The Fender John 5 Ghost Telecaster is one of the worst-kept secrets in electric guitar. Indeed, could we even call it a secret, when we knew it was coming, with the new Mötley Crüe shredder-in-chief already test driving it on one of the most high-profile rock tours of the year?
Well, it matters little now, because it is officially here, it’s available to buy, it ain’t cheap but it may well be one of the most crazy Fender Telecasters to have been put into production. It might well be one of the craziest Teles ever but John 5's see-through custom neon-gunk lava lamp model takes some beating on that score.
Where do you start? The finish, it has to be the finish. This is where John 5’s Tele gets its name, as Fender applied an Arctic White Gloss to body and headstock, with an all-white fingerboard and neck too.
A red nut, red pickup bobbins, red binding, red switch tips and controls add a splash of colour for contrast, while a mirrored pickguard and control plate rounds things off quite nicely. There’s even a little red in the headstock and the washers for the tuning posts, giving them the look of bloodshot eyes.
This aesthetic won’t be for everyone but it is thematically apt; it lets us know that we are through the looking glass and dealing with a very different Telecaster.
“I’ve played Telecasters my whole life and getting to design my own is a dream come true,” said John 5. “When it came to design, I was inspired by some of Fender’s previous collaborations, but sought to create a model that would be both visually stunning and comfortable to play. Fender helped me design a Telecaster that was different from anything else on the market and the easy-to-play all-white fretboard and unique pickguard is proof of that.”
The raw materials are familiar. The Ghost Telecaster is comprised of a solid alder body, a bolt-on maple neck that’s carved into a custom medium C profile and topped with a 9.5” radius fingerboard. This doesn’t mess with the fundamentals of Tele design.
There are 22 narrow tall frets. There is no ergonomic back carve here. No contouring on the lower cutaway, no ergonomic heel sculpt. This isn’t an American Ultra. You’ll have to get up to the dusty end of the ‘board the old-fashioned way, through talent and desire. Sometimes those high notes sound better when you suffer for them.
But John 5 and Fender have rigged this thing for the 21st century, routing it for a pair of high-output DiMarzio D Activator humbuckers at the neck and bridge positions for “harmonically rich modern crunch”, active pickups but with a wider range of dynamics.
There is a single volume control – a Gibson-style speed knob – and an arcade button that operates the kill-switch. The pickup selector is mounted on the shoulder.
Other signature touches include the engraved neck plate and the signature hard-shell guitar case and COA the guitar ships in. And there is an accessories pack that features a matching John 5 guitar strap, guitar cable and 351 celluloid guitar picks.
The hardware is a safe choice, with a six-saddle string-through Tele bridge – its plate routed for the humbucker – featuring a block-steel design. A set of locking tuners will keep things tidy.
The John 5 Telecaster is a limited edition run, and it is priced £2,859 / $2,999. For more details and pics, head over to Fender.