« Sometimes the first is best... »Published on 10/09/11 at 06:20
It features an ash body, a maple neck and fretboard with 21 frets, vintage style tuners, 3 saddle bridge with removable "ashtray" bridge cover, dual single coil pickups, single volume and tone controls, and a three way selector with the original switching setup of neck pickup, bridge pickup, and a specialized setting that is the neck pickup with all the tone rolled off (presumably for a very bassy jazz tone).
The Tele's design isn't the world's most ergonomic by any stretch, but it's definitely got its perks. The ash bodies on Fenders can vary from guitar to guitar in terms of weight but the '52 Teles I've tried tend to be on the lighter side of the spectrum. The Tele has good upper fret access too for being a single cutaway instrument. The one hindrance with this particular model over the American Standards and American Specials is the glossy neck finish, which tends to make faster playing a bit more of a difficult feat.
Getting a good tone out of this guitar is quite simple. Barring the rather odd and dated sounding "bassy roll off" tone, the neck pickup has a great classic vibe that works very well for jazz or blues. It has a very open and woody quality that is transparent enough to let the tone of the player really shine through. The bridge pickup can be a little bit bright, but hey, that's what a Tele was designed for - piercing country licks! If the tone's too bright, just roll it back using the tone control or treble control on the amplifier. Personally I like the bright nature of the bridge pickup for country or even rock textures, but it might not be for everyone.
I've tried this guitar through various American and British voiced amplifier rigs. It's definitely more suited to the Fender and Dr Z amps that have that classic Yank bite to them. Clean tones sing with top end brilliance and shimmer that is excellent for all manners of country or R&B/funk music. It's definitely a rawer sounding guitar than the American Standards, and the nature it has through a good tube amp is definitely more along the old school spectrum of tone. The drive tones have a LOT of bite and definition which is great... the guitar does the classic Led Zeppelin type hard rock tones with ease too. It's definitely a more versatile ax than it might let on, so feel free to try any style you want on this guitar - it's very likely to respond well.
All in all I think the Fender '52 Reissue Tele is a great example of the electric that started everything off. It's fairly close to the original model, plays well and has a wealth of sounds available. At about $1,600 new it's a fairly good value for money I would say. The vintage features such as the saddles or radius might be a turn off to players who are more accustomed to modern features but if you're a vintage tone hound and want a great reissue of the classic "blackguard," look no further!