The Fender Telecaster is the first solid body electric guitar ever built , introduced by Leo Fender in 1950 , I had already talked about it in this article. The Telecaster was produced in many models, with different woods, pickups and various circuitry. However, perhaps the most famous is the replica of the first model, the American Vintage Telecaster ’52 Reissue : body in ash, fingerboard in maple, butterscotch yellow color, neck with “U” section, grommets on the headstock in the shape of a button and bridge with the three brass saddles screwed onto the bridge.
The used ’52 reissue is around 1200 euros, but there is a cheaper version, the Fender Telecaster Baja, Mexican replica (but designed by the Fender Custom Shop!), which incorporates all its characteristics, but also adding a special circuit with a 4-position selector (in the 4th position we have the two pickups in series as a humbucker) and switch S1 to invert the phase in positions 2 and 4 of the selector. All with American Custom Shop pickups and high quality woods. Wow…
Mine is from 2011, but generally the build quality has been constant over time. Level? Tall. There have been several Fender experts, owners of various Custom Shops, who have said that the Telecaster Baja is in fact a guitar with custom shop woods and pickups, at a Mexican price. Quality such as to make it a guitar worth around 2,000 euros, but in fact on sale for around 800/900 euros.
In fact the woods are spectacular, nothing to envy to a 52 ‘. The only differences with the more expensive models are perhaps the non-brass saddles and non-bone nut. But replace the former with self-compensating brass ones and the latter with a bone one … Chapeau, wonderful.
The neck is the last difference, not so much in terms of the material, but in the shape of the neck, which is a soft “V”, in fact more chubby than that of the 52 ‘. If like me you have big hands , you’ll be fine.
The pickups are the Custom Shop “Twisted” Tele Single-Coil (neck) and Custom Shop Broadcaster Single-Coil (bridge) w gorgeous.
The electronics are particular, with a 4-position selector, where the first 3 are the classic ones, while the 4 provides both pickups in series as if to simulate a humbucker, very Brian May style with his Red Special, and ditto the volume potentiometer is a Fender S1 push push switch that inverts the phase of the two pickups in positions 1 (series) and 3 (parallel), also in Brian May style.
Compared in an A / B test with a 52 ‘, owned by my guitar teacher, it was amazing to hear how …. they sound practically identical !!!
The Fender Telecaster Baja is a true Tele in all respects, with a surprising attack and punch, a delicacy given both by its materials (with the guitar off it’s exciting how the sound is twangy, delicate but direct at the same time ) than the pickups, which actually amplify the characteristics of the guitar when it is turned off.
In the classic positions, 1, 2 and 3, the sound is what one would expect from a Custom Shop level Telecaster. Gorgeous, raw and intoxicating. The neck pickup is delicate and twangy like few others, while the bridge pickup … well, you can rock it all you want, period.
With series pickups the sound gets thicker and darker, great in my opinion for creamier leads, but it never becomes a true humbucker. To play rhythms it is not at the level of a real humbucker, and in any case having the pickup of a Tele at the bridge, it is certainly not necessary!
Phase inversion works, but it’s not one of my favorite sounds, it drains the tones too much for my personal taste. But it works, and it works well too. I just don’t know when I would use it. Of course it’s better to have it than not to have it, you never know.
Just a gem to close: about the Marshall + Telecaster combination shoot yourself this video, even if it is in German it gives a very good idea:
Personally, I’m very happy with it. The Fender Telecaster Baja is clearly a top notch guitar, with an incredible sound that has nothing to envy to the 52 ‘reissue.
Defects? Well, I don’t like vintage mechanics, as well as the position of the truss rod adjustment, which actually forces you to use a specific tool (here I found the perfect screwdriver for the purpose https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-tools-and-supplies/types-of-tools/wrenches/truss-rod-crank-for-tele/). In addition, the polyester body paint actually gives the idea of not being vintage and very plastic.
But the flaws end there, the Fender Telecaster Baja isn’t a great guitar for its price range, it’s just great!
Highly recommended, one of the best purchases (I used it a few years ago) I’ve ever made, I could never get rid of it.
Published on musicanza.it on: 11/06/2021.