Just under two years ago I happened to be looking for a Telecaster to add to my tonal collection. I had originally wanted to find one in the tobacco burst, similar to the one Frusciante can be seen playing in the By The Way era of the RHCP. I had come across one at the Markham L&M which aside from a nasty ding on the back near the jack, played and sounded just like a Tele should. However, with the damage L&M was unable to make a good enough deal so I went searching elsewhere.
I then wound up looking at the 12th Fret and was pretty close to settling on an American Standard model. Again though, I felt as though I could probably find a better deal elsewhere. This led me to looking online on Kijiji, which within one day had me travelling to Cambridge, ON to pickup a wonderful 2005 Telecaster Deluxe in Heritage Cherry.
I managed to negotiate a great deal because there were some minor (very minor) cometic dings on the upper face of the larger body contour and a minor ding near the jack. All were present only in the finish and didn’t extended into the body or have any finish coming off. After a quick test I handed the cash over and the Tele was all mine.
Oddly I have a nack for getting instruments dated between 2005-2007 and aside from the Strat, my remaining guitars are all in a cherry finish. It’s not a choice by any means but is just some strange coincidence or sign from the universe at large.
For anyone not familiar with the modern Deluxe series, Fender made a number of major changes to the body contours and wiring; removing and shopping the upper portion like a Strat and also removing the heel at the base of the neck. The electronics offer a parallel/series switch as well as noiseless SCN pickups (later changed to Alnico in 2008). The neck also offers some very nice mother of pearl inlay dots and a raised silver Fender logo. This Tele might be a little flashy for some but I honestly love the details and the pick guard that just makes this stand out from other Teles.
Tonally this Tele nails those country classics and classic rock twang but also when switched into parallel also has a real hum bucker tone. I do have to mention that the SCN pickups aren’t as loud/hot as some versions available from Fender but it’s easy to compensate with a line booster if you really need the extra drive.
I’ve certainly been asked what the real difference between the Strat and the Tele’s tone really is and it’s pretty simple to describe. The Strat has a very hot sound, one that can push an amp almost as well as most humbuckers. The Tele on the other hand has a much more nuanced slightly less driven tone. Also depending on the wiring, Strats don’t offer a middle position that has all three pickups on, while the Tele does with it’s two pickups. There is also a brightness but also softness to the Tele tone that lends it to be much more of a dynamics chameleon. Play it soft and it’ll sit in the back, play it hard and it will punch right through.
I was lucky enough to have added this guitar right before finishing up work on the Red Sky album and this Tele was, along with a Lo Fi delay, the inspiration behind the sounds and playing on Wake Up. I really wanted something that would lend to the gradual builds and progressions of the delay but also remain clean but also drive when played hard. The Tele immediately made its impact and is the tonal character of the song.
If you have a chance to grab one of these SCN Deluxe’s I would highly recommend it, the SCN pickups really to emulate the classic 50s/60s tones better than the current offerings. It may seem like a minor thing, but remember that the Tele really is all about dynamics and the pickups are the second biggest factor to that.