THE TELECASTER DATES BACK TO THE DAWN OF TIME—WELL, AT LEAST THE dawn of rock and roll—and has remained basically unchanged since its introduction. What we have here with the Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster is a very affordable guitar that nails many of the things people love about vintage Teles. Intended to be ’50s in spirit rather than an accurate replica of a ’50s Tele, the Classic Vibe features a pine body (which harks to Leo Fender’s first prototype model), a pale transparent finish with a singlelayer black pickguard, and a one-piece maple neck with a vintage tint and a comfy C shape. In the hardware department, we find a vintage-style plate bridge with three cylindrical brass saddles and a set of nickel-plated tuners with stamped metal backs. The bridge pickup has non-staggered polepieces and the neck pickup sports a classic-style chromed cover. The pickup selector wears a round black plastic tip, and the knurled knobs have the laterstyle flat tops.
It all adds up to an instrument with lots of visual appeal in a package that’s ideal for working players on a budget. The workmanship is quite good too. The neck joint is tight, the frets are properly dressed, and the finish is glass smooth. The Classic Vibe arrived with a good setup that made it fun to play right out of the box. There were no major intonation issues, and string buzz was negligible despite the low action. Plugged into our test amps, it delivered amazingly fat, twangy Tele bite from the bridge pickup, which, depending on the amount of distortion we’d dialed in on the amps, made it suitable for channeling anything from Roy Nichols to Rage Against the Machine. A downward twist of the Tone control was all that was needed to get buttery sounding high-gain sounds that worked great for rock and blues, and even a sweet, clear jazz tone was easily obtained by flicking to the neck pickup through a clean amp channel. The Classic Vibe’s pickups may be lower rent, but their alnico III magnets give them a surprising blend of warmth, clarity, and girth that can be an elusive combination on a Tele. Forget that this guitar only costs $349—if you’re looking for some Tele magic and then some, look no further than the Classic Vibe. This guitar rules, and it get an Editors’ Pick Award
MODEL Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster PRICE $349 street NECK One-piece maple bolt-on FRETBOARD Maple FRETS 21 standard SCALE 251/2" BODY Pine PICKUPS Custom Telecaster Alnico III CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector BRIDGE Vintage style plate bridge with brass saddles TUNERS Vintage style with stamped steel backs FACTORY STRINGS Fender nickelplated steel, .009-.042 WEIGHT 8.1 lbs KUDOS Cool ’50s Tele vibe. Excellent pickups. Plays and sounds great. CONCERNS None.
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