Road Worn '50s Telecaster review by Fender

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.8 Good
  • Users' score: 8.5 (41 votes)
Fender: Road Worn '50s Telecaster
6

Price paid: $ 568

Purchased from: Guitar Center - Used

Sound — 9
This Telecaster has an extremely solid body and that is apparent in the tone. I have tested with a plethora of amp setups but I keep going back to an EL84 (Dr. Z-esque) sound. I currently run this through an Orange Tiny Terror plugged in to a 1x12 Custom cab loaded with a Celestion Greenback 25 watt speaker. Generally play the amp on the 15watt setting with settings all hovering near the 12 o'clock position. Plugging straight in to this amp with these settings I am easily able to dial in a Brad Paisley type of tone, unfortunately the playing isn't quite there yet, but at least the sound is. Being a Telecaster it has that "spank" that no other guitar has. A biting treble pickup and an extremely snappy rhythm pickup help to set this guitar apart for any other in my arsenal. This guitar is very well balanced in terms of sound and recreates the sounds that many in country, bluegrass, and rock n' roll have recorded over the last half century. If you have never played a Telecaster this is a pretty tough sound to explain but I would really use the word "tight". This guitar produces a sharp, precise sound. No bleed through, just accurate notes ringing through with more chime than you are probably accustomed to. Muddy is the absolute last word I would use to describe this tone. There is a reason Telecasters are notorious in certain genres such as country and bluegrass. The tone is unmistakable and you don't have to sacrifice ease of playing to achieve that tone. Easily tap on a good quality compressor and your chickin' pickin' dreams will come alive. The thing that has surprised me most with this guitar is that it is not one dimensional. I originally got this because I wanted a country tone and expected it to just play some country and light blues. This can really cover a lot more. It is able to dwell into the harder blues rock genre with either amp settings or using some pedals such as a tube screamer. You will find that certain guitars react a lot differently to different pedals and this Telecaster responds extremely well to low gain pedals such as the Ibanez TS808, well to analog delays, and extremely good to different compressors. This also responds very well to my wah, as single coil guitars generally do, and putting on the Russian Big Muff completely transforms the sound. The only down side is the hum of the single coils but other than that I have no issues with this in terms of sound. If you are using this guitar with an amp that has a very low bass response you will most likely need to turn down the tone on either your guitar or your amp because the Telecaster is snappy enough to cause some serious ear damage with the high frequencies. Just be careful, that is all I am saying. For what it is worth though, this Telecaster delivers an astonishing sound. The most impressive part in this section is the body of the guitar combined with the Tex-Mex pickups. The weight of this guitar nearly makes it as heavy as some Les Paul's which really gives it some gusto and depth to the sounds emitted by the pickups. For being a Mexican made guitar the pickups sound incredibly well and sound on par with my American Standard Stratocaster. For the reasons stated above this guitar in sound gets a 9.

