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Fender 75th Anniversary Telecaster Review: An Incredible Value Under $1000

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Jazz Guitar Today contributor Brad Jeter reviews Fender’s 75th Anniversary Telecaster and what he finds might surprise you…

I really can’t imagine having to describe what a Telecaster is to anyone–it is simply one of the all-time great designs. This particular model turns out to be a surprising thoroughbred in the Fender Telecaster stable. This 75th Anniversary Telecaster is a stripped-down, 50s inspired instrument that simply gets everything right. If you have always wanted a Tele to play around with or want an absolute gig-worthy Tele straight-out-of-the-box, then this one is an absolute contender.

When you first take this guitar in hand you can tell it is a well-made instrument.

The fit and finish are close to flawless. One of the first things I have always checked with Fender guitars (bolt-on neck guitars in general) is the neck/body fit. I think it is a good indication of the overall care and execution of the build. This 75th Anniversary Tele neck/body fit is as good as it gets–the alignment is perfectly perpendicular–not even a hairs-width of discrepancy. This may sound trivial but it really isn’t. How well the neck bonds with the body will ultimately play a part in how well the instrument resonates and sustains notes. The better the bond, the less energy transmission loss. Many may never consider how much the neck plays in the overall tone and character of the instrument but it truly is significant. This is not conjecture but based on science. Ask any luthier or experienced tech and I think there is universal agreement.

The neck impresses me on several levels. First, the profile is comfortable and a good compromise that should meet the approval of a majority of players. Not too thin, not too thick, the profile has shoulders that allow both your thumb and fingers to easily grip the neck without undue pressure exerted. In other words, your hand is naturally comfortable.

The fretwork is surprisingly precise on an instrument inhabiting this price range. The fret wire is a nice width and height for easy bending. The installation is near flawless: I could not find an inconsistent fret with any perceptible gap nor a single proud fret end. This tells me that the factory pays attention to maintaining a controlled temperature and humidity environment. As a result, the woods used are properly dried, cured, and at the correct moisture content.

Fret crowns are even and this is always desirable–no, necessary–for accurate intonation.

The fretboard edges are not “rolled” but neither are they razor-sharp like most guitars I encounter at this price point. Again, another small detail that contributes to the neck’s fine feel in hand.

The nut contour seems to be finished by hand and the slots are well finished and don’t catch the strings.

Lastly, the back of the neck is a smooth, fast satin finish with the fretboard being gloss. Very nice touch.

The tuning machines are Fender branded sealed mechanisms. They are good quality but I prefer a more precise turn ratio but again, absolutely nothing to complain about at this price point. 

Truss rod adjustments are done at the headstock which will only be an issue with obsessive vintage luddites who wouldn’t be purchasing a guitar like this to begin with.

The bridge is a modern-style flat (not an ashtray) with six individual saddles with traditional string-through-body. The controls are a pleasant surprise, in that they are full-size 24mm CTS pots and a high-quality 3-way pickup selector. More icing on the cake at this price!

As I got ready to plug the Tele in, I was about to be surprised – really surprised.

I need you to keep this to yourself, okay? The pickups are not good–they are outstanding. I have never encountered a more balanced and toneful set on any guitar near this price point (are you starting to see the trend here?). 

The bridge has that Tele Twang if you want it but is not an ice-pick to the forehead. It has good harmonics when some dirt is applied either in front with pedals or on its own through an amp. 

The neck pickup is surprisingly well balanced relative to output compared to the bridge. There is no great volume divide between them so the middle position is well balanced with little or no phasing disparity. It is warm and articulate and, like the bridge pickup, goes from open, well-defined clean to a sweet rounded, warm overdriven tone.

I have mentioned the fit and finish but I want to add that specifically, the finish on the body, as well as the neck, is applied with precise consistency. The finish is applied cleanly without a trace of imperfections. It is also an even, thin finish. It looks great and, importantly, I can’t imagine it having any detrimental effect on the guitar’s acoustic properties. This guitar rings true and without frequency truncations (dead spots).

In conclusion, I really like this guitar. So much so that I bought it. It’s that good.

If you have never owned a Tele but have always been curious, this one is for you. If you are a Tele lover and want an everyday player that won’t break the bank, this one is for you. If you would like a backup guitar for gigs that will get the job done night after night, this guitar is for you. Come to think of it, this is a guitar that will be a welcome addition to anyone that appreciates quality at a bargain price. Highly recommended! 


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