Review: Fender Chrissie Hynde Signature Telecaster

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Review: Fender Chrissie Hynde Signature Telecaster

Words by Lewis Noke-Edwards

Fender Music Australia | RRP: $2,699

The Chrissie Hynde Telecaster was one of the most exciting announcements for Fender’s 2021 range. After forming the Pretenders in 1978, Chrissie has remained the only constant member, while handling lead vocals and lead guitars as well as the song writing, landing her a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Much of this history has been written with her ‘65 Fender Telecaster strung across her shoulder, and the Chrissie Hynde Telecaster memorialises just that. The Pretenders have found fame through their broad range of styles and influences, seamlessly blending pop, rock, punk and balladry into one unique and instantly recognisable sound.

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Finished officially in Ice Blue Metallic, the Chrissie Hynde Telecaster features Fender’s Road Worn Nitrocellulose Lacquer that dulls the blue back a little to further compliment the gig-tough chrome mirror pickguard.

This one comes in a deluxe hardcase and features a rosewood fretboard, nicely offset against the hazy blue of the nitro finish. The Chrissie Hynde Telecaster is a force to be reckoned with, much like the woman herself. It can harness a variety of tones with a few simple controls, thanks to specifically voiced custom pickups and the Telecaster’s time tested layout and design.

The Chrissie Hynde Telecaster is about as classic as the Pretenders’ driving rhythms and slow strummed choruses. This Tele has a body made from alder and covered in a nitrocellulose lacquer allowing the tone of the wood to breathe a little more.

The rosewood board is a vintage radius at 7.25” and 21 vintage tall frets divide the tones between the synthetic bone nut and string-through-body Tele bridge, with stainless steel saddles that are a nice touch.

This stainless steel reduces wear and rust over time, while the string-through-body helps offer that classic vintage Fender feel as well as allowing the strings resonate through the single-cut, alder body. The construction of this guitar really lends itself to the workhorse, offering a bunch of hard wearing and solid parts and materials. The chrome pickguard offers a little extra spank that’s picked up by the custom Chrissie Hynde single-coils.

The pickups are voiced to accurately replicate the tone from the pickups in her ‘65 Tele, and offer classic voicing with a little extra magic in the mids and pick attack. These pickups are controlled by, as standard, a three-way switch and a master volume and master tone. Your Chrissie Hynde Tele will arrive safe in a deluxe Fender hardshell case, which, don’t get me wrong, is a welcome addition for such a reasonably priced guitar.

All of these specs make for a Telecaster with classic vintage Fender feel and vibe. The mid ’60s “C” shape takes us back to the golden era of Fender electrics, and the vintage tall frets inspire a certain jangly style of riff and chordal strumming. The pickguard offers a particularly metallic attack that flourishes in a mid forward but ever-articulate tone, similar to guitars with an anodised pickguard.

The tone is balanced and bright, but the neck pickup is where this guitar really shines. It feels like more than a single-coil, but not as sizeable as a humbucker. It’s warm and articulate, thick and creamy, but can poke through without much of a push. The bridge pickup balances out the guitar nicely, offering a clean, compressed tone that takes pedals and amp overdrive well without becoming snarky or sharp.

It goes without saying that relicing can sometimes feel overdone, and obviously aged in a fake fashion. This relic, however, is listed as Road Worn and it feels exactly like that, a nicely worn-in workhorse guitar that feels played, loved and cherished but has seen its share of gigs and miles on the road and will continue to see many more.

The Fender locking tuners further add to the workhorse feel, with the guitar arriving in tune out of the box and maintaining it throughout this review. You can rest assured the guitar will stay in tune while slung across your shoulder with the included custom white strap and “CH” embossed sheriff’s badge.

All in all, the Chrissie Hynde Telecaster is one of the best guitars to come out of the Ensenada factory in recent years. To be fair, you’d expect nothing less when commemorating one of the hardest working players in rock ‘n’ roll. This is a super balanced and unique guitar, featuring a bunch of specifications and additions that make it stand out from the crowd.

The chrome pickguard, bridge construction, materials and pickups make this unlike any other Tele you’ve played. It’s an all-rounder, and offers clean Fender tone and punchy rock tones, offering something for whatever you’re plugging it into or amplifying it with. Chrissie’s weapon of choice is this Telecaster, that settles nicely between her sing-a-long style vocals and whatever else the Pretenders have happening in their broad range of instrumentation.

From piano ballads in ‘I’ll Stand by You’ or bright percussive playing in ‘Back on the Chain Gang’, Chrissie’s Tele can hold it all down and settle within their songs to play a variety of roles.

Find out more about the Fender Chrissie Hynde Telecaster via Fender Music Australia.