Reviewed: Fender American Performer Telecaster Hum

Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | Expect to pay: $2149

Fender is a guitar company that needs no introduction, so let’s get straight into the specs. The Fender Performer Telecaster is a new model for 2019, with a DoubleTap humbucker in the neck position and a slanted Yosemite single pickup nestled into the vintage-style bridge.

The guitar is weighty, but balanced when standing and comes in a few different colours to suit your aesthetic. It’s a well-constructed, Californian-made Alder instrument coated in a gloss polyurethane finish, featuring a synthetic bone nut to retain clarity in note and tone. The tuning pegs are Fender ClassicGear that complete the vintage style guitar, despite the modern adornments and electronics.

 

The Fender Performer lives up to it’s name - the Tele feels like a solid workhorse guitar. It’ll serve you night after night on tour, record after record when recording and it’ll become your go-to when writing and composing. It’s comfortable despite the lack of a rounded body that a lot of us are accustomed to, but sits nicely against the body regardless. The modern C-shaped neck has a satin-finish that glides beneath your palms and never sticks. The 22 jumbo frets are easy to, uh… fret, and the 25.5” scale length serves the guitar’s playability and tone well. The placement of the tone and volume knobs is admittedly a little uncomfortable and the hands need to be moved completely away from the strings to make adjustments. The pickup selector is a little easier to reach and switch between, which really opens up your tonal options. Admittedly I was apprehensive approaching the guitar as the lipstick-style neck pickup of a Telecaster is iconic. However, the American Performer DoubleTap pickup blew these concerns out of the water.

 

 

 

The neck position is as thick and creamy as you’d expect from a humbucker, but with distinction and clear note articulation. The bridge pickup is the sparkly bright spank that you’d expect from a Telecaster. The middle selection is where this guitar shines and was my favourite setting, both through an amp and even D.I.’d. It has the spank and clarity of the bridge pickup, but the size and presence of the neck. It’s the best of both worlds, somehow blended perfectly. Personally, when a middle pickup position is both pickups at once it’s usually a throwaway tone. It becomes phasey (admittedly sometimes on purpose) and not usually usable. It’s a weird blend of two pickups that work independently, but not together. The Performer Telecaster does away with this, with a middle position that is entirely useable and maybe preferable over other positions. Not only this, but the guitar also features a push/pull pot that splits the humbucker into your familiar, single-coil Fender sound.

 

The Fender Performer Telecaster is, as its name suggests, a guitar designed for the modern performer in 2019. It retains a lot of classic specifications of one of the most widely used guitars in history, but with a contemporary edge and modern details. A new, bridge pickup gives life to a classic design. Albeit unconventional for a Tele, it retains the classic sound when you need it with the push/pull pot that splits the neck coils. The guitar is phenomenally built and finished, and feels the way a workhorse should. It’s trustworthy and ready to inspire songs or to be your foundation when inspiration strikes.

Hits and Misses

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Well-built, nice finish

Comfortable and easy to play

Classic sound when required, modern sound otherwise

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Pickup controls not within reach

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