Price paid: $ 699.99
Purchased from: Sweetwater.com
Features: One of the main reasons I picked up this guitar was the finish. This is a FSR release of the Antigua finish that originally appeared on the Telecaster in 1977. Original Antigua guitars (not the botch MIJ release) are pretty rare and way out of my budget, so this was absolutely perfect for me. It comes loaded with Vintage pickups, and alder body and a maple neck. The neck is their nice, fat "U" shaped profile with a 7.25" fingerboard radius (21 frets, 25.5" scale). It also has the standard three way switch and wiring. It has all chrome hardware and slotted Vintage style tuners. Overall, a great package with a killer paint job - of course, I know some of you will disagree.
Comparatively speaking, this is a fancied up MIM Standard Telecaster as far as I can tell. My only real issue, as with any Telecaster are the saddles. I just cannot stand the threaded steel "T" saddles, I wish Fender would just start using compensated "T" saddles.
Overall, I give the features an 8/10. My bias on the saddles knocked this one down a bit, plus the truss rod adjustment is under the pick guard making it terribly inconvenient for adjustments. Again, both are personal preference. Also, bonus points for being one of only 180 made in this production run. // 8
Sound: I usually play modern rock, I'm certainly not a shredder or speed player by any means. I run my guitars through a B-52 AT-212 tube amp and use only the clean channel. For effects, I have various stomp boxes and primarily use clean tones. But, for some gritty sound I go between an ODC V4 and a Big Muff Pi.
Bridge pickup sounds very typical telecaster: crystal clear and bright. The mid and low range remain very well balanced in the mix as well. The neck pickup really stands out for me, it warms up the sound and brings the midrange way up in the mix without getting muddy and killing off the high end. I like playing a lot of chords in my music, making subtle variations along the way. This guitar does a great job of picking up small nuances in my playing style. I gave it a 7/10 here because I didn't get to dig into it much before I noticed some issues. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: I'll keep my story short on this one. Essentially, the nut was setup so poorly from the factory that my Luther had to replace it before I could even play the guitar. The E strings were good, the DGB strings were too high and the A string was too low. Additionally, all the strings were binding and wouldn't stay in tune (or go into tune for that matter). I expected that I would have to get a basic setup on a new guitar, but not have to immediately put on a new nut because the one it came with is virtually unfixable.
I will say, HUGE kudos to Sweetwater here, their Sr. Tech emailed me and said they would reimburse me for putting in a new nut and deal with Fender on my behalf. These guys went well out of their way here and I applaud them for it. I was going to reach out to Fender personally to get it sorted out, but Sweetwater stepped up (without me even asking) and took care of it.
Beyond that... Those saddles... Man, I really hate them. It's pretty hard to intonate a Telecaster without getting compensated saddles. Fender loses major points here, but again, I've found that this wasn't the case with the rest of the Telecasters. Seems like it was only mine. Bummer. // 2
Reliability & Durability: Can't really comment on this one yet, as I've just started using the guitar. But from what I can tell so far, this is a solidly built guitar that shouldn't have a problem standing up to my abuse when gigging. // 8
Overall Impression: Other than the initial problems with setup and the nut, I love this guitar. It looks sexy, has that renown Telecaster sound and feels great to play with the fat neck and 7.25" radius. If you like the look and have a chance to pick one up, I'd strongly recommend it. While it doesn't really sound any different than a standard telecaster, it is unique and remains in the same price range. // 8