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Fender Vintera '70s Telecaster Thinline Review

Although at a glance it looks like a Tele, this guitar is really its own thing, both sonically and visually.

(Image: © Fender)

Our Verdict

If you’re hunting for a unique sound that honors tradition without being a slave to it, this cool six-string might just do the trick

For

  • Hip, classic look. Excellent, throaty tones. Covers a wide range of styles

Against

  • Some minor fretting out

When I was a kid looking at my very first-ever Guitar Player magazine, the Fender ads captivated me. As much as I dug the venerable Strat, the Telecaster Deluxe just seemed so cool with its humbucking pickups. 

The Tele Thinline was even more alluring, because in addition to the awesome humbuckers, it had that f-hole, which was a link to the classical music and classic rock (which was current rock at the time) that I loved. So when this Vintera Thinline fell into my lap, I was thrilled to be able to revisit some of the magic of the Steve Miller issue from January 1978.

This guitar is a (mostly) period-correct tribute to its namesake. That means you get a semi-hollow ash body with a maple neck and, in the case of the review model, the creamy, sexy, blonde finish. 

The neck has Fender’s thin C profile, which is pretty skinny front to back, but despite my large mitts, I was able to get used to this neck with minimal fuss. The 7.25-inch radius made me a little nervous about big bends, but only monster bends got fret buzzy. 

Overall, the Vintera Thinline plays great. Mind you, all of this is without even plugging this fine guitar in, and that’s okay, because the semi-hollow construction gives the Thinline a kick-ass acoustic voice. No joke: You could stick a microphone on the f-hole and get a totally legit guitar track, with a punchy, honky, mid-heavy sound. This guitar is lively.

When I did plug in, I was reminded of why we love Seth Lover. He designed the Wide Range Humbuckers that you see here (and another pickup you may have heard of, the PAF), and the dude knew a thing or two about tone. 

These pickups have a clear, open sound, with a throaty midrange. Through a clean Kemper profile, the bridge tone had plenty of top end for pop and disco strumming but was still full enough to make single-note lines stand on their own. 

The middle position possesses great cluck for funk and blues, although I must admit I was jealous of the Tele Deluxe’s separate volume knob. It would be cool to explore the various gradations between the two humbuckers. 

The neck humbucker is a real beauty, easily covering jazz, blues and much more, with a clear tone that is warm but not dark.

I called up a dirty Plexi tone and loved how the Thinline rose to the challenge. I felt like I could convincingly cover a ton of rock styles on the bridge pickup, from jangly to heavy. 

The neck humbucker gives great shred, with awesome clarity at both high gain and high speed. The real X factor on the Thinline, not surprisingly, is its semi-hollow design, which lends a vocal, transparent and hollow (in a good way) envelope to each note.

It’s a chewy, expressive sound and vibe that reminds me of some of my favorite Brian May tones. It’s delicious and addictive and makes me really scratch my head as to why you don’t see more of these guitars around.

I’ve never owned a Thinline or any semi-hollow, but I’ve played a bunch. This Vintera makes me want to take the plunge and add one to my collection more than any I’ve tried. 

Although at a glance it looks like a Tele, it really is its own thing, both sonically and visually. If you’re hunting for a unique sound that honors tradition without being a slave to it, this cool six-string might just do the trick.

Specifications

CONTACT fender.com
PRICE $1,049

NUT WIDTH 1.65"
NECK Maple
FRETBOARD Maple, 25.5" scale with Thin “C” profile, 7.25" radius
FRETS 21 vintage
TUNERS Fender Vintage “F” Stamped
BODY Ash
BRIDGE 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Strat Strings-Through-Body Hardtail
PICKUPS Two Wide Range Humbuckers
CONTROLS Master volume, master tone
FACTORY STRINGS Fender USA 250L Nickel Plated Steel, .009–.042
WEIGHT 7.5 lbs.
BUILT Mexico