If you’re looking for a quality Telecaster that can cover a lot of musical territory but not put you in the poor house, the new Fender Standard Telecaster is a worthy contender.
Along with the Stratocaster, the Fender Telecaster has become a music industry icon. The Telecaster’s versatile tones have found devotees in every genre from jazz to country to rock. So, if you dare to call your instrument a “Telecaster,” you’d better be willing to put up with series scrutiny. Double that if your Tele is made in Mexico rather than the USA. With the street prices of a new MIM Telecaster going for less than $500, less than half the cost of a made in USA model, it’s fair to question where the savings comes from exactly. First of all, let’s look at the construction details of the made in Mexico Telecaster.
The new MIM Telecaster sports an alder body, a C-shaped maple neck with tinted satin urethane finish. A 21-fret maple fretboard is the only option (rosewood is available in the made in USA version). The 25.5” scale-length instrument also includes a nut width of 1.65”. The electronics consist of two hot Standard Tele single-coil pickups with master volume, master tone control, and 3-way switch. The bridge is a Standard 6-Saddle String-Thru-Body Bridge. Chrome hardware is standard, and a Fender gig bag is included.
The first question that everyone asks about Fender’s made in Mexico instruments is how they compare to the USA versions. In the case of the MIM Telecaster we reviewed, the answer is overwhelmingly positive, but let’s cut to the chase. Fret for fret, pickup for pickup, a MIM Telecaster does not “feel” as expensive as its USA counterpart. Obviously, Fender has to cut corners to make these instruments less expensive. Where are the savings to be found?
The savings is usually seen in the hardware (tuners, pickups, wiring) and other “little” things such as the case (or lack thereof). The pickups in the MIM model, for example, simply lack the depth and power of Fender’s higher priced offerings. Similarly, the tuners felt a little “cheap” compared to the USA versions. The components are still good, just not as good as the USA models.
However, the resonance, playability, and overall build quality of the MIM Telecaster is simply excellent, indeed better than many USA-made guitar’s we’ve tested. The neck is smooth and playable, and the frets were very well polished. The fit and finish of the instrument were on par with the USA models.
In fact, many people think Fender’s MIM guitars are actually the ultimate starting point for a “hot-rodded” guitar. If you were to replace the tuners, nut, pickups, and rewire the MIM Telecaster, you could have a versatile, high-quality guitar that can cover sonic territory from Mike Stern to Brad Paisley in a single instrument, all for less than the cost of a new USA-made Telecaster. Make no mistake about it. Guitars that roll off the lot at Fender’s Ensenada, Mexico facility are the real deal, at a price that won’t break the bank.
If you’re looking for a quality Telecaster that can cover a lot of musical territory but not put you in the poor house, the new Fender Standard Telecaster is a worthy contender. Regarding its playability and overall construction, the Standard Telecaster plays second fiddle to few, including its USA-made counterpart.
Name of Gear: Fender Standard Telecaster
List Price: $689.99
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Excellent value; solid playability; good construction
Cons: Cheap gig bag