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Fender American Special Telecaster

Fender American Special Telecaster

The Fender Telecaster may be a design that’s nearly 60 years old, but when something’s as perfect as this you just don’t mess with it. For a guitar that started life in the hands of country music players it’s gone on to conquer pretty much every type of music - Indie, Rock, Blues, Jazz and even Metal have all come under the spell of Leo Fender’s first-born. Now the American Special series looks to put this all-time classic in the hands of even more players. Bring it on!

Cost cut, quality kept

Slotting into the Fender catalogue between the Highway One series and the American Standards, the American Special is a US-made guitar that Fender have honed to make it the best value-for-money instrument they can offer. The cost-cutting has thankfully come in the right areas - for example, the Special includes a soft case instead of the moulded one that the Standards offer, there’s a reduced range of colours (only two), and they come loaded with the excellent Texas Special pickups - all of which result in a fantastic player’s guitar at a price that’s very affordable.

Simple and classy

Dressed in a three-colour sunburst this Tele is a beautiful thing and reminds you that sometimes simplicity is best. Just the two single-coil pickups, one volume control, one tone control, a pickup selector, and whatever talent you have in your fingers. Thankfully, the Telecaster is probably one of the most comfortable guitars on the market to play, and the Special fits the bill perfectly. The generous 9.5-inch fingerboard radius and 22 jumbo frets make the Special a playground for the big bends, fast solo runs, and belting out huge chords with a wide grin on your face.

Plays good too

Clean tones are, as you would expect, spanky and sharp with that characteristic Tele twang. The neck pickup is wonderfully expressive and full sounding, ideal for bluesy solos and general rhythm work. Switching to the bridge gives a rapsy bite that will have funk players and country pickers licking their lips in delight. Add some overdrive and the Tele really begins to cook, with a classic edgy tone that’s inspired the likes of Keith Richards, Paul Webber, Bloc Party and Radiohead over the years. High gain can get a bit noisy due to the single-coil pickups, but the guitar is capable of some fantastic chugging tones for drop-D songs. Basically its a Tele, a USA one at that, and you simply cannot go wrong with one of these.

Thumbs up

Classic tones, great price

Thumbs down

Noisy at high gain

Verdict

A superb instrument that you can rely on. Big tones, fantastic playing experience, and a price that means you can actually buy one…or maybe two?


John Mayer is long-time friend of Fender and is one of today’s most visible exponents of pure Fender-fueled guitar music. Being such a fan of Fender, Mayer headlined at the company’s massive 60th anniversary concert in spring 2006. His signature model, the John Mayer Stratocaster, debuted in 2005; the Limited Edition John Mayer Stratocaster appeared in 2007. He’s won several Grammy awards and drew widespread acclaim for his impeccable work as an accomplished guitarist/songwriter.

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