Road Worn '50s Telecaster Review

manufacturer: Fender date: 11/09/2012 category: Electric Guitars
Fender: Road Worn '50s Telecaster
An old school Telecaster assembled in Mexico with all American parts that give its closest American counterpart a serious run for the money.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 8
 Reliability & Durability: 7
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8
 Features: 7
 Overall rating:
 8.2 
 Reviewer rating:
 7.8 
 Users rating:
 8.5 
 Votes:
 41 
review (1) pictures (4) 33 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 7.8
Road Worn '50s Telecaster Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 09, 2012
6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 568

Purchased from: Guitar Center - Used

Features: This Telecaster aims to recreate the magic of the 1950's everything from the shape, style, sound, and looks were considered when Fender released this item. Specs of this guitar are: Body: ash (blonde finish) alder (2-tone sunburst) Finish: nitrocellulose lacquer Neck: maple Neck profile: "U" shape Fretboard radius: 7-1/4" Frets: 21 (6105 style) Scale length: 25-1/2" Nut width: 1.650" Hardware: chrome Tuners: Fender Vintage Style Bridge: Vintage style 3-saddle strings-thru-body Pickguard: 1-ply white Pickups: 2 Tex-Mex Tele single-coil Pickup switch: 3-way Controls: master volume, master tone Strings: Fender Standard tension ST250R nickel-plated steel (10-13-17-26-36-46) Very primitive Telecaster features, but in essence most Telecasters are very primitive and simple and that is one of the reasons they are so sought after. No modern appointments here, this is a Tele in one of its truest forms. Before we get too deep into this review let me iterate two things. 1) I am not being paid by Fender to write this, 2) I am past the "honeymoon" stage of this guitar. // 7

Sound: This Telecaster has an extremely solid body and that is apparent in the tone. I have tested with a plethora of amp setups but I keep going back to an EL84 (Dr. Z-esque) sound. I currently run this through an Orange Tiny Terror plugged in to a 1x12 Custom cab loaded with a Celestion Greenback 25 watt speaker. Generally play the amp on the 15watt setting with settings all hovering near the 12 o'clock position. Plugging straight in to this amp with these settings I am easily able to dial in a Brad Paisley type of tone, unfortunately the playing isn't quite there yet, but at least the sound is. Being a Telecaster it has that "spank" that no other guitar has. A biting treble pickup and an extremely snappy rhythm pickup help to set this guitar apart for any other in my arsenal. This guitar is very well balanced in terms of sound and recreates the sounds that many in country, bluegrass, and rock n' roll have recorded over the last half century. If you have never played a Telecaster this is a pretty tough sound to explain but I would really use the word "tight". This guitar produces a sharp, precise sound. No bleed through, just accurate notes ringing through with more chime than you are probably accustomed to. Muddy is the absolute last word I would use to describe this tone. There is a reason Telecasters are notorious in certain genres such as country and bluegrass. The tone is unmistakable and you don't have to sacrifice ease of playing to achieve that tone. Easily tap on a good quality compressor and your chickin' pickin' dreams will come alive. The thing that has surprised me most with this guitar is that it is not one dimensional. I originally got this because I wanted a country tone and expected it to just play some country and light blues. This can really cover a lot more. It is able to dwell into the harder blues rock genre with either amp settings or using some pedals such as a tube screamer. You will find that certain guitars react a lot differently to different pedals and this Telecaster responds extremely well to low gain pedals such as the Ibanez TS808, well to analog delays, and extremely good to different compressors. This also responds very well to my wah, as single coil guitars generally do, and putting on the Russian Big Muff completely transforms the sound. The only down side is the hum of the single coils but other than that I have no issues with this in terms of sound. If you are using this guitar with an amp that has a very low bass response you will most likely need to turn down the tone on either your guitar or your amp because the Telecaster is snappy enough to cause some serious ear damage with the high frequencies. Just be careful, that is all I am saying. For what it is worth though, this Telecaster delivers an astonishing sound. The most impressive part in this section is the body of the guitar combined with the Tex-Mex pickups. The weight of this guitar nearly makes it as heavy as some Les Paul's which really gives it some gusto and depth to the sounds emitted by the pickups. For being a Mexican made guitar the pickups sound incredibly well and sound on par with my American Standard Stratocaster. For the reasons stated above this guitar in sound gets a 9. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: This is generally a love or hate issue for most people out there. Do you like the look of a Road Worn Guitar or do you not like it? Guess what? I love it. No shock as to why I bought this. I am totally fine if you simply just do not like the look of this, that is your opinion and I will respect that until the day I die. I do not appreciate when people say such comments as "only posers buy guitars that have been aged intentionally", "I like aging my own guitars by playing them" (ya good luck with a poly finish), etc. Well as I just stated, I like the look. I don't play near enough to age a Standard guitar from today's production process. In other words, I am not going to be playing 200+ shows a year, touring the world for the next 40 years, which is why most of those guitars look the way they do. Luckily this guitar is sprayed with Nitro which is much worse in protection then a Poly sprayed guitar (most guitars of yesteryear were sprayed in Nitro that is why you see a lot of old strat's and tele's that have significant wear in certain areas). As stated in the description this is a 1950's style Telecaster which would make it anywhere from 50-60 years old. This is what a guitar would look like if played consistently. Fender did a great job aging this guitar from all the minor details to all the major details that one would expect; for that I must say good job to Fender. More specifically they did a great job on the wear on the Telecaster in comparison to the whole RoadWorn Series. In comparison to my review of the Road Worn 50's Stratocaster I believe Fender did a more authentic job of relicing on this Telecaster. It must be mentioned that I own the Blonde colored Telecaster. I do not believe that the Sunburst looks as authentic or aged as well as the Blonde. The Blonde has a great contrast of colors, dents, dings, scrapes, scuffs. It is offset by an aged white Pickguard that brings a certain brightness to the overall look of the guitar. The wear on the neck looks very good as well. Take it from someone who has attempted and is always working on their own relic project that this is not an easy task to do. The neck I have found is the most difficult and they pulled it off with ease. I have picked up another of the exact same guitar for a good friend and was able to analyze his guitar and mine. I believe that Fender has a "stencil" they lay on the guitar of where the wear areas should be and then from there it is done by hand. Although our guitars are the same model the level of wear and patterns are slightly different on both guitars. The wear is in the general area but that is the only thing similar. It is nice to know that each one will be slightly different from the next. This thing was setup great and plays fantastic. Every Telecaster in the Road Worn series I have played has been set up incredibly well. I guess Fender ensures that a $900 Mexican guitar is set up correctly. I am guessing of course that some of you have had vastly different experiences. This area gets an 8 because although I am in love with this guitar I know it is generally a split decision and I am trying to be as objective as possible in terms of a rating. Whether you personally like the relic'd look is not the question of how you should rate it, it should be rated on how well it was done, thus 8/10. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I really have never had any problems with Telecasters. It is one of those things in life, the less you have on something, the less something will go wrong. Same with this, pretty basic, input jack, 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way pickup switch, that's it. I am giving this a 7 because is any guitar really ever perfect? Everything will need a setup or something at some point. Something is bound to go wrong at some point. // 7

Overall Impression: Overall I am extremely impressed with this guitar for a multitude of reasons. I believe: 1) this is a great guitar for being a Mexican made Fender; 2) I believe this is would be a great guitar if it was an American made Fender. The point I am trying to illustrate is that this guitar plays on an equivalent and sometimes better level than its direct Fender American counterparts. Since this guitar is aimed at the 1950's we will not compare it to a Standard American Telecaster, but a great comparison would be the 1952 Vintage Series Telecaster. I recently just played one of those and personally was dissatisfied. I felt that the 1952 Vintage Series did not exhibit any of the feel or swagger that the 1950's Road Worn has. The 1952 looks great, it is an Icon in Rock n' Roll History but I did not think it played nearly as well. Generally speaking I do not like very high gloss guitars but this one was extremely glossy which almost made it sticky, especially movement around the neck. In contrast, the road worn has a satin neck which made it much easier to move around. The Vintage Series just seemed more difficult to play and although it sounded fairly good I actually believe that the Road Worn sounded better. It really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a 1950's Telecaster and do not have the money to afford an original one, or even if you did would be too scared to play the thing in fear of damaging it, put some thoughtful consideration into the Road Worn 1950's Telecaster. Many enthusiasts of the 1950's sometimes put a black pickguard on this and change to brass saddles to make it close to the most popular guitar in the 1950's. Decide on your own, this is my humble opinion but Fender has really crafted some awesome guitars with the Road Worn Series. The 1950's Telecaster in Blonde is the highlight of the entire series for me. As stated, most people either love or hate the relic'd look, and I am sure there will be a substantial amount of comments on it, but one thing is undeniable, the playability. It is such an easy guitar to play, and one of the better Tele's I have ever played. My gripe though about this is the price. All major music retailers are asking $899 USD for this beast. Is it a fantastic guitar, yes, but it is not worth that. I am a huge fan of finding gear on the used market either by means of Craigs List or Guitar Center Online - Used. Buying used saved me $400, out the door after tax and shipping (with a lot of negotiating) was $568. With that being said the used market on these guitars is anywhere from $550-650 but you can definitely argue for a little bit lower price, the problem is supply and demand. There are not a ton of these guitars on the used market and can be very tough to find. Play one first then decide if you want to go on the used search mission. As always if anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to PM me, comment here, etc. Enjoy the tone and happy picking'. // 8


- Jesse Kleinow (thejester) (c) 2012

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