American Vintage '52 Telecaster review by Fender

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (42 votes)
Fender: American Vintage '52 Telecaster

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features — 9
First I just got very lucky-my Dad bought a real 53 Esquire seen in my profile pics. Past 15 years I only gigged with it a few times, fear of theft but it is KILLER sounding. On a quest to find the closest, the '52 reissue finally won out & it was a very good choice. Same 7.5 fretboard radius, same butterscotch, & great tele sound. It is much lighter than '53:) but sounds great~! As an interesting side note, there was a lingering difference though.. Then it hit me. With calipers the real '53 is almost 1.75 MM narrower @ the nut!.. May not sound like much but strings are closer all the way up but especially lower 4 positions. Strange I know but I guess that's why it took so long to find a similar tele. Yes I prefer the real deal, but the '52 is such a great tele & the sound is very close to me. The '53 was virgin Alder wood as Leo bought a truckload of alder logs... Genius or luck? That said the ash '52 reissue sounds almost as good, not quite as much resonance/sustain, but brighter, snappier, begging to be spanked with chicken picked', blues or funk! Best of all no worry about $$$ '53 being stolen or damaged. Stays in tune as good teles are known for.

Sound — 10
The tele is far more versatile than many believe it to be. Roll off tone & excellent jazz tone, but open her up & she will cry the blues, smoke the rock, funk almighty. "Stairway" lead was a Tele, as well as many others but the stratocasters have often overshadowed the tele & this 52' reissue nails the sound! Fuchs ODS 30, Budda 18, Boogies, but the Tele gets Kendrick Gig Rig, vintage tweed marriage made in heaven! Vintage rock/jazz/Robin Ford/dance gigs it really covers so much ground. Ford has played teles for years off & on. This '52 reissue does what great teles do.. They always sound like a tele, bright to cut through mix, or smoother ala' George Benson! I love this guitar's playing & it's sound!

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
It was setup very well, I tweaked action a bit, put the transistor (?) in it that made the neck pup usable as most players do. The original was extremely dark & I assume Leo overshot the Jazz vibe neck pup EQ, but we should forgive the genius for that. The fit & finish is outstanding but the nut needs serious attention. The nut on a tele must be absolutely spot on for tuning stability. This '52 the B string buzzed despite 2 semi- pro efforts to fix it. Uncommon but it does happen on teles... Just needs real pro to cut a new nut out of bone for it, meantime small shim of paper under B at nut fixes it. Most I played did not have this, knew it when I bought it because neck shape is so close to the real '53 which has a smaller neck than most would think. Most were not baseball bat necks.

Reliability & Durability — 10
A telecaster stays in tune better than just about anything, '87 PRS not withstanding. How Leo Fender got this iconic guitar so "right" just boggles the mind, with so many loyal tele players to this day. Durability? The real '53 has survived 2 fires, thrown out on concrete by firemen, many gigs in many bars in college, & much abuse. The '52 reissue is just as tough as far as I can tell, & as dependable as any guitar IMUO due to the simplicity of it's genius design by Leo! It is just as beautiful as the '53 was in it's day, with a 60 year proven design & dependability. If I couldn't take a backup, the '52 reissue would be my choice, hands down as I have never had a tele fail me at a gig!

Overall Impression — 9
Vintage rock, country, light jazz band & it smokes Skynyrd. How well a guitar cuts & sits in a "band mix" is what matters IMUO. Been playing 45 years.. Long enough to see just because a player love the tone, doesn't mean it mixes with band well. Heavy handed keyboard players, bass, can leave little space to "sit" in the live mix, being heard but not harsh. In a 4 piece then something fatter & midrange works best. I would buy this specific guitar all over again as the neck shape & thickness is so close to the real '53. If stolen I'd find another regardless of how long it took. The neck being 1.75mm wider at nut compared to real '53 is no real issue, & suits modern guitar specs I have owned '87 PRS, PRS HB 2, strats ES-175 & others. No I do NOT feel the real deal is worth $25,000+!.. Even if I had the bucks! The 52 reissue suits just fine, & '53 stays in bedroom begging to be spanked! It plays beautifully in all positions. One point for the nut flaw.

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