Review: Fender Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe

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Review: Fender Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe

kingfish telecaster deluxe
Words by Adam Buttigieg

Fender Australia | Price: $3,949

There’s just something synonymous about Fender guitars and blues music. The instrument and the music seem to mould so perfectly together, it’s difficult to not associate Fender with the genre that set the basis for arguably all western music. 

With musicians such as B.B King and Buddy Guy using Fenders in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it’s not hard to see why it quickly became the brand of choice for the genre. An artist who continues to carry on the Fender blues legacy is Christone Ingram, more commonly known as “Kingfish”, with Fender releasing his signature model guitar, the Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe in a stunning Mississippi Night finish. 

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At a mere 23 years old, Kingfish has established himself as a modern day great of blues music and a musician with the soul of a blues player, wise beyond his years. It’s exciting to see Fender recognise this and work with Ingram to create what should undoubtedly be a guitar that can produce the blues goodness a musician of his calibre desires. Kingfish has worked with Fender in the past, previously having his own Custom Shop Stratocaster, as well as promoting the popular Fender Vintera series. It’s truly compelling to see what the brand and the artist have brought to the world of blues this time around.

The Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe is undoubtedly striking when you first open the case. The sparkling, deep purple Mississippi Night finish in combination with the black three-ply pickguard gives an aura of a guitar that looks pretty, but has the potential to deliver a mean, face-scrunching sound. Another thing that catches the eye on the first look is the pickup configuration. The Custom Kingfish Humbuckers feature a classy laser engraving of Kingfish’s logo, it also appears on the neck plate in addition to Kingfish’s signature on the back of the headstock. 

As with any Telecaster, it is built sturdy. The Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe features an alder body with a roasted maple neck and rosewood slab fingerboard. The roast maple neck is darker than normal maple and has a satin urethane finish, which gives the guitar a streak of something visually vintage. The nickel and chrome hardware is tough and would fare well gig after gig, not to mention it looks fantastically shiny. The large ‘70s headstock adversely features a satin gloss finish that adds to the shimmer of the guitar’s sparkly purple finish on the body. The skirted black tone and volume controls in combination with the visible bullet-style truss rod at the headstock give the instrument an almost futuristic look, especially with the glistening purple finish on the body. The white pearloid fret inlays add a final touch of class to what is overall, a unique visual experience. 

The Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe has a playability suited to rhythm guitar players. It has a chunky “V”-shaped neck that fits so comfortably to your rhythm hand, it feels effortless to play. The finish of the neck adds to this as well due to its satin urethane finish that aids in gliding your hand up and down the neck with ease. The rosewood fingerboard is friendly on your fingers, with great response and resonance. Reaching those higher notes requires a bit of extra effort with the thicker neck, but rest assured, you can chug away to your heart’s content lower on the fretboard to great effect.

Sound and tone wise, the Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe is its own unique beast. Loaded with two Custom Kingfish Humbuckers, the Telecaster certainly sounds different from your average twangy Telecaster. Firstly, the neck pickup has its own natural grit, even when playing clean. This isn’t to everybody’s taste, but it’s certainly something myself and many other guitar players are rather fond of. The best part of this is that the grit can be controlled with the dynamics of your playing, something evident in Kingfish’s music and live performances. Light playing leaves you on the edge of break up and is a smooth and delicate soundscape, and playing harder leaves you with a tone begging you to kick on a boost or overdrive pedal. Overall, the tone of the neck humbucker is bass and mid heavy, and can be well contoured with dynamic playing. 

The bridge pickup hits that bridge humbucker sweet spot that guitar players adore. It produces a tone that is well shaped and that can stand out in the mix with ease. Clean, the pickup is sharp and pierces its way through your amplifier. It has that same dynamic grit as the bridge pickup. To get the most out of the bridge humbucker, you need to run it with an overdrive or perhaps with your own amp’s gain setting. Hitting that sweet spot between the pickup’s natural sound and your amp’s natural break up gain and the Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe produces tonal magic. Using both humbuckers together is a great combination of the two tones, but it is in my opinion that using one or the other usually produces the best sound, depending on what you’re after. 

The Kingfish Custom Telecaster Deluxe not only catches the eye with its stunning purple sparkle, but also turns heads with the sound it produces. It plays exactly as you’d expect any Fender Telecaster to play, with its chunky rhythm-friendly neck and solid build, while also providing that extra blues feel that extends on its predecessors. 

Fender hit the mark when it came to creating an instrument for one the most exciting blues talents to emerge in recent years, and it leaves no wonder that Kingfish wanted to collaborate with Fender for this signature guitar. 

Head to Fender for more information.