Overall Impression — 8
Overall I am extremely impressed with this guitar for a multitude of reasons. I believe: 1) this is a great guitar for being a Mexican made Fender; 2) I believe this is would be a great guitar if it was an American made Fender. The point I am trying to illustrate is that this guitar plays on an equivalent and sometimes better level than its direct Fender American counterparts. Since this guitar is aimed at the 1950's we will not compare it to a Standard American Telecaster, but a great comparison would be the 1952 Vintage Series Telecaster. I recently just played one of those and personally was dissatisfied. I felt that the 1952 Vintage Series did not exhibit any of the feel or swagger that the 1950's Road Worn has. The 1952 looks great, it is an Icon in Rock n' Roll History but I did not think it played nearly as well. Generally speaking I do not like very high gloss guitars but this one was extremely glossy which almost made it sticky, especially movement around the neck. In contrast, the road worn has a satin neck which made it much easier to move around. The Vintage Series just seemed more difficult to play and although it sounded fairly good I actually believe that the Road Worn sounded better. It really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a 1950's Telecaster and do not have the money to afford an original one, or even if you did would be too scared to play the thing in fear of damaging it, put some thoughtful consideration into the Road Worn 1950's Telecaster. Many enthusiasts of the 1950's sometimes put a black pickguard on this and change to brass saddles to make it close to the most popular guitar in the 1950's. Decide on your own, this is my humble opinion but Fender has really crafted some awesome guitars with the Road Worn Series. The 1950's Telecaster in Blonde is the highlight of the entire series for me. As stated, most people either love or hate the relic'd look, and I am sure there will be a substantial amount of comments on it, but one thing is undeniable, the playability. It is such an easy guitar to play, and one of the better Tele's I have ever played. My gripe though about this is the price. All major music retailers are asking $899 USD for this beast. Is it a fantastic guitar, yes, but it is not worth that. I am a huge fan of finding gear on the used market either by means of Craigs List or Guitar Center Online - Used. Buying used saved me $400, out the door after tax and shipping (with a lot of negotiating) was $568. With that being said the used market on these guitars is anywhere from $550-650 but you can definitely argue for a little bit lower price, the problem is supply and demand. There are not a ton of these guitars on the used market and can be very tough to find. Play one first then decide if you want to go on the used search mission. As always if anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to PM me, comment here, etc. Enjoy the tone and happy picking'.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I really have never had any problems with Telecasters. It is one of those things in life, the less you have on something, the less something will go wrong. Same with this, pretty basic, input jack, 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way pickup switch, that's it. I am giving this a 7 because is any guitar really ever perfect? Everything will need a setup or something at some point. Something is bound to go wrong at some point.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
This is generally a love or hate issue for most people out there. Do you like the look of a Road Worn Guitar or do you not like it? Guess what? I love it. No shock as to why I bought this. I am totally fine if you simply just do not like the look of this, that is your opinion and I will respect that until the day I die. I do not appreciate when people say such comments as "only posers buy guitars that have been aged intentionally", "I like aging my own guitars by playing them" (ya good luck with a poly finish), etc. Well as I just stated, I like the look. I don't play near enough to age a Standard guitar from today's production process. In other words, I am not going to be playing 200+ shows a year, touring the world for the next 40 years, which is why most of those guitars look the way they do. Luckily this guitar is sprayed with Nitro which is much worse in protection then a Poly sprayed guitar (most guitars of yesteryear were sprayed in Nitro that is why you see a lot of old strat's and tele's that have significant wear in certain areas). As stated in the description this is a 1950's style Telecaster which would make it anywhere from 50-60 years old. This is what a guitar would look like if played consistently. Fender did a great job aging this guitar from all the minor details to all the major details that one would expect; for that I must say good job to Fender. More specifically they did a great job on the wear on the Telecaster in comparison to the whole RoadWorn Series. In comparison to my review of the Road Worn 50's Stratocaster I believe Fender did a more authentic job of relicing on this Telecaster. It must be mentioned that I own the Blonde colored Telecaster. I do not believe that the Sunburst looks as authentic or aged as well as the Blonde. The Blonde has a great contrast of colors, dents, dings, scrapes, scuffs. It is offset by an aged white Pickguard that brings a certain brightness to the overall look of the guitar. The wear on the neck looks very good as well. Take it from someone who has attempted and is always working on their own relic project that this is not an easy task to do. The neck I have found is the most difficult and they pulled it off with ease. I have picked up another of the exact same guitar for a good friend and was able to analyze his guitar and mine. I believe that Fender has a "stencil" they lay on the guitar of where the wear areas should be and then from there it is done by hand. Although our guitars are the same model the level of wear and patterns are slightly different on both guitars. The wear is in the general area but that is the only thing similar. It is nice to know that each one will be slightly different from the next. This thing was setup great and plays fantastic. Every Telecaster in the Road Worn series I have played has been set up incredibly well. I guess Fender ensures that a $900 Mexican guitar is set up correctly. I am guessing of course that some of you have had vastly different experiences. This area gets an 8 because although I am in love with this guitar I know it is generally a split decision and I am trying to be as objective as possible in terms of a rating. Whether you personally like the relic'd look is not the question of how you should rate it, it should be rated on how well it was done, thus 8/10.

