Price paid: $ 395
Purchased from: Small shop in Virginia
Sound — 8
I'm a blues/rock guy. For years, I played guitars with humbuckers, but while shopping for a cheap Les Paul, a sales guy turned me on to the brightness, twang, and sizzle of single-coil pickups. I rarely play anything but Fender these days. Originally, this guitar's pickups were more than adequate, but the 60-hertz hum was almost always there, and I found it annoying. Bill Lawrence's pickups gave me extra punch, a sweet clean sound, and no hum. I highly recommend shielding any guitar that has single-coil pickups. I love this guitar now.
Overall Impression — 9
I'be been playing for nearly 30 years, mostly for my own enjoyment. I have many guitars of all sorts, but always seem to come back to solid-body electrics. This Tele turned me on to the Fender single-coil sound, and now I find humbuckers sort of boring. If this guitar were stolen, I'd be very sad because I've made it what I wanted, and the price, even with the modifications, was low for such a sweet instrument. I recently played a 2007 MIM Std. Tele, and some changes have been made. The frets are more to my liking now, and the pickups are a bit quieter and a little crunchier as well. Excellent clean sounds. I have to recommend this guitar to anyone Who wants classic Tele sound and would be willing to spend a little time on the modifications I've mentioned here.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Anyone Who knows Teles knows they're built to take a beating. This one is no exception. Strap buttons were fine, but I put Dunlop straplocks on everything I own. Modified, this guitar ties with my American Strat as a favorite axe. If I could have one thing changed at this point, it would be the frets, I'd prefer medium-jumbo on a slightly thicker neck, and I may invest eventually in a custom neck for this reason. Or maybe I'll leave a great guitar alone.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The fit and finish on the 2003 Standard Telecaster is remarkable. As other reviewers have said, if you didn't see it on the headstock, you wouldn't know that this guitar was made in Mexico. Paint is perfect, as is the neck. Action is nice and low with very little buzz, which I can tolerate. If I wanted to get rid of that by giving the neck a little more relief, I'm sure I could, but I don't want to mess with a good thing. Original tuners are excellent; guitar stays in tune, period. Original tailpiece was okay, too, but I wanted the classic sound and look, and I got it with the brass barrel saddles.
Features — 8
My guitar is a 2003 model, three-color sunburst, maple neck with Vintage frets, slim "C" contour. Original pickups replaced with Bill Lawrence 280 series noiseless single-coils. Standard tailpiece replaced with Wilkinson Vintage with brass compensated saddles. Pickup and control cavities have been copper shielded. Everything else is Standard.