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Discussion Starter #1
After years of ambivalence I have come to the conclusion that I could actually play and enjoy a tele.

Here's the problem:
Which one?
The Squier Classic Vibes feel nicer in my hands than their Mexican equivalents. The American is probably our of reach at this point. Is it worth throwing some nice pickups in a Classic Vibe and being done with it? Should I look at other brands. I played one of the Schecter California Series ones in the spring and it too was stunning.

What makes a great Tele?
 

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After years of ambivalence I have come to the conclusion that I could actually play and enjoy a tele.

Here's the problem:
Which one?
The Squier Classic Vibes feel nicer in my hands than their Mexican equivalents. The American is probably our of reach at this point. Is it worth throwing some nice pickups in a Classic Vibe and being done with it? Should I look at other brands. I played one of the Schecter California Series ones in the spring and it too was stunning.

What makes a great Tele?
Im afraid i can't answer that for yeah. What makes a great tele for you can be a shitty tele for me. Id honestly say go out and try every one you can get your hands on. For me i had to build one . Came out great i live it.


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Awesome guitars for the price. Just stock they give the tele vibe but upgrade pickups and hardware definitely do wonders.
 

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If you can find a 50s white blonde (not the vintage blonde) CV tele, grab it. These have great A3 pickups with some beef to them, no need to replace. Plop in a 4 way switch to get series (they are RWRP) as well as the 3 standard settings, move the tone pot wire for 50s wiring/treble bleed, and then mod the tone control (or buy a Fender part) to no-load and you'll have a 'stealth' tele!
Two caveats: 1) some find the neck a little on the thin side, & 2)weight does vary quite a bit, so try before you buy.
 

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Bajas are great (CS pickups, 4-way switch) & can usually be found for ~$800 used. Unless you like thin necks, I would try to get one of those vs. upgrading a CV.
 

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Bajas are great (CS pickups, 4-way switch) & can usually be found for ~$800 used. Unless you like thin necks, I would try to get one of those vs. upgrading a CV.
+1 for Classic Vibe and I haven’t thought once about upgrading pickups.

Oh, and the neck is fantastic.

The Baja is superb, but like the CV can also be heavy. The CV necks are on the thin side. About the same as a MIM Standard. The stock pickups are great. I swapped mine, and put the stocks back in eventually. They are supposedly made on the same line as Tonerider pickups. Potentially identical to them.
 

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CV and upgrade pickups electronics and you have a great little player that you wont be afraid to bring on gigs etc...The only thing with mine is that after playing it 3 years, the frets had a few nicks in them.
 

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If there is anything available in your area, consider a Jerry Donahue Tele. These have two distinctive features: 1) Start pickup in the neck position, and 2) an additional N+B position that puts neck out of phase with bridge in a particular way that yields no volume-drop, "honk" qualities, and sounds remarkably like a N+M setting on a Strat.

They are formally identified with Fender, in higher-end and budget-conscious models, but I understand he has lent his brand to other makers as well. Vintage V58JDAB Jerry Donahue Review | Premier Guitar

As for what makes a great Tele, tone-wise, all the magic is in the bridge assembly. That includes the plate, the saddles, the pickup, the bottom plate under the pickup, and the contact between the bridge plate and body. I gather a thicker finish can interfere with the bridge-plate-to-body interface. Opinions vary as to whether thru-backside-ferrule or top-loaded-thru-bridge-plate versions are better. That said, string around bridge pickup has no bearing on the tone.

One of the things that Teles excel at is "pinky swell" and "pinky wah". The easy access to the controls that permits it is better achieved by flipping the control plate around, so that the pickup switch is closer to the output jack, rather than first in line.
 

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As long as the neck is to my liking the rest can be upgraded.
So, yeah, you'll have to try a bunch.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all the input. I wasn't sure where the jwcks on the CV series fit into teledom. Apparently I'm a little neck guy at heart (though I could definitely go a little heftier).

The Jerry Donahue Tele looks and sound incredible but it's a bit on the strat-y end of the sonic spectrum. I have those sounds covered. Definitely loolong for a more traditional telecaster neck pickup tone.

When it comes to upgrading a CV are the options limited. I know that the Squier offsets don't have the same measurements as their big Fender brothers. Any pickup recommendations? I played a set of Custom Shop Nocasters in a Korean Squier years ago and they were sublime. What are your faves?
 

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Thanks for all the input. I wasn't sure where the jwcks on the CV series fit into teledom. Apparently I'm a little neck guy at heart (though I could definitely go a little heftier).

The Jerry Donahue Tele looks and sound incredible but it's a bit on the strat-y end of the sonic spectrum. I have those sounds covered. Definitely loolong for a more traditional telecaster neck pickup tone.

When it comes to upgrading a CV are the options limited. I know that the Squier offsets don't have the same measurements as their big Fender brothers. Any pickup recommendations? I played a set of Custom Shop Nocasters in a Korean Squier years ago and they were sublime. What are your faves?
The CV series will work with any vintage-spec Fender upgrades, unlike a MIM or MIA Standard. They use the proper bolt patterns like an AVRI 52.
 

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As long as the neck is to my liking the rest can be upgraded.
So, yeah, you'll have to try a bunch.
You can also upgrade a neck. Look at Warmoth they have lots of selection and their necks will fit the tele pocket(just check your pocket dimensions to be sure)

Or do a custom build. I bought a Warmoth neck(mooncaster style) and had a '72 thinline body made from Best guitar parts in Washington (mahogany). Having if finished by MJT guitars, putting Fralin pickups in. Gonna be a ripper!

Lots of options. Good luck

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After years of ambivalence I have come to the conclusion that I could actually play and enjoy a tele.
What makes a great Tele?
The one that is easiest for you to play. All the rest can be changed with an FX unit, pedals or swapping out parts.
 
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