American Special Telecaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (48 votes)
Fender: American Special Telecaster
0

Price paid: $ 799

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Sound — 10
I've owned a slew of Telecasters. One U.S., one MIM, one MII Squire and one MIC Squire. The only one I still own of that bunch is a 93 MIM Telecaster Standard, so I use it for comparison. The US Special has maybe a more polished sound. The MIM is rougher, but not by much. The US Special hits my amp a little harder than the MIM but again, not by much. Unlike the MIM, the US Special's range of pickup tones are all useful. I find myself using the middle mode more than I thought I would (on the MIM I never use it...better pickups on the U.S. perhaps? ). It's got the Telecaster sound I've grown to love but it's a little more versatile for what I do (indie/noise rock). My chain is guitar -> Blue Monster WOOF! clean boost -> Ibanez Turbo Tubescreamer (on + setting) -> Danelectro Grilled Cheese tremolo -> MXR Phase 90 -> MXR Carbon Copy -> Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10 (for loud shows) or 1960's Alamo Challenger 1x10 10w tube combo (for solo shows). My rhythm tone is clean right on the edge of dirt. I roll the Telecaster's volume back a little to clean it up and work the volume (which is why I LOVE the greasebucket circuit...though oddly I don't notice much high end roll-off with the MIM).

Overall Impression — 10
Overall...this guitar is just the right one for me. It gives me the right amount of bite for clean and rhythm and has enough oomph as a distorted rhythm. I don't play leads that much, but when I do I can still be spanky like a good Tele should be but the other pup positions give me tones that most wouldn't associate with a Tele. Would I buy it all over again? You bet! Am I 100% happy? Well...let's say 99% happy. Wished it came in a larger choice of colors (I might have chosen something different than white). For the color to be the only thing you're unhappy about says that this is a fine guitar. For this hack it's quite nice enough.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I've been using this guitar live for several months and I am still loving it. The neck feels already broken-in and it is easy to play. Tuners are solid, the bridge is solid, the guitar just feels right and plays right. That was something I didn't get from picking up any number of Classic Vibe Squiers or most MIM Teles. It's a great guitar at a great price. I wanted to invest in a guitar that I would keep for the ages, and that is what it is. Expensive and nice enough to cherish, not so expensive that I'll cry when it gets its first ding. PS: I never gig without a backup. I hate to watch bands restring onstage mid-set. But now my beloved and much cherished red 93 MIM Tele is relegated to DADGAD/backup duty.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Mine came from the factory set-up with 9's. I played two gigs on the factory strings without any intonation issues. When I popped the D string at the third show I went ahead and restrung with my usual 11's. Intonation and action just as good as before. Considering this is an AMERICAN guitar and it cost as much as it did I'd expect nothing less. Anyhow, the guitar came from the factory gig-ready. If there are any issues from the factory finish-wise I have not noticed.

Features — 9
+ made sometime in 2009/2010 + 22 jumbo frets on a maple neck/fretboard + alder body with glossy finish (mine is oly white w/black pickguard) + Vintage 3-brass saddle bridge with string-thru body + Texas Special pickups with Standard tone/volume/3 position pickup selector + wired for Greasebucket Tone Circuit (meaning that if you roll the volume back on the guitar it does not also roll off high end) + American Standard tuners + comes with deluxe gig bag, truss rod wrench, and shammy My one complaint? Wish it came with a hard case. At this price though I'm lucky I got a bag!

