Review of Fender American Standard Telecaster -
It's the granddaddy of them all - and yet it's still going strong:
Fender's immortal Telecaster. But how good are the current versions
and does Leo's first thought still stand up to modern demands? Rick
Graham gets analytical.
Having been rocking the world now for over half a century, the
guitar that makes up one quarter of Fender's classic quartet of
instruments, the Telecaster, has seen a variety of changes over the
years - some successful, some less so. The most recent occurred in
2008, the most notable of which was the inclusion of a six saddle
bridge, veering the Tele into a more Strat-like territory and
which, according to Fender. was not just for intonation but also
offered a much improved and less compressed sound.
For 2012, the six saddle bridge remains firmly in place but this
time round they are placed on an open sided brass bridgeplate. It
also features longer string slot holes in the bent steel saddles to
ensure and easier transition and placement of the strings. Other
features new for 2012 include a new ribcage contour shaping as
opposed to the standard 'plank' like shape of older Teles, which
for some will come as a very welcome upgrade, and the addition of
new custom shop Fender pickups. In the bridge position is a
'Broadcaster' pickup and in the neck position sits the 'Twisted
Tele' single coil, which was formulated in Fender's custom shop but
has now found itself as being a part of the American Standard Tele
The neck has a much slimmer profile than some Tele die-hards
will be familiar with, adopting Fenders 'C' shape and as a
consequence will feel a little more modern, or dare I say it, less
vintage, a sense complemented by a flatter radius of 9.5 inches
instead of 7.25 inches. Couple that radius with the medium jumbo
frets and you have a very playable guitar with a slightly more
There is also 'behind the nut' truss rod adjustment access and
on the four screw neck plate you'll find the micro-tilt neck pitch
adjustment system, enabling quick and easy adjustments compared
with those on vintage Fenders.
The new Jade Pearl Metallic finish, as sported by our review
guitar, looks very classy indeed adding even further to its already
But is it any good? In action, it is quite simply stunning!
While it's true that I have a soft spot for Teles generally,
there's no doubt in my mind that the benchmark Fender originally
set for American built instruments remains exceptionally high.
The first test, as always, as a quick burst unamplified and, as
you would hope, the Telecaster was really resonant - though a
little brighter than some I have tried in the past. The intonation
was absolutely spot-on, meanwhile, and the playability was a breeze
and somehow still seemed to retain that classic feel, even with the
more modern upgrades found on this version.
Plugged in, the bridge pickup offered all of the classic Rock
tones that Teles are so well known for and the 'Twisted Tele' in
the neck position always sounded nice and full, with an addictive
warmth to the tone but with plenty of attitude too. That said, the
neck pickup did sound a touch brighter than I'd expected, giving
rise to a more Strat-like tone, while still being unmistakably
Tele, if that makes sense! Check the video and hear for
yourself. The new ribcage contour felt great too and as
mentioned before and will no doubt be a very welcome upgrade for
lots of Tele fans.
In summary, I am finding it extremely difficult to come up with
anything I didn't like about the new American Standard Tele. It is
quite simply a superbly well made instrument, which while easing in
a more modern direction still sounds, plays and feels so good that
it just couldn't be mistaken for anything else.
Check out the full review inc. video of the Fender American
Standard Telecaster by Rick Graham in Issue 13 of Guitar