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Vintage guitar of the week #20 - 1987 Fender Contemporary Telecaster HH

This guitar comes from Japan, of course.

The 1987 Fender Contemporary Telecaster HH is a bargain vintage.

While this guitar seems tame today, it was considered "wild" for a Fender-branded electric. This was the '80s, a time when rock music was king and players were demanding guitars that had high-output pickups, could do crazy pitch bending and so on. The Contemporary series was Fender's attempt to capitalize on that.

The Big Question however is this: Is the guitar any good?

Yes, it's good. Very good, in fact. The only thing you have to remember about a Tele like this is that it was built to "sound modern," so don't expect 1950's Telecaster spank out of it. What you can expect is hot-output goodness along with a vibrato system that allows easy deep pitch bending.

Is the vibrato system a Floyd-Rose? No. It's a Fender-branded system. How reliable is it? I've no idea.

Is there a new version of this old guitar?

Yes and no.

There's this:

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus
Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus

...a China-built (and very well built, I might add) Tele that I would actually prefer over the '87 Contemporary HH. True, there's no vibrato system on it, but it's a guitar I could personally get along with much easier.

Squier John 5 Telecaster
Squier John 5 Telecaster

There is a Fender version of this, but unless you want to spend thousands, the Squier version is a lot more approachable.

This Tele is a fast-necked, 12-inch radius fretboard, hot-output screamer. This is absolutely the "most rock/metal" Tele that Squier makes right now. Not my style of guitar, but when you want a Tele that brings the metal thunder, this is it.

Does Fender make a Telecaster with a Floyd-style vibrato on it currently?

No, and that alone could be a reason to just buy the vintage '87 instead if that's what you want and you want it Fender-branded.

In the end, don't buy the '87 Tele Contemporary HH because it's a collectible. Buy it because it's a genuinely good Tele with a Floyd-style vibrato on it for a really nice price.

If you can do without the Floyd-style system, I'd say get the new Modern Player Tele Plus shown above instead. Or if you want a total "barn burner" Tele, the John 5 model certainly fits the bill there.

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