The Deluxe Nashville Telecaster offers classic Tele and Strat sounds and is named in recognition of Leo Fender's eldest electric guitar going on to dominate studio session scene in Music City, Tennessee.
There are some familiar items on the menu here. There's the alder body, the slim C profile bolt-on maple neck. While much of the Nashville Tele's features are just you'd expect to find when grappling with a Telecaster, there are some interesting upgrades, too.
In the bridge and middle positions you'll find Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele single coils, and in the middle position there is an extra bonus Strat model – also noiseless. These are connected in a circuit with a master volume and tone, and a five-way pickup selector blade switch with some tricks up its sleeve. But we'll get to that in a sec.
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Less obvious to the naked eye is the fact that Fender has pimped the Nashville Tele's playability with a flat-for-this-kinda-thing 305mm (12-inch) fingerboard radius. Remember, Leo Fender originally spec'd the Tele with a 184mm (7.25-inch) radius, which is a more curved 'board that works a treat for chords, yet it requires a medium to high action to bend the strings above the 12th fret without making them choke on the board..
What we are more used to on modern Telecasters is a 241mm (9.5-inch) radius, a happy medium that allows for buzz and choke-free bending. Now, let's follow the rule that says the bigger the radius, the flatter the 'board, and thus the lower the action and easier the string-bending. That's where the Nashville's whopping 12-inch radius comes in. That's the same as a Les Paul, meaning you can keep the action low but and there are no grumbles when you dig in at any point on the fretboard.
Before we fire up the amplifier, let's take a look at some of the other details. This Fiesta Red number has a pau ferro fingerboard on which you'll find 22 medium tall frets. There's a contoured neck heel so you can get up there see what we mean about easy string bends. The solid block bridge saddles enhance sustain while there is also a set of locking tuners to keep the tuning rock solid.
Now, should you prefer the snappier tone of a maple 'board, that's available, too, but the finish options are different.
Typically single-coil pickups can generate a lot of 60-cycle hum – unwanted noise. That doesn't ordinarily bother us, and it is not something that gets to you when jamming or up onstage. But in the studio it can be a nightmare. Happily, the Vintage Noiseless pickups are true to their name, cutting out the hum without sacrificing that classic single-coil attack.
You'll find a ten gallon hat's worth of Tele twang on that bridge pickup, but add some distortion and it roars – it's like Johnny Cash one minute, early Jimmy Page the next. The neck position, meanwhile, is warm, deep and reminiscent of a big hollow jazz guitar, and that middle Strat pickup works great for rhythm work – especially with some overdrive.
But it's in the two 'in-between' Jimi Hendrix/SRV tones that really get the juices flowing. Put down that Strat and come over here; this Tele will nail Little Wing with more bottom-end grunt than it could ever manage.
There's no mistaking what's on offer here. Don't be tempted to typecast the Nashville Tele as a your Grand Ole Opry guitar and that alone. It does more than country, and handles it superbly.
MusicRadar verdict: This is a Tele with Nashville in its name and in its tones, but it also translates to a kinds of styles and might just be the most versatile version of the Big F's workhorse super champ we've played.