Features — 7
This Telecaster aims to recreate the magic of the 1950's everything from the shape, style, sound, and looks were considered when Fender released this item. Specs of this guitar are: Body: ash (blonde finish) alder (2-tone sunburst) Finish: nitrocellulose lacquer Neck: maple Neck profile: "U" shape Fretboard radius: 7-1/4" Frets: 21 (6105 style) Scale length: 25-1/2" Nut width: 1.650" Hardware: chrome Tuners: Fender Vintage Style Bridge: Vintage style 3-saddle strings-thru-body Pickguard: 1-ply white Pickups: 2 Tex-Mex Tele single-coil Pickup switch: 3-way Controls: master volume, master tone Strings: Fender Standard tension ST250R nickel-plated steel (10-13-17-26-36-46) Very primitive Telecaster features, but in essence most Telecasters are very primitive and simple and that is one of the reasons they are so sought after. No modern appointments here, this is a Tele in one of its truest forms. Before we get too deep into this review let me iterate two things. 1) I am not being paid by Fender to write this, 2) I am past the "honeymoon" stage of this guitar.

33 comments sorted by best / new / date

    barden1069
    I've never liked the look of Relic'd guitars, but I played one of the 50's Strats the other day and it's neck was seriously the most comfortable thing I've ever wrapped my hands around.* Although I thought that the 50's guitars had soft V neck profiles and the 60's switched it to the U shape, but I could be wrong. *inb4 "ololol penis"
    Seref
    Its just aesthetics. I like the look of a relic'd Tele and the look of a shiny new Strat. As far as I'm concerned, a relic is just another finish option.
    barden1069
    Anjohl wrote: I find it hilarious that someone would pay roughly the same fora beat up Mexican guitar as for a brand new American one. Some people want the self image of a "road weary" rock and roller without earning it.
    Good luck wearing off the poly finish they put on production Fenders now... That shit will be around after the fall of civilization.
    thejester
    [quote]K!!LsWiTcH wrote: i just dont like how ive seen relics be more expensive. As if ****ing the guitar up costs more money. quote] i can understand you dont like the pricing, and as i said clearly in the review, this is overpriced at the brand new level. anyways it does take them more time and effort. more eyes are looking over it and customizing it then just a coat of paint and poly and shipping out the guitar
    K!!LsWiTcH
    i just dont like how ive seen relics be more expensive. As if ****ing the guitar up costs more money. regardless good review. i dont like the tele sound but i like the tele feel and look. nobody looks bad with a tele.
    megadethfan 666
    Alpha_Wolf wrote: I'll never understand why people would buy "worn" guitars like these.
    kill it wrote: probably the same reason people buy faded jeans. they like the look better. i have no problem with that and would like to try one of these guitars out. i do like the look of them better and my heart won't skip a beat when it falls or gets dinged. great review.
    +1 I like the worn look on some guitars like this one because it gives a more classic look
    betterman5
    I have a 70's roadworn tele and i love it, but people are going on how posers get roadworn guitars, well i just liked the look, i liked how it was a tribute to my favourite era of music. But above all that its the most comfortable guitar I've ever played and the tones and sound is right for me. At the end of the day I dont care if a guitar is roadworn or not, if it plays well I'll like it.
    milwaukeerocker
    i'm not against the road worn look, it just wouldn't be a selling point to me necessarily. I've played some of these worn Teles and Strats, they consistently have great feel and playability to them. If you get a chance, try one some time.
    thejester
    TheTwoSteps wrote: Whether you personally like the relic'd look is not the question from the review... Yes, he did raise it and squashed it immediately; as to not get into a finish battle.
    thank you twosteps. my point of the 'finish' segment as i said was to rate it not on whether i like it, it is to rate it based on how well it is done. on a sacle of 1-10 it earned an 8. Seref said it well, it is another finish option. and when i bought this it wasnt to fool people into thinking i was a poser who has been playing teles for 40yrs, hell im 25, i like the look and its supposed to be a tele from the 50's.
    kill it
    probably the same reason people buy faded jeans. they like the look better. i have no problem with that and would like to try one of these guitars out. i do like the look of them better and my heart won't skip a beat when it falls or gets dinged. great review.
    Prekket
    The irony that people review reviews on this site, freaking hilarious. xD
    Anjohl
