around the fingerboard. Speaking of the fingerboard that’s also made of maple, giving bright tones with natural sustain.
The neck benefits from the C-Shaped profile, which makes it much more comfortable to play. One of Fender’s more modern features. There are 22 medium-jumbo frets, so plenty of room if you’re upgrading from something like a Squier. Simple black dot inlays mark out the fingerboard.
There are two pickup configuration options. Either two single coil pickups or two humbucker pickups. In both cases one of the pickups is located at the bridge and the other at the neck. The model with the humbuckers has a push/pull pot on the tone control knob, which enables you to use the pickups fully as humbuckers, or as single coils. Naturally the humbuckers will give you a bit more punch.
Pickup selection is controlled by the classic barrel switch, which enables you to select three positions:
- Bridge only
- Bridge and neck
- Neck only
Even with the single coil model the bridge and neck combination provides decent punch. Control is simple with tone and volume control knobs. The nut is made from synthetic bone, a compromise made to save from unnecessarily inflating the price.
The player is lighter than classic Telecasters, which is great for those who want the Tele sound without the traditional weight. The tuning hardware is good and it’ll hold it’s tune very well. It benefits from great quality control procedures in place at the Mexican factory and should require minimal if any set up.
It sounds incredible when played through clean channels, but turn up the gain and you can produce a variety of tones. As you’d expect it’s great for producing vintage sounds, from crunchy to fuzzy. It’ll pick up the nuances of your playing style and respond in turn.
The guitar comes equipped with a set of Fender nickel plated light string (.009’s). You might want to swap these if you prefer a different gauge, but they’re decent for a stock set of strings.
They say this is an entry level Fender. That’s just because Fender’s are expensive. No two ways about that. But the Player is a guitar you can gig with. It’ll faithfully serve you on stage until you get hooked and decide you want to upgrade to something a little more exclusive.
Here’s a short video to give you a flavor of the Player Telecaster.
Telecasters are great for those who crave a vintage feel. There’s a reason they’re still going strong decades after their release. The Player Telecaster gives a modern twist to a classic. Here are a few of the best bits:
- Outstanding Quality for Price
- Simple Controls & Layout
- Very Playable
There are a few drawbacks, which to be fair tend to be ubiquitous to Telecasters. Here are a few things that could be improved:
- Only One Cut-Away
- Fewer Pickup Configurations
- No Support For Tremolo
If you’re looking for something with the playability of modern guitars, but the look and sound of a classic then the Fender Player Telecaster should be high on your shortlist. The Player would be suitable for a beginner, thanks to the medium jumbo frets and C-shaped neck, however in reality it’ll suit those with some experience looking to upgrade to their first “proper” guitar.
The Player benefits from quality construction in Fender’s Mexican factory using quality materials. I like Fender Mexican guitars because they’re fantastic quality without spending thousands on a custom or guitars made at Fender’s American factory.
If you’re looking to upgrade from a beginner’s guitar, perhaps wanting something to use for gigging without blowing all your savings, then definitely consider the Player. If you’re looking for something more entry level, check out my post about the best electric guitars for beginners.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Now, follow in the footsteps of some of the all time greats and make some noise with your new Telecaster!
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