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Shayne777
    well i guess we can all thank bananahammock for writing the rules on how guitar must be played with no exceptions
    Clashy
    bananahammock wrote: drop a duncan in it and its still only a single pole pickups, hotrails at best, but not a humbucker, and anyone who knows tone knows single coils arnt gunna cut it and give you the beef for metal, no matter how much distortion u stick ontop of it, and kodakak, i have a 7 string, and have played many many 7 strings, they have very thin necks usually, the fretboard may be wide, but they tend to have ibanez wizard 3 or wizard 5 type necks.
    I'm pretty sure that a hotrails IS in fact a humbucker, condensed so that it can fit into a single coil slot. A lot of the guys in Iron Maiden use the hotrails. I have one in the bridge of my Strat, and it has more beef than the Dimarzio full sized humbuckers in my Ibanez.
    rv_phoenix
    I kinda appreciate this fierceful fight over a Tele. But dear I say you're too young and sometimes (like we all did at your age) miss the point. First of all, guitars - especially those well designed, like Teles, Strats, LPs or SGs - are more versatile that you might think. Within certain limitations, a good guitar can (and has to) play everything, from jazz to metal, including blues, country, folk, hillibilly dances and so on. If it doesn't, then it's not such a good guitar. The metal thing is also corrupted by image: you're too influenced by bands you've seen on stage, when you judge a Tele for not being suitable for metal. Actually, there are two Tele models in the current Fender range, factory provided with 2 high output humbuckers: the Tele Custom and the Tele Blacktop. Both of then can stand any type and any level of distortion, their pickups being as tough as any pickup in a Dean or ESP "metal" axe. I know within newer generations of guitar players it lies a conviction that distortion comes from pickups. It's completely false. High output pickups can boost the distortion, but with good electronics - an all metal bands you know have their Randalls or Mesa Boogies - you can get great distortion even from a vintage single coil. The only pre-condition for that is to be a real pickup, not a cheap Chinese or Korean crap. It's up to you to decide whether you play metal on a Tele or not. The important thing is to play, not to pretend to. But that's another story.
    Linkerman
    ...from what I understand gigging without a back up guitar is just looking for trouble and a bad show
    What? All the local bands in my town (my band included) play gigs without backup guitars, and they put out great shows without any problems. A backup guitar is only an insurance, should anything happen to the guitar you're using. But the lack of a backup guitar doesn't cause a bad show. As an example of something going wrong and not hindering a show, my cousin broke the A-string and a tone knob on his SG copy mid-concert. He just kept playing, improvised a lot, and the show was awesome despite his damaged guitar. A backup guitar is always a good gig "insurance", but a really good player can work around most of the problems. (Except fatal things like the guitar's electronics going dead, but fortunately i've never seen that kind of things happen. :p )
    araby1
    NB: there is no basic difference between the mexican and the american standard fenders. Production has been introduced in mexico to meet demands for production, which can not be reached in the US alone. this is due to federal gov regulations on co2 and greenhouse gas emissions (produced from the varnishing laquers used for the guitars)in this case. Therefore, production has been introduced in mexico - where the same regulations do not apply! There may be a small degree of difference in the finish - but nothing a professional set up can't fix.
    bananahammock
    drop a duncan in it and its still only a single pole pickups, hotrails at best, but not a humbucker, and anyone who knows tone knows single coils arnt gunna cut it and give you the beef for metal, no matter how much distortion u stick ontop of it, and kodakak, i have a 7 string, and have played many many 7 strings, they have very thin necks usually, the fretboard may be wide, but they tend to have ibanez wizard 3 or wizard 5 type necks.
    flame843
    using a telecaster in metal isn't unheard of. jari from wintersun plays a tele.
    devinbryndel
    I love all the talk about metal on this review. First off no guitar is limited. If I want to use a Dean for mellow jazz I can (I wouldnt because deans are trash). It's all about the pickups and your amp set up. I can take a telecaster thinline and slap some emgs in it and BAM! Metal... Stop hating on Telecasters. It's the most versatile guitar on the market. "It doesn't look metal"- well why would you want a guitar that looks like a metal guitar. I'm sorry but 100 jagged wood curves making a flame design looks ridiculous. Buy something timeless. p.s. this guitar is amazing. I prefer the American Standard but this is a good buy for 300 less
    shmeegle
    DeadlyKombat wrote: i like how it blends into the background. im surprised you didnt mention that feature.
    I was playing one of these recently and it's actually more of a cream colour. Pity, 'cause white would be so much nicer.
    Swannie
    bananahammock wrote: "the only thing holding it back from being a great metal guitar " :haha: omg. so much fail, no,just no. using teles for metal is sacralidge, and as for "the only thing" what about the fact its got fairly thick neck, not a metal neck at all, no tremolo, and doesnt look suited to metal at all, its a god damn blues country and general cleans guitar, distortion is only acceptable with a tele on solos of an already quite beefy blues songs. im going to blow a fuse is i see one more moron abusing his gear, by playing a tele through heavily distorted solid state amp. :rage:
    also, what about John 5?
    Swannie
    bananahammock wrote: "the only thing holding it back from being a great metal guitar " :haha: omg. so much fail, no,just no. using teles for metal is sacralidge, and as for "the only thing" what about the fact its got fairly thick neck, not a metal neck at all, no tremolo, and doesnt look suited to metal at all, its a god damn blues country and general cleans guitar, distortion is only acceptable with a tele on solos of an already quite beefy blues songs. im going to blow a fuse is i see one more moron abusing his gear, by playing a tele through heavily distorted solid state amp. :rage:
