AF’s Weblog

July 9, 2010

Fender American Special Telecaster Review

What’s left to say about the Telecaster? It’s contribution to the world of popular music is without doubt. For those still in the dark, some of the music history’s most memorable riffs were concocted on this divine piece of wood: “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones “I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, and “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen…

Even if the overall Telecaster shape has not greatly evolved since its conception in 1949, Fender cleverly knew how to modernize its model to adapt to changing musical fashions.  In addition, Fender needed to try to cope with, as best as possible, the burning needs of musicians who embraced technology.  Consequently, it’s not that easy to figure out what’s available from Fender considering how many versions of this model there are. There is something for all tastes and all purse sizes!  Between the Reissues, the Classic Series, the Custom, and Squiers, the Custom Shop Designed and so on, we find ourselves faced with a plethora of guitars with prices ranging from affordable to sick or even more in some cases …

A Body to Die For…

Unveiled for the first time at the 2010 NAMM show, and available to the public since January 2010, the “American Telecaster Special” is available in only two colors: “Olympic White” (the model to be tested) or “3 Color Sunburst”, both with a black three-ply plaque (black / white / black) and 8 nuts.  The alder body has a contour based on the body shape of 1970s’ Telecasters.  The gloss finish is urethane type.  For those unfamiliar with the world of guitar craftsmanship, urethane finish is widely used now on most electric guitars.  It is very thick and very resistant to shocks.   Only problem, it does not leave much room for the wood to breathe.   The color “Olympic White” is reminiscent of the original color of the first Telecasters in the early 50s. Like all American Standard models, adjusting the neck with Truss Rod screwdriver will be at the head of the instrument in front of the saddle.  Not aesthetically pleasing to my taste, but oh so handy!

The neck has a “C” profile with a pitch of 25.5 inches (648mm) and it has a radius of 9.5 inches (241 mm).  One piece only, the neck is of solid maple wood without an attached fingerboard.  22 jumbo frets adorn the neck.  Its finish, satin, is applied in very thin layers. Yes, comfort is optimal.  While ordinarily I do not like this type of finish, I must confess that this finish’s soft attribute is very graceful.  As a result, the hand glides and strokes the full length of the neck effortlessly.  Dare I say that we found almost the sensation of nitrocellulose lacquer worn out by time and polished by the countless hand strokes while playing over the years.   To see how it will age, and whether or not the neck finish remains velvety, only time will tell.  The Fender motifs  is of Fender Vintage Seventies style.  The guitar is fitted with 009/042 string gauges, but deserved a 10-46 pulling power to purge out everything it has in its stomach. The “Fender Standard” mechanics play their part, but in any case I cannot guarantee a perfect pitch if you start to torture the guitar with the most diabolical “bends”!

Now let’s strip the guitar…

Conclusion

This new American Special Telecaster guitar today shares a lot of traits with its cousins “Highway One” models, “Reissue Classic”, and finally, the famous “American Standard Series” fer-de-lance catalog mark hailing from the city of Fullerton.  Its ergonomics is simple, its finish clean, it is light weight with perfect mass load distribution. What else can we ask for with the price tag of $1099 for an instrument born and raised in the USA?

If you are looking for a Telecaster with a more “roots” sound in the same price range, move over to the more affordable Baja model, or the Classic Series models, both made in Mexico featuring pickups which offer more sonic dearth. If you opt more for a guitar with a less typical “retro” sound, then you’ve come to the right place.

Advantages:

  • Fender Deluxe Case
  • The price is very affordable for a USA made
  • Reliability
  • Quality pickups
  • Finish

Drawbacks:

  • A lack of color choice (only two)
  • No hard case (probably to reduce costs)

To read the full detailed review with sound samples please see:  Fender American Special Telecaster

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