Fender Australia | RRP: $2,499
The Fender Telecaster is a model of guitar renowned by musicians the world over as being the workingman’s guitar. This reputation comes down to its straightforward, simplistic design that covers all the basics a guitar player needs without anything fancy. All you need are a slab of wood, a couple of pickups, a single volume and tone control, and you have your Fender Telecaster. Things are a little bit different on Fender’s new JV Modified ‘50s Telecaster, however, yet the design still stays true to its humble beginnings.
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The JV Modified ‘50s Telecaster is part of a run of a new series of guitars coming out of Fender Japan, dedicated to the most popular era of that model instrument. It’s no surprise that Fender chose to create a dedication to the ‘50s Telecaster, their first ever electric guitar model. Japanese craftsmanship in combination with a ‘50s Telecaster build leaves high hopes for any guitar lover. Playing this instrument reinforces just why the Fender Telecaster is so dearly-loved by players of all different genres, as it simply does what a guitar is supposed to do.
Telecasters are widely regarded as the most practically-designed model of guitar. This is no exception with JV Modified ‘50s Telecaster. The solid basswood body is noticeably lightweight compared to other Telecaster models. This does take away from that old school telecaster feel and heaviness, but does provide easier live playability. Additionally, the basswood body certainly provides a tone that compliments the Telecaster name with its rich and resonant nature. As expected, the JV Modified ‘50s Telecaster features vintage hardware all round, including tuners, the bridge, and Fender’s signature Telecaster single coil vintage style pickups. A maple neck topped with a satin urethane finish is not only visually pleasing to look at with its unique grain pattern, but also comfortable for your hand to glide across effortlessly. The White Blond finish combined with the gold pickguard is an unusual scheme for a vintage style guitar, but is one that is sure to catch the eye.
The modern touch on the Fender JV Modified series definitely blurs the lines when it comes to Telecasters or Stratocasters having their set in-stone tones. Don’t get me wrong, the Modified Tele does have that distinctive Telecaster sound, however the tonal options are practically limitless with the four-way pickup selector switch and out of phase push-pull knob doubling on the tone control.
The bridge pickup has that amazing treble-y country twang that any Telecaster player knows and loves. The response is super tight with a tone that would cut through any mix in a live or studio setting. Running some overdrive on this vintage style bridge pickup adds some girth and energy that could find its way into a hard rock band with relative ease. In the second position, the tone becomes a little more controlled and less treble-y. It has a slick element to it where notes seem to blend together harmoniously, but with less distinction between each note. Utilising both pickups together provides a satisfying clean, bluesy feel with great dynamics and response. The neck pickup on its own has rounded warm sound, excellent for driving clean rhythm and mellow lead work. Each pickup option has its own unique flavour while still maintaining a traditional Fender Telecaster tone. However, the most interesting tonal options in this guitar come from the out of phase push-pull knob on the tone control. The out of phase sound is slightly psychedelic, but is particularly useful for soaring lead solos where its voicing certainly stands out the most.
Playability is one of, if not the most important selling point of a Fender Telecaster. The JV Modified ‘50s Telecaster is no exception. The soft “V” shaped neck fits beautifully in the hand and is particularly good for those who look to play with their thumb over the top of the neck. Combined with the 9.5” radius and medium jumbo frets, the neck is comfortable for both rhythm and lead work. Your hand glides like butter over the back of the neck with its satin urethane finish, with a feel almost as though the neck was sanded smooth. The cutaway allows for excellent access at the higher parts of the fretboard, particularly with the medium jumbo frets. The Telecaster is a set and forget instrument. With the pickup selector, tone, and volume controls all placed perpendicular to the player’s rhythm hand, it is virtually impossible to accidentally change your desired settings. Yet, when one wants to do so, you know exactly where they are on the fly if you did want to roll off your volume, or engage the out of phase control and maintain your performance.
The Fender JV Modified ‘50s Telecaster combines a vintage Telecaster look and feel with modern and consistent playability. Japanese Fenders are revered for a reason and this model is no exception. It is built with superb Japanese craftsmanship and plays like a charm. The versatility of this instrument can’t be understated, with its ability to spread across multiple genres and wide range of tonal options. While this guitar certainly isn’t cheap, it does punch well above its weight against other guitars of its price point. Fender Japan have created a workhorse of a guitar that simply does what a guitar is meant to do, with the extra features that the modern player demands.
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