    its actually got a very thin, flat neck
    grantburgh
    DualReaver wrote: so are specials like the new highway ones or something
    specials are supposed to bridge the gap between highway one and US standard
    grantburgh
    bananahammock wrote: "the only thing holding it back from being a great metal guitar " :haha: omg. so much fail, no,just no. using teles for metal is sacralidge, and as for "the only thing" what about the fact its got fairly thick neck, not a metal neck at all, no tremolo, and doesnt look suited to metal at all, its a god damn blues country and general cleans guitar, distortion is only acceptable with a tele on solos of an already quite beefy blues songs. im going to blow a fuse is i see one more moron abusing his gear, by playing a tele through heavily distorted solid state amp. :rage:
    AGREED! so true
    Swannie
    bananahammock wrote: "the only thing holding it back from being a great metal guitar " :haha: omg. so much fail, no,just no. using teles for metal is sacralidge, and as for "the only thing" what about the fact its got fairly thick neck, not a metal neck at all, no tremolo, and doesnt look suited to metal at all, its a god damn blues country and general cleans guitar, distortion is only acceptable with a tele on solos of an already quite beefy blues songs. im going to blow a fuse is i see one more moron abusing his gear, by playing a tele through heavily distorted solid state amp. :rage:
    let's all change how we view everything so we can make this douche happy
    n2dabloo
    I just bought one of these 2 days ago and I'm lovin' it so far. I usually spend most of my time learning blues licks playing through an Epi Blues Custom 30 amp. A quick stomp on the digitech DF-7 and I can get all the metal sounds I need
    DeadlyKombat
    i like how it blends into the background. im surprised you didnt mention that feature.
    kodadak
    dude you can get metal sounds from Fenders ( which pwn all other guitars in my opinion), I can make some satanic sounds with my Jag and Raven amp. And for all the people complaining about wide necks, all the 7 strings you hear in Nu-Metal don't exactly have thin necks
    Shayne777
    slipknot_420 wrote: U couldnt have it set up for 2 weeks and the action was so high u couldnt bare it, then y not lower it lol U should learn how to at least do a quick setup if u claim to play guitar!
    i can set up the action on my Dean fine but the tele bridge is a little wierd and i figuered i didn't want to start messing around with it when i had a free proffesional setup coming up
    TheDissident
    I wouldn't be able to remark on metal, but I know Greenwood uses a Tele on his Radiohead work, and that distortion and all the other weird ass noise he makes sounds fine. I guess it's all in the way you use it, though I don't usually see a lot of metal guitar players using teles. Not a bad reviews though, he mentioned things in enough detail to convince people that it's NOT a metal guitar, so obviously he wrote a solid overview of the equipment...
    themelodicdeathshow
    steveman_guitar wrote: i don't know about that. Give the guy a break, i know how to change action but im just scared of doing it. I just think its safer to go with a pro
    Seriously i learned how to do setups within 2 months of playing, i look at it this way my guitars/amps are my tools and i do at least want to know my equipment, my instuctor taught me this and i stand by it, im not putting him down but at least learn a little about ur instrument that u play. I like to know when my axe isnt sounding like it should i can fix it, not have to wait for a so called pro to do it, unless hes you and has your exact prefferences he cant set the guitar up. Idk im ranting now peace nice axe!!
    dementiacaptain
    bananahammock wrote: "the only thing holding it back from being a great metal guitar " :haha: omg. so much fail, no,just no. using teles for metal is sacralidge, and as for "the only thing" what about the fact its got fairly thick neck, not a metal neck at all, no tremolo, and doesnt look suited to metal at all, its a god damn blues country and general cleans guitar, distortion is only acceptable with a tele on solos of an already quite beefy blues songs. im going to blow a fuse is i see one more moron abusing his gear, by playing a tele through heavily distorted solid state amp. :rage:
    relax. drop a duncan in that baby you got a metal guitar. and most metal requires NO tremolo of vibrato. AND alot of necks are thicker. on all les paul style guitars the necks are thicker and most v's. god, such dramatic opinions. and dont hate on solid states. I believe a certain pantera guitarist was a fan of randall solid state. they are just fine, all a matter of preference.
    steveman_guitar
    i don't know about that. Give the guy a break, i know how to change action but im just scared of doing it. I just think its safer to go with a pro
    themelodicdeathshow
    U couldnt have it set up for 2 weeks and the action was so high u couldnt bare it, then y not lower it lol U should learn how to at least do a quick setup if u claim to play guitar!
    ProgFolk12
    I've seen some great reviews of these and the specs look great but was never a huge fan of the Highway 1's. I worry how they could make a guitar that undercuts the US standards by 150 that good...I'm definately interested in the Strat though, Tex Mex pups+US made, sounds promising. However, I'm not a fan of the 70's headstock and gloss poly finish
    joey arce
    beter then the highway one, but yes they are taking the place of the highway one
    EpiExplorer
    I've never liked Teles in metal. They look too soft.. But teles are always grand, so nyuh xP
    Shayne777
    and jim root and john 5 since when does a guitar have to have a thin neck to play metal and distortion is accetpatble anywhere it sounds good
    bananahammock
    "the only thing holding it back from being a great metal guitar " :haha: omg. so much fail, no,just no. using teles for metal is sacralidge, and as for "the only thing" what about the fact its got fairly thick neck, not a metal neck at all, no tremolo, and doesnt look suited to metal at all, its a god damn blues country and general cleans guitar, distortion is only acceptable with a tele on solos of an already quite beefy blues songs. im going to blow a fuse is i see one more moron abusing his gear, by playing a tele through heavily distorted solid state amp. :rage: