Review: Fender Limited Edition Player Telecaster with Roasted Maple Neck

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Review: Fender Limited Edition Player Telecaster with Roasted Maple Neck

Words by Luke Shields

Fender Music Australia | Price: $1,599

My job, dear reader, is to write to you about two very different guitars that, to a layperson, would appear to be much the same thing. An enviable, if conflicted position indeed! One is a Frankenstein monster, hewn in all its rarity and oddball glory from the first and last page of the inimitable tome of Fender’s history. Both a tribute to a storied past and a foot pointed firmly toward the future, the Blue Flower Acoustasonic Tele, reviewed elsewhere, is about as distant a relative from the humble if considerably more conservatively dressed Limited Edition Player Telecaster I see before me.

Owing both to its place just past the first page of the Fender catalogue and its crowd-pleasing Butterscotch Blonde finish, this guitar presents as an absolute no-brainer. The classic of all classics tweaked subtly with a few modern accoutrements and this season’s hottest mod, the roasted maple neck, is not the type of axe you have to pluck up the courage to walk out of the house wearing. It is effortless as blue jeans and a white t-shirt, a blue-eyed boy meets a flaxen-haired girl and they live happily ever after, a Hallmark card with a Norman Rockwell painting printed on the front, ice cold Coca-Cola on a hot summer day.

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I remember around the time that the Player Series was released. I had been working in instrument retail for little more than a year and was just barely getting ahead of the science of spec sheet memorisation before Fender pulled the fast one on myself and my peers. The Players were, and still are, the absolute most popular electric guitar in my and many other stores and, as we on the front lines struggled to keep up with demand, it was clear that the Americans had clearly hit one out of the park, albeit with a Mexican-built bat. 21 frets, an F-Stamp on the neck plate and a few simple, easy-to-execute classic design adjustments in an array of colours, some more outlandish than others, a sharp-as-a-tack price point to boot made these undeniably elegant and crowd-pleasing riff sticks the easy-to-reach dream of just about everyone that walked through the door. Funny how making the gold standard guitar more like its origin story makes it more appealing huh?

Never ones to sit on their hands, in the years since Fender has expanded the player family in some would say the usual ways. Pulling in the shredders with Tim Shaw-designed humbuckers and Floyd Rose tremolo units was a bold first move but totally paid off. Equally, premium-ising the family tree with Player Plus guitars, loaded with noiseless pickups, compound radius fretboards and some of the more top-of-the-range, modern options proved effective in making it necessary to have not one but many Players in many players’ collections. All in all, the cheaper end of Fender’s gene pool is not populated by unplayable trash.

‘What is so special about this little thing?’ I hear you ask. To be honest, I don’t really think it’s necessarily about this being special. The only thing that sets this simple-yet-effective guitar apart from the first round of game-changers is the heat applied to the maple before locking it in place. Roasted maple is by no means a Fender-specific innovation either. Music Man has offered roasted neck as part of their entire catalogue for years now and many acoustic manufacturers have applied a process known as torrefaction to their entire bodies in an effort to make new guitars sound old for even longer. It’s not the newness that is the rubric, it’s the stability and comfort that is the whole point.

The roasting process quickly and evenly removes moisture from a timber once it has been shaped, rendering it more stable, ie: less prone to warping or movement of any kind, thus rendering your Player Tele even more of a reliable workhorse than it already was. It also lends the pale timber a healthy island holiday glow that is almost as attractive as the idyllic, deep yellow hue we’ve all come to associate so closely with the single-but shape. Long story short, this is not an attempt at rewriting history, reinventing the wheel or retraining your brain to think about guitar in a whole new light. It is purely and simply another item on the menu you might like to try to get more out of your playing experience, and a welcome one at that. 

It looks like a Tele, sounds like a Tele and, surprise surprise it is exactly that, a Tele that you can trust to do exactly what we reach for a Tele to do. I’ve always done my darnedest to convince people that Mexican guitars are not to be overlooked and what I like most about the Player series is that they do most of that work for me. Even the most stubborn of “I used to have an original Nocaster but I had kids and blah blah blah” know-it-all, curmudgeon or stick-in-the-mud would be fooling themselves if they picked up one of these tried and true machines and didn’t enjoy it. That’s exactly the essence of Telecasting, it is the guitar that just does what it needs to do and now, with the addition of the roasted maple neck, it just got a little bit more trustworthy.

Head to Fender for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Fender Music Australia.

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