Guitar of the week #71 - Fender Deluxe Tele Thinline
Fender makes a good amount of guitars with one-piece maple necks, but some are better than others. This is one of the better ones. In fact, I think it's one of the best electrics they've made in 2016.
The Fender Deluxe Tele Thinline has several things going for it that are just plain cool.
First, the fretboard has a 12" radius. That makes for easier soloing.
Second, the pickups are Vintage Noiseless. I've more to say about that in a moment.
Third, it has a 4-way switch instead of just a 3-way.
Fourth, the saddles are the better block style and not those dopey (and cheap) bent steel things.
Fifth, it has short-post locking tuners.
This is a Swiss Army Knife Tele of sorts. Darned good one, too.
Oh, and just to satisfy curiosity, the fourth pickup selection is the back + front pickup in series wiring rather than parallel. What that means is that on that particular position, you get more output and more midrange tone. I don't know how particularly useful that is, but it's nice that Fender included it.
Do the Fender Noiseless pickups in this Tele suck?
There's more than a few players who don't like the Noiseless pickups from Fender, but this one might appease the naysayers. Maybe.
Currently, there are two types of Fender Noiseless pickups available for the Telecaster. Fender N3 Noiseless and Fender Vintage Noiseless. The pickup set in the Deluxe Thinline is the Vintage Noiseless.
There are several differences between the two sets, but the most noticeable is that the N3 uses Alnico 5 magnets and the Vintage uses Alnico 2.
Explained in the simplest way, the N3 has modern "punch" while the Vintage is more "clear."
The big question however is this: Is the Vintage Noiseless set appropriate for the Thinline?
Yes, it is.
The output of the Vintage Noiseless isn't as in-your-face as the N3; it is a good choice for the Thinline, especially with the 4-way selector where overly loud pickups would ruin the series wiring selection.
If the Noiseless N3 set was in the Thinline, the tone would suck. It would be too "hot," tough to control, and, ironically, a noisy mess. Not the 60-cycle hum kind of noisy mess, but you'd hear way too much string drag, pick noise, body clunking and pretty much every other unwanted noise you can think of. The tamer Vintage set is a much better choice because you get the clarity without extraneous noise nor hum noise, and that's the entire point of having a noiseless pickup set to begin with.
So to answer the question, the Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups in the Thinline do not suck. They genuinely sound good, and with the modern bridge give a nice blend of vintage tone + modern appointments.
To really put a fine point on it, does the Vintage Noiseless "sound like a Telecaster?" Yes. No, you won't get "perfect '52" tone out of it. But what Tele would other than a real-deal '52?
I only have one, and it is unabashedly a personal preference on my part.
I don't like Strats or Teles with 22-fret necks on them.
Being the Deluxe Tele Thinline has modern appointments, yes it makes total sense that the guitar has a 22-fret neck as that is a totally modern thing...
...but I don't like it. I would much prefer to see a 21-fret neck.
There is, however, something that makes having that 22-fret neck worth it. Another modern feature:
Heel cutaway. That cutaway makes it super-easy to reach for and bend high notes on the high-fret end of the neck.
The more you look into this guitar, the more you realize it truly does earn its "Deluxe" name in the model title.
I still don't like 22-fret guitars, mind you, but I'm certain this one is a joy to play. And from what I've heard, it also sounds right.
This is a genuinely good player's Telecaster. It's not meant to be a collectible. And by that I mean that this guitar was not built to be a case queen. Rather, this is one you play the hell out of.