    I find it hilarious that someone would pay roughly the same fora beat up Mexican guitar as for a brand new American one. Some people want the self image of a "road weary" rock and roller without earning it.
    cdsnzeevnaja
    One of the best reviews I've read on here. I'm not a huge fan of Teles', but I loved reading this review. Great, informative and well written. Thank you, and other reviewers, take note!
    metaldoc
    I bought a similar mexi tele around a year back from a buddy, and very much of what was described in this review was spot on!.. it's a very versatile guitar that has potential to sound great recreating many genres.. exceptionally thorough review
    thejester
    barden1069 wrote: Good luck wearing off the poly finish they put on production Fenders now... That shit will be around after the fall of civilization.
    thank you for understanding this. i mean even if you play a guitar as much as a touring musician 150+ shows a year with travel a poly coated guitar will not look like this. poly is great at what it does, in fact about 10times better than nitro, thats why companies use it. it is a great coating to keep guitars looking new. you will not "earn" it on a poly guitar. you will earn dents and dings but wear, not gonna happen
    guitarman1992
    This is the best review I've ever read on UG. Reviewers, the bar has been raised, no more straight tens!!
    guitarman1992
    That looks like a sweet tele, although I'm not too fond of posing as some cat who has been playing a tele for decades. If I ever had the chance to buy one, I wouldn't hesitate.
    TheTwoSteps
    Whether you personally like the relic'd look is not the question
    from the review... Yes, he did raise it and squashed it immediately; as to not get into a finish battle.
    Spud Spudly
    TheTwoSteps wrote: Let's not turn this into a relic vs. shiny argument that has gone on for the last 10 years. Was the review honest...yes. Is the guitar comfortable to play...yes. Go say silly things at a forum dedicated to relic talk.
    The review itself raised the topic.
    TheTwoSteps
    Let's not turn this into a relic vs. shiny argument that has gone on for the last 10 years. Was the review honest...yes. Is the guitar comfortable to play...yes. Go say silly things at a forum dedicated to relic talk.
    whiskychaser
    Spud Spudly wrote: Good review but I have to admit that I'm one of those people who thinks only posers buy guitars that have been "aged" intentionally. It's great to use the same materials and finishes that were used in the 50's, but to intentionally wear it down or puts chips and dings in it? That's just silly.
    silly indeed
    Feaksy
    I've always felt that the intentional worn finishes were for a nostalgic effect rather than image. This tele is a tribute to the era and that shows through the look.
    TheTwoSteps
    Jesus played viola, not teles. Great review; it is refreshing to not see all 10's or criticizing a guitar for not being able to play metal. Regardless of the finish debate, these guitars sound intriguing...american parts.
    PaisleyWilde
    This here is a handsome guitar. I would love to own one. Takes all the work out of beating up a guitar yourself! hahaha. But seriously, I bet it sounds like Jesus
    Spud Spudly
    Good review but I have to admit that I'm one of those people who thinks only posers buy guitars that have been "aged" intentionally. It's great to use the same materials and finishes that were used in the 50's, but to intentionally wear it down or puts chips and dings in it? That's just silly.
    Haanz
    This review is great. Very detailed, great description on tone and the "impressions" summary is concise but detailed. Moreover, the choice to review it after the initial purchase excitement really pays off. Scores are high, but the meat of the review makes me believe them. Frankly, it's just refreshing not to see straight 10's for a change. Overall, very nicely put. We need more reviews of this calibre.
    grapist
    good review, realistic numbers. more of this please, and less "it has da br00tz omg 10 10 10". thanks.
    satchafunkilus8
    barden1069 wrote: I've never liked the look of Relic'd guitars, but I played one of the 50's Strats the other day and it's neck was seriously the most comfortable thing I've ever wrapped my hands around.* Although I thought that the 50's guitars had soft V neck profiles and the 60's switched it to the U shape, but I could be wrong. *inb4 "ololol penis"
    I totally agree that the neck on these guitars are amazing, and the 6105 narrow Jumbo frets have an amazing feel to them, not only with bends but chording as well. Also these guitars come stringed with 10-46's which add a nice touch, it really brings the guitar to life. It really is hard to describe how nice these guitars are, i give it a 10/10 for sure. I used to think that it was a stupid idea buying a basically used guitar for a price of a new American Tele, until I actually went out played and immediately bought it.