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View Full Version : When Guitarists Get Deep & Philosophical: Theseus's Telecaster


WordMan
10-06-2017, 07:45 AM
Okay - some quick background:

- Telecaster: if I have to explain what a Fender Telecaster is, what are you doing in this thread?? ;) One thing to point out, is that Tele's have a pickup and control layout that is an essential part of its design, from the unique bridge pickup based on a lap steel pickup, to the 1 Volume, 1 Tone + pickup selector, to the famous 3-Barrel bridge (each saddle supports two strings - can make intonation a hassle, but many Tele fanfolk think it is essential like me!)

- Jazzmaster: later Fender design. Most important for this story, Jazzmasters have what is called "Fender's Offset Waist Design" - the narrow part of the guitar is at the same spot on either side of a Tele or a Strat. On JM's it is not as symmetrical. Y'all know this one. If you look at a JM's on-board controls, there are WAY too many!! just a bunch of switches that turn pickups on or off, or change the tone circuit. Silliness to a simpleton like me.

- Telemasters: In this age of Parts-o-Casters (replacing parts on a guitar or building one outright from parts), it is no surprise that folks mix and match design features. One of the ones that caught fire is the Telemaster - Offset Waist Jazzmaster body, with a simple Tele pickup/control layout. So cool! And the relic'd ones look like the actually got built back in the day.

So, Fender has slowly been trying to get out in front of the Telemaster trend. They just released a new guitar called "an offset waist Telecaster."

OMFG, clutch your pearls my friends!!!!

In this thread on the Gear Page: https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/but-is-it-really-a-telecaster.1872014/ we have guitarists of all stripe arguing the fundamentally ontological topic of being and identity. Fun times!!

So - whaddya think? Personally, I am assuming that, rather than Fender trying to win the Ontology Wars, they simply couldn't copyright the phrase "Telemaster" for some reason, so went in a different direction. It's Telemaster to me.

Dinsdale
10-06-2017, 07:50 AM
But whaddabout the Esquire? ;)

Always appreciated the Teles, but what do I know? I'm but a humble bassist (upright no less!)

Snowboarder Bo
10-06-2017, 07:50 AM
The Telecaster is prolly my least favorite guitar, so this news means nothing to me. I'm glad for the info, because I like to keep abreast of things, but that's all this is to me: info.

The Jazzmaster, however, was a nice guitar. I have a guitar that was given to me long ago by friends in Tallahassee that is comprised of a Jazzmaster neck and a Jaguar body; it's one of my punk rock guitars.

WordMan
10-06-2017, 07:54 AM
But whaddabout the Esquire? ;)

Always appreciated the Teles, but what do I know? I'm but a humble bassist (upright no less!)

What about the Esquire? They are LOVED by their fans. Simply a Tele with no neck pickup. The thing with them is that fanboys are convinced that the absence of the neck pickup changes the magnetic pull of the strings so that Esq'y's sound different from Tele's. Oh, man, the snake oil I would have to digest for that to sound plausible. But that doesn't impact this Tele/Jazzmaster anecdote.


Snowboarder Bo - and here I thought we were friends. Why do you hate America? Dead to me, I tell you. ;) What don't you like about Teles?

Snowboarder Bo
10-06-2017, 08:06 AM
Snowboarder Bo - and here I thought we were friends. Why do you hate America? Dead to me, I tell you. ;) What don't you like about Teles?:p

The neck, mostly. It's slow and sluggish and too thin. Feels like someone gummed up the fretboard to me. FWIW, I feel the same about most Strats.

There's other aspects of the Tele that I find less than optimal, but the neck and fretboard are the thing(s) I dislike most.

My first guitar (I still have it) was a '72 Les Paul Custom (cherry sunburst with gold hardware, just like Frank Zappa's) and the neck on that is stout and beautiful, the fretboard smooth like glass. It unfortunately set a high bar for me early on and so I've always selected guitars based mostly on how much I like the feel of the fretboard; every other detail is negotiable.

WordMan
10-06-2017, 08:19 AM
:p

The neck, mostly. It's slow and sluggish and too thin. Feels like someone gummed up the fretboard to me. FWIW, I feel the same about most Strats.

So it's not about the shape, the layout or the basic Tele tone? It's the neck? But you know I have huge necks on my Tele's - one's a Tele Fat neck from Allparts (Fender Japan parts sold in the US). It is 1" deep at the nut = chunky as hell.

Now, a 70's LP Custom does have a different feel, no question.

DCnDC
10-06-2017, 08:25 AM
If you look at a JM's on-board controls, there are WAY too many!! just a bunch of switches that turn pickups on or off, or change the tone circuit. Silliness to a simpleton like me.

I though the Jaguar was the one with all the switches.

