I openly admit it - I'm jealous of Jon's new Acousticaster. But alas, I'm on a different track. The Gretsch will come one day, but I'm really liking the idea of a Telecaster. I only have a Korean made clone that is not so good.
Here's the question - I've played most every brand out there. Suhr would be nice, but they are so pricey and I don't know what you get for your money over Fender. Does anyone play a G&L ASAT classic? It really looks nice. It has the potential for being a "better Telecaster" from what I can tell.
But beyond that, does anyone have a King Bee or Nash or K*Line Telecaster? I've had my hands on the Nash and K*Line and they seem about like a good Fender, so I'm not sure if I wouldn't just go Fender.
Two things that have influenced me in the past:
#1 - Resale value. Fender is still the original and it has brand-name recognition. List a Fender on CL or Kijiji and someone will call you back that day. List something else and you have to spend time explaining why it's just as good or better than a Fender. American made Fenders keep their value very well.
#2 - Parts. Since the large number