Late one night as I was knee deep in some research (read: distraction and procrastination) for a review much like this one, I happened upon one of the strangest and most perverse cultural phenomenon known to mankind. Listed alongside a number of different pedal shootouts, I spied a particularly long video curiously titled ‘Unboxing’. Intrigued, I chanced a wayward click and what ensued left me nothing short of agog. I watched, in its entirety mind you, an entire half hour film of a person of unknown origin opening the packaging that encased a Lego toy car. Immediately hypnotised, I watched as they pieced together the item, sat its driver in his place and pushed it back and forth across my computer screen a while. Once the bar along the bottom was completely red, I came shunting back to cold, hard awareness. What had I just witnessed and why had it bewitched me so? In the time since I have come to begrudgingly accept that the unboxing video makes up a good portion of the data on YouTube’s intimidating servers, but it wasn’t until I flicked open the latches on this Fender American Original ‘50s Telecaster that I truly understood the worth of such a genre.
Having read the sticker plastered to the top of the hideous cardboard box, I had a fair idea of what I was in for. After all, the butterscotch blonde ‘50s Tele is one of the most widely recognised gold standards in guitar imagery. If there’s one thing that Fender are good at, however, it is the big reveal. I slid the lacquered tweed hard case out of its brown sheath with all the care and affection of an archaeologist unearthing a giant, Paleolithic tibia. I laid said case languidly across my bed and gently unlatched its hinges. In a moment that was a heady mix of treasure beaming golden light upon pirates faces and Indiana Jones’ consternation in the presence of The Arc Of The Covenant, I had naught to do but laugh in astonishment. Replete with luxurious red velvet lining, this case contained an image of the Holy Grail and as I lifted it cautiously out of this womb, it felt as though I was holding a piece of history.
Every inch of this guitar is exactly as you’ve heard. The one-piece maple neck is molasses thick yet begs to be caressed. The 9.5” radius fretboard lilts effortlessly over its edges and sends you screaming across its length with the greatest of ease. All the hardware is true to the tales; brass saddles, deep ashtray bridge plate, one-piece, jet black pickguard and a nitro cellulose finish with the consistency of a Werther’s Original in the sun. And what of the sound? By God the sound of this thing is every bit the chiming, brilliant sheen that you’ve heard on every record in your collection; not thin and jangly like some of the imitators, but clear and bright as a liberty bell with a girth and balance that none other than a true Tele can lay claim to.
While some of their fiercest competition crumbles to ruins, Fender yet again does well to stay the course. The originality of their flagship models has not dimmed over the years and, as opposed to messing with the formula, they have paid loving and loveable tribute to the prince of tone that is the ‘50s Telecaster.
Hits and Misses