Fender's 2021 lineup of signature guitars is a strong field. There is Tash Sultana's do-it-all HSS Strat, a judicious replica of Chrissie Hynde's Telecaster, and if you have a lottery win burning a hole in your pocket, the news that Mike McCready's Stratocaster has now exited the Custom Shop might interest you.
Deciding on a favourite? That's a tough gig. But we'd bet good money that Jason Isbell's Custom Telecaster would land a podium finish, because, frankly, it is exquisite.
There is something undeniably pleasing about a double-bound Telecaster body, and Isbell's Custom Telecaster, finished in a Road Worn Chocolate Sunburst is an exemplar of the type. It has an alder body, a bolt-on maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard carved into a vintage-appropriate 7.25" radius and topped with 21 frets.
Isbell collaborated closely with Fender during the build. The bridge is cut to make it a little more comfortable for palm-muting than a traditional ashtray-style Tele bridge. He worked with pickup guru Tim Shaw when spec'ing up his Tele, requesting a hotter version of the Twisted Tele neck pickup, and a replica of the bridge pickup from his 1965 L-series Tele.
Speaking to MusicRadar last month, Isbell professed his love of all things Telecaster, and walked through the build of his new signature model, explaining how Fender used the neck profile of his '65 model as reference, and how he likes to set up the pickups on a dual-pickup vintage guitar.
“I’ll set the neck pickup first,“ he explained. “I’ll set the pedals and amp and EQs to that. Once I’ve got the sweet spot, I’ll go to the bridge and roll the tone knob down until they match up sonically.
“Teles and Les Pauls have that in common, where if you get bright enough on the neck, it’s going to be too bright on the bridge. But I love treble, so too bright is a relative term!“
The Jason Isbell Custom Telecaster is priced £1249 / $1499 / €1439 and is out now.
See Fender for more details.