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Like sex and the wheel, Leo Fender’s greatest invention remains largely unchanged over half a century later. One unrefined slab of wood. 21 frets. Two pickups. No vibrato. Any questions?
How do you facelift the original ‘50s Tele for a new generation without alienating the purists? Fender reckons its walked the tightrope with this Standard model, whose Mexico origins mean it’s cheaper than the USA equivalent: “The Standard Tele incorporates the best of old and new, offering hotter singlecoils, shielded body cavities, medium jumbo frets, cast and sealed machineheads and a six-saddle strings-throughbody bridge.”
Other ‘new’ features (tinted neck, parchment pickguard) are more cosmetic.
The neck singlecoil punches out warm rhythm with rare class, the bite of the bridge is still nasal after all these years and the classic ‘in-between’ setting (every Tele fan’s favourite) gives that glorious, idiosyncratic quack that props up some of rock’s best moments.
It might seem crushingly predictable to award gold star to Fender, but it’s a decision based on performance, not preconceptions. This guitar just feels right, with that chunky body and bolted neck offering a no nonsense platform that means your fingers do the talking. Throw in a competitive price and it’s all over.
Pros: Feel, tone and kudos.
Cons: Sub £500? No complaints.