03 July, 2011

Guitar Series: 2000 American Series Fender Telecaster

Shortly after I joined the band, it became evident that I was going to be playing almost exclusively Telecasters. That's the way they wanted it, and I was inclined to go along with that wish. The only Telecaster I owned, at that time, was my 1978 (which you can see in another post in this blog). I had some qualms about gigging with that guitar, and even more qualms about touring with it, because its value is substantial (last time I had it appraised, it was about $3500). So I needed a Telecaster that I didn't mind bringing with me everywhere.

During one of my routine "see if there's anything cool today" trips to Trading Musician, I saw this guitar, shown below. Immediately, I was in awe, because it was just about the coolest guitar I had ever seen.

The color was something I'd never seen before, and the finish had an amazing antique-like appearance to it. Immediately, I knew that I had to have this guitar. It would be "the guitar". I played it with the anxiety one plays an instrument when they're looking for validation of a choice, as opposed to objectivity. The guitar *needed* to sound good, because of how it looked. And if it didn't sound good, or play correctly, it would then be a question of how much work would be required to make it right.

Here's the kicker. The price was $350. And it's an American-made (Corona series, I later discovered) instrument. It could easily have gone for much more money, but the store considered it to be devalued because of the odd paint job.

And, as if the finish on the front were not weird enough, if you look at the back of the guitar, it's got strange "artwork" embedded into the finish. It appears that it was the work of a child, actually.

I was able to determine, through searching the web, and subsequent emails, that this guitar belonged to someone in a band named Branta. Hence the "Branta <3 Sea Horses". It was kind of cool to know where it originated.

As soon as the members of the band saw and heard this guitar, it became "The Gold Standard" for Telecasters, as far as they were concerned. In fact, I was pretty much forbidden, under penalty of extensive harassment, from using any other instrument. In fact, our lead guitarist gave this guitar a nickname, "Greengo", a play on the word "Gringo", which ended up sticking. If I ever played a different guitar, the guys would say "Where's Greengo? Why aren't you playing Greengo?!"

On numerous occasions, I was approached after shows, by people from other bands or audience members, who asked me to tell them the details about this guitar. Many inquired as to the vintage, expecting to hear that it was something really old, especially supported by the apparent aged look of the instrument. Of course, all were surprised to know that it is, technically speaking, "nothing special".

Why does it sound so good?

Well, something about the pickups seems to result in a bit more clarity of individual notes than you typically hear with Telecasters. I've played many, and own three now and, when you push the drive levels with pedals or gain, Telecasters tend to get a blending of the notes of a chord. This one does the same, but not nearly as quickly. You can get a pretty biting, hot tone, and still have the distinctiveness. I've played other Corona-made Telecasters from similar vintage, and they are quite similar. So it's something about the model. I contemplated trying to acquire an identical one as a backup, but never did. Lately, it makes less sense, since I'm not performing.

I've done a little bit of work on the guitar, but mostly in the form of advanced setup. I wanted to change the string gauge to 11-52, and in order to do that, I ended up needing to make multiple adjustments; not just the usual truss rod and string height, but also needed to get into neck angle, which was a whole new bag for me. Reading instructions on the internet, I was able to do it without getting into any trouble.

The custom strap shown in the first picture is from Levy's Leathers. They make the coolest straps of anyone, and they have a wide variety.

I've had a few lucky finds, and good purchases through the years. But this one stands out as the biggest bang for any buck I've ever spent on music gear.

1 comment:

  1. That's a beautiful machine, I was playing my telecaster(first guitar) while reading this- and it was really cool.