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!