Australian Guitar

Fender American Original ‘60S Telecaster



Fender is always tinkering with their product lines to make sure they’re keeping pace with the current demands of modern guitarists, while also offering something for those who want something traditiona­l. The new American Original series is the successor to the hugely popular American Vintage Reissue line, incorporat­ing period-accurate sound and style with subtle upgrades in playabilit­y and electronic­s. The series includes a ‘50s Stratocast­er, Telecaster and Precision Bass, a ‘60s Strat, Tele, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, P Bass and Jazz Bass, and a ‘70s Jazz Bass (we wouldn’t be surprised if they add a ‘70s Strat to the lineup in due time).

The American Original ‘60s Telecaster is instantly identifiab­le as a ‘60s-style instrument, with its body binding, rosewood fingerboar­d and vintage-style hardware with three bridge saddles. The body is made of alder with a lacquer finish that will age and wear just like the originals, and all the exact body and neck curves are reproduced. The neck shape is a period-accurate C-shape straight out of the mid-‘60s, and the hardware is faithful right down to the string trees. In many ways, this could simply be a Tele from the ‘60s brought forward in time.


But unlike the American Vintage Reissue series, which reproduced the specs of specific years, the American Original line is a little more general, picking and choosing the best features from a range of different years and upgrading certain specs as appropriat­e. The pickups are Pure Vintage ‘64 single coils, which are specifical­ly voiced to reproduce the sound and performanc­e of pickups made in that particular year. And while the neck itself has that mid-‘60s carve, the fingerboar­d radius is 9.5 inches, noticeably flatter than the 7.25-inch radius of a true vintage Tele. This change makes for much easier string-bending, and it prevents notes from ‘fretting out’ (choking into silence on the upper frets). It’s also more comfortabl­e for speedy playing, although not as flat as the necks you’ll find on a dedicated shred machine. The frets are Vintage-Tall profile too – higher than the accurate, but kind of clumsy vintage-style frets on my ‘62 Stratocast­er reissue. Fender offers this model in three finishes: Three-Colour Sunburst, Fiesta Red and Lake Placid Blue. They all look gorgeous in person and will look even better after a few years of wear. There are no other fingerboar­d wood options for this model, so if you really need a maple fingerboar­d, you’ll want to go for the American Original ‘50s Telecaster – but then you’ll miss out on that sweet binding and the colour options. A vintage-style hardshell case is included with your purchase.


I plugged the ‘60s Tele into a Fender Twin Reverb for testing, and the first thing that really stood out to me was exactly how great the neck pickup is. Tele neck pickups are notoriousl­y fickle fellows – often too dark and indistinct for many players – but this one nails it with the perfect level of output, detail and body. There’s plenty of high-end clarity to cut through the low end, and it’s a very sensitive and dynamic pickup. The bridge pickup, on the other hand, is more focused and nasal, with not a lot of low-end noise. That’s part of what makes

Telecaster­s great, of course, and this one sounds a little more sweet than twangy as a result of the rosewood fingerboar­d.

The middle pickup selection engages both pickups in hum-cancelling parallel for an almost acoustic guitar kind of texture. This is another deviation from the standard spec of a ‘60s Telecaster, where both pickups would have been of the same magnet polarity and wind direction. I’ve also noticed that the switching seems very quiet: you sometimes don’t realise how much noise a pickup switch generates until you use one that doesn’t make a peep.

The playabilit­y of this guitar is great, but what’s even better is the way that notes higher up on the neck seem to have a lot of ‘oomph’ to them. I’ve played plenty of Teles where the higher notes sounded thin, reedy and without much sustain, but hit the 19th fret of the B string, or even the 21st fret of the high E, and you’ll be surprised at how full they sound and how long they ring out for. There are probably several factors at play here, a great neck and body fit being the most crucial. In fact even just eyeballing the neck joint, you can see that it’s very well made.


This is a truly great option for Tele lovers – especially those whose playing leans more towards the blues or to rock rhythm guitar with lots of ringing chords. And if you need more twang, don’t forget that ‘50s version.

But perhaps the biggest standout is the very high level of quality: it simply feels like an expensive, finely-crafted guitar. Especially when you consider how obscenely expensive some guitars with similar specs can run, the American Original ‘60s Telecaster becomes a bargain. Fender seems to know that there’s a lot of scrutiny on the quality control of legacy brands these days, and they’ve faced the challenge head-on with some truly great guitars that hold up to very high standards.

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? RRP: $3,499
RRP: $3,499

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia