Price paid: C$ 630
Purchased from: Don't Remember
Sound — 10
I love the sound of Teles for Blues. The pickups get me pretty much the sound I want from Teles. In the neck position, the sound is clean and somewhat dark. The middle has a real nice Tele twang. The bridge position is bright and has the bite without being too bright or harsh. I have since upgraded another Fender Tele to these pickups with fab results. These guitars are played through a number of Vintage to re-issued Fender tube amps. I particularly like Fender Deluxe Reverbs. I rate the sound now with the Callaham mods to 10.
Overall Impression — 10
I have been playing Blues for some 30 years now. This is one my favorite Teles along with a few USA G&L Asats. I highly recommend this guitar. Because of the low cost, I am able to change out the pots, Switch and jack for Callaham ones and got really fantastic results. The pickups are great, don't touch them.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have had this guitar for a few years now. The finish is still perfect. Chrome seems to be solid and still shiny. I have replaced the strap buttons with locking ones. Seems reliable and dependable. But I don't gig with it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
It came very well setup. Hardly any adjustments were necessary. The pickup heights were perfect. Fit and fi is beautifully finished. The whole guitar is on the heavy side. About 9 pounds, I think. I couldn't find any flaws. The three color Sunburst finish is great. This is one of the best under $1, 000 guitar I have owned. There are only a few sub $1K that I am keeping and this is one of them. The others are a Fender Special Edition Spalted Maple Telecaster and a Parker PM20.
Features — 9
I purchased the Bill Lawrence USA Swampkaster T (T for Telecaster) in 2006. These guitars use CNC Korean necks and bodies made to specs. The body is made from 3 piece Louisiana Swamp Ash with high quality bounding. The neck is hard rock Maple. These guitars are assembled in San Diego and are very well setup. I chose the Maple fingerboard over the rosewood. The pickups are made in the USA and are better than those from Fender USA. More or less comparable to the quality of G&L Special ASAT or custom Fender pickups but different sounding. The neck is somewhat fat at the lower frets and is quite thin towards the upper frets. It is easy to play, soloing as well as chording. The frets are medium jumbo. There is a 3 ply pickguard. The tone control uses an expensive (vitamin B) oil capacitor which is quite unusual in its price range. The pots are somewhat small and cheap though. I changed out the pots, Switch and jack with Callaham cryogenic treated stuff. It uses a string through body Tele type bridge. Seems to be solid enough. I rate stock a very high 9 because parts in general and fit and finish are outstanding, not commonly found in guitars under $1, 000.