Fender Music Australia | Price: $4,099
1975. The Vietnam War was over, Spielberg’s revolutionary Jaws took the box-office by storm, and the first pressings of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here made their way onto turntables around the world. This was a period of change for the world, and for the world of music; with the mixing pot of genres in rock, funk, prog, and disco each having their fair share of the limelight.
Musical instruments were not exempt from this era of progression, which saw the classic Fender Telecaster have its headstock expanded, pickups completely revamped, and slab body carved to a more anatomically comfortable design. Now, nearly half a century since Fender perfected it, the Telecaster Deluxe is back – in all of its true-to-vintage glory.
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As something of a reprise to the American Vintage series of the late nineties and early noughties, Fender’s new American Vintage II series offers year-specific reissues of some of their most iconic electric guitars. Originally introduced in 1972 as the flagship model of the Telecaster, the Telecaster Deluxe was unique in being fitted with Wide Range humbucker pickups. Fender has gone to great lengths to keep this model true to the specifications of the Fender American Vintage II 1975 Telecaster Deluxe, such as manufacturing pickups with CuNiFe magnets for the first time since 1981. In doing so, Fender’s description of these guitars as “direct descendants of the original(s)” is accurate, and perceivable to the player or collector.
When first removing the guitar from the included hardcase, the high-build quality of the Telecaster Deluxe makes for a great impression. The alder body and maple neck are neatly decorated with gloss polyurethane finishes that match the look and materials of the original. At the neck pocket, where neck and body are perfectly married together, lies access to the Micro-Tilt mechanism, enabling easy fine-tuning of the angle between the two components. High-quality components provide an optimal path for the strings; from the vintage-accurate tuners to the bone nut, to the six stainless steel block saddles, providing an opening to the string-through design. The excellent craftsmanship and fitting is evident in the immense resonance that this 1975 Telecaster Deluxe has to offer, which is apparent even when the guitar is unplugged.
The Fender Telecaster is notorious for its robusticity and ability to serve as a workhorse. While both of these qualities remain true in the American Vintage II 1975 Telecaster Deluxe, they do not come at the cost of superb playability and comfort. At a fairly hefty weight, though with some timber removed at the belly cut, this model provides an electric guitar in a solid, yet ergonomic package. Our review unit had good weight distribution, with the neck remaining approximately parallel to the ground when played either sitting or standing. The arrangement of components on the top surface of the body allows for uninhibited play, with the pickup selector and control knobs remaining out of the way, compared to the layout of a standard Telecaster.
The hard rock maple neck also strictly complies with the original specifications of the 1975 guitar, as you might expect from a reissue of this calibre. The “C”-shape neck is extremely comfortable, with fretting hand fatigue hardly experienced after even hours of play. While more modern-minded players may prefer a satin or matte-finished neck, the gloss finish does not generate excessive levels of friction. The 7.25” fingerboard radius, in conjunction with the medium jumbo frets, provide the player with a comfortable experience that accurately depicts the original model. While this fingerboard radius typically isn’t the most conducive to massive bends and high-speed lead guitar techniques, no major drawbacks were noticed when playing into the higher regions of the fretboard. With individual bridge saddles for each of the strings, intonation is highly adjustable – in contrast to the original non-deluxe Telecaster design.
In true Telecaster fashion, the 1975 Telecaster Deluxe reissue provides the guitarist with some gorgeous sounds, and a simplistic approach to controlling and manipulating them. The resurrected CuNiFe Wide Range humbucking pickups – originally designed by Seth Lover – have excellent output, clarity, and balance across the frequency spectrum. These pickups are articulate in their ability to reflect the sounds that different strings produce, and they also shine in bringing some real gnarl when the musical situation calls for it. Despite their vintage design, they are relatively quiet, surprisingly even through a driven valve amplifier.
With the toggle switch placed upwards into the neck pickup position, this Tele excels in producing warm and full tones, while maintaining pick articulation. From folksy fingerpicking, to jazzy single-note-runs, to grungy chords, the neck pickup was balanced, with no perceived scoops in the output.
When switched to the bridge position, the sound has some remnants of the iconic Telecaster twang, though in a much more musically well-rounded fashion. The higher output and slightly darker tone of the Wide Range Humbucker enables the Telecaster Deluxe to be more versatile than the original Tele in the neck position.
Perhaps the most exciting and magical of this guitar’s sounds are produced when both neck and bridge pickups are selected simultaneously. This position is somewhat reminiscent of the iconic Fender Stratocaster ‘in-between’ positions, though with a touch more midrange and a little less glass. The result is a rather gentle and sweet quack, with a metric-tonne of musical applications.
While the dimensions and components of the Fender American Vintage II 1975 Telecaster Deluxe aren’t necessarily the most high-tech offerings in the world of electric guitars, this model nails something that many fail to deliver; a vintage-accurate reproduction of a classic model that plays easily and sounds beautiful. It offers all the romance and magic of a ‘70s icon, albeit in a shiny, new package. You’d be hard-pressed to find an electric guitar that matches the aesthetics, sound, and overall feel of the new 1975 Telecaster Deluxe from Fender.