Snowboarder Bo
10-06-2017, 08:34 AM
So it's not about the shape, the layout or the basic Tele tone? It's the neck? But you know I have huge necks on my Tele's - one's a Tele Fat neck from Allparts (Fender Japan parts sold in the US). It is 1" deep at the nut = chunky as hell.

Now, a 70's LP Custom does have a different feel, no question.
No, the tone is part of it, too: I find the thin, uh reedy tone of a Tele less attractive than other guitars. But I know that tone can be changed easily with effects and amps and EQ and new pickups, etc. so it's not the main part. The guitar just doesn't feel good in my hands.

The shape is fine. Boring but fine. The layout is fine, too; I have guitars with much different layouts than the standard 1-toggle 2-knobs setup and it never bothers me (or is anything I even think about, to be honest).

Keep in mind that subtlety isn't really what I'm going for, eh.

WordMan
10-06-2017, 09:56 AM
I though the Jaguar was the one with all the switches.

They both do. The JM has a standard Fender long scale (25.5") and its JM-specific whammy bar (the one that Kevin Shields puts to such brilliant use in creating the wobbly, super distorted sounds of My Bloody Valentine), the Jag has a stop tailpiece and a short scale 24" fingerboard. But both have messes of switches.

Bo: yep, whatever keeps you playing. Funny that a Les Paul and Tele are the ballsiest sounding of the Big Four: 335's are semi-hollow and Strats have the floating bridge. LP's and Teles are the ones that deliver the big low end. Again, the thing I love about a Tele is rolling off the Tone Control to get as thick of a sound as on a humbucker - different, but thick.

DCnDC
10-06-2017, 10:12 AM
And then there's the Kurt Cobain-designed Jag-Stang, which, unsurprisingly, looks like it was designed by someone on heroin.

WordMan
10-06-2017, 10:20 AM
And then there's the Kurt Cobain-designed Jag-Stang, which, unsurprisingly, looks like it was designed by someone on heroin.

No argument from me - fuses together two shapes into a single ugly shape.

Enter the Flagon
10-06-2017, 10:27 AM
My new Telecaster is a fantastic guitar. Its 8 1/2 lb. redwood body is livelier, with more sustain, than any Les Paul I've owned - including an 11 plus lbs. Black Beauty. And the tones, OMG, beautiful. But it's still a Telecaster - which for me, means having to sacrifice some comfort to play it, whether sitting or standing.

Not so long ago, Fender competitor Ibanez re-introduced the Talman series of guitars, including a model which directly copies the Telecaster layout, but with a much more ergonomic body shape - the best of both worlds, I thought. So it doesn't surprise me that Fender has finally seen the light.

Still, I'm glad they gave this new guitar a new name. If it isn't shaped like a Tele, it shouldn't carry the Tele moniker, sez me.

I hope this new model sells well enough that they don't drop it.

Enter the Flagon
10-06-2017, 10:37 AM
Still, I'm glad they gave this new guitar a new name. If it isn't shaped like a Tele, it shouldn't carry the Tele moniker, sez me.



Clarification: they could've called it the Telecaster Offset, which would've been worse than Offset Telecaster.

But yeah, Telemaster would've been better still.

swampspruce
10-06-2017, 12:21 PM
I'm still partial to Jazzcaster. I'm mulling building one with a SD 'Lil 59 and a P-90 with a blend pot. I played a Fender "Pawn shop" special in that config and the tones I could pull out was pretty amazing. Personally, I like the design and it's pretty comfortable to play. I'm not a traditionalist by any stretch.

aceplace57
10-06-2017, 03:57 PM
Tele's have that essential Country twang that defined the music in the late sixties forward. Keith Urban plays a Telecaster.

It's a bit ironic because country originally used Acoustic instruments. The Opry didn't allow electric instruments until the mid 70's

Pork Rind
10-06-2017, 04:06 PM
Again, the thing I love about a Tele is rolling off the Tone Control to get as thick of a sound as on a humbucker - different, but thick.

And that's what I love about my ASAT Bluesboy (http://www.glguitars.com/instruments/usa/guitars/asat-classic-bluesboy/index.asp). It takes that thinking and brings it to its ultimate conclusion; adding the humbucker to the neck position.

But all that misses the real question. What kind of amp did Theseus prefer? And did he replace the tubes, the speaker and rewire the tone stack?

WordMan
10-07-2017, 08:14 AM
I love a good Bluesboy. I circled one for a while with a deep V neck profile.

As for Theseus's amp, yeah, owners of old amps have to be okay with swapping out caps and flubby speakers.

Plumpudding
10-07-2017, 08:27 AM
I like tele's, though I've never had one. "Telemaster" does nothing for me though.

I prefer slim, sexy, semi-acoustics anyway... Give me a Rayhorn O-Seven and I'm in heaven.

squeegee
10-07-2017, 11:04 PM
They just released a new guitar called "an offset waist Telecaster."Wait, what? This has been out for quite some time. A year? Not sure.

Anyway, I approve of the trend, very cool mashup. I don't think I want one, I'd be afraid of losing tone with such a small body, and the design doesn't tweak my WANT reflex really. I just think it's cool Fender is finally piling on and hope it continues.

Also no need to invoke Theseus: it's not a telecaster. It's cool on it's own, but Theseus would tell you it's just not the same boat.

squeegee
10-07-2017, 11:39 PM
I always thought a TeleSG would be a cool instrument too.
http://rebel-guitars.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/RSGuitarworksSTeeBlackguard.jpg

WordMan
10-08-2017, 04:52 AM
Wait, what? This has been out for quite some time. A year? Not sure.

Anyway, I approve of the trend, very cool mashup. I don't think I want one, I'd be afraid of losing tone with such a small body, and the design doesn't tweak my WANT reflex really. I just think it's cool Fender is finally piling on and hope it continues.

Also no need to invoke Theseus: it's not a telecaster. It's cool on it's own, but Theseus would tell you it's just not the same boat.

Yes, Fender has been doing OWTeles for a bit, but the thread on the AGF was what led me to think of the topic as Doper bait.

SG Tele - very cool! I'm on an iPad and can't be arsed to track down photos, sorry, but there's a ton of Tele variants. Either where you keep the Tele shape but update the components, like a Tele-bird (Tele with Firebird construction) or a Tele Special, or La Cabonita, a line from Fender which is essentially a Tele- shaped Gretsch. Or you have the simplicity of a Tele layout grafted into different shapes, like that SG (yeah, love it) or a Rickenbacker (tempted), etc...

The Telecaster is so atomic and universal and sturdy and built for easy manufacture and swap out that it's its own cottage industry.

WordMan
10-08-2017, 05:18 AM
Also no need to invoke Theseus: it's not a telecaster. It's cool on it's own, but Theseus would tell you it's just not the same boat.

Oh, and back to the OP - yeah, I agree. Interesting how this does raise what are fundamentally ontological questions. If you cleave a thing, which pieces carry the identity? Kinda like Mendelian genetics - is the Tele gene dominant or recessive? To me, the shape is the first factor. A Tele with humbuckers is a Tele; a JM with a Tele layout is a better, simpler Jazzmaster ;) (I don't use whammy's and can't be bothered with fancy controls). QED ;)

Plumpudding
10-08-2017, 07:31 AM
I always thought a TeleSG would be a cool instrument too.
http://rebel-guitars.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/RSGuitarworksSTeeBlackguard.jpg
This could be so cool, if it had only one horn, you know, like a tele.

Shakester
10-08-2017, 10:16 AM
Personally, I am assuming that, rather than Fender trying to win the Ontology Wars, they simply couldn't copyright the phrase "Telemaster" for some reason, so went in a different direction. It's Telemaster to me.

Fender didn't copyright the name Telemaster because you can't copyright names.

What you can do is trademark a name. The rules of trademarks are a bit different to copyright, and quite interesting, but not all that relevant to this thread.

My assumption is that Fender couldn't trademark the name Telemaster because it is either (a) already trademarked by someone else, or (b) already accepted as a generic term for a particular style of guitar.

WordMan
10-08-2017, 10:53 AM
I was using "copyright" informally to mean "protect." IANALawyer, etc.

Small Clanger
10-10-2017, 02:32 PM
How much can you change and it still be a Telecaster?
My take, change one thing OK (maybe), change two - sorry, it's not a Tele' any more...
Lead pickup -> humbucker (argh!) worked for Jeff Beck, get a pass.
Neck pickup (change that, who cares, who uses the neck pickup on a Tele?)
Lead pickup -> humbucker + whammy bar(!) you are starting from the wrong place get a superstrat you twat (assuming people still use superstrats?)
Bound fingerboards, fancy inlays, third pickup* Stratish comfort moulding (for wusses), glued in necks... nope.

B-benders - that's accepable, invisible and weird.

* See you, Francis Rossi, what were you thinking?

WordMan
10-10-2017, 04:21 PM
Jeff Beck's guitar was nicknamed the Telegib. He didn't think of it as a Tele, its was its own beast. Made by Seymour Duncan he brought it to Beck who loved it and offered him a guitar in exchange. Seymour, in a flash of brilliance, asked for Jeff's 50's Esquire - Tele with no neck pickup. It had the Strat like contour put on it by the previous own, Scott Walker of the Walker Bros. Beck used it to sound like a sitar on Heart Full of Soul and for the rave up at the end of I'm a Man. Historic guitar. I met Seymour a few times but didn't think to ask to see it. Argh!

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