The light-blonde ash body features
a lacquer finish that’s so thin you can
easily see the wood grain texture under
bright light. This may also account for
why the guitar feels so uncommonly
alive and responsive. Before I even
plugged in the 60th I was impressed
with the sound: a snappy, clear, and ringing
acoustic tone with strong, mud-less
twang on the low notes.
The maple neck’s finish is also lacquer:
satin on the back and polished gloss on the
headstock and fretboard. The back of the
neck feels great and doesn’t get gummy
with sweat, but while the gloss ’board
looks cool, I found the shiny lacquer a bit
sticky when doing heavy string bending.
The comfortable neck profile is a slightly
chunky C-shape, thinner than a ’50s Tele’s,
but a touch meatier than a ’60s Strat’s.
Beautifully installed and highly polished,
the stellar frets, coupled with a medium
radius and rolled fretboard edges, make
for a very comfortable player’s guitar. The
60th Anniversary Tele arrived with a rulerflat neck and very low action (a" at the
21st fret), and played well without buzzing,
but I found such low action uncomfortable
for bending. After dialing in a little
relief with the included trussrod tool (no
need to remove the neck), the factory
setup otherwise proved outstanding—
especially the intonation
afforded by the Strat-style bentsteel
Plugged into a ’67 Super Reverb,
the 60th Anniversary sounded
clear and twangy, but with enough
girth and low-end punch to rock out
mightily. Teles are renowned for their versatility,
and the 60th gives off a sky’s-thelimit
vibe that inspired me to veer between
chicken-pickin’ country, swinging jazz, and
Keef-approved sus4 stabs.
The American Vintage Tele single-coils are
wired to a standard 3-way switch and Volume
control, but the Tone circuit is a No-Load type.
This means it’s completely removed from
the circuit when dialed full up, which coaxes
slightly more presence from the pickups. It’s
an interesting choice for a guitar known for
its brightness and snap, but I found the extra
sheen usable and not ice-picky, and you can
easily get a more “vintage” tone by rolling
back the Tone knob.
The modern-style tuners—staggered to
balance the tension at the nut—held tune
well, even after big bends and hard playing.
But I found old-school behind-the-nut
bends caused binding at the E/B string tree,
so a vintage “button” tree might be better
for true disciples of Gatton and Buchanan.
Given how popular the Telecaster remains
today, it’s easy to forget Leo Fender’s classic
design was born back when television was
cutting-edge technology. If you’re looking
for a great-sounding and great-playing guitar
that will probably still look cool on stage in
another 60 years, it’s hard to go wrong with
the 60th Anniversary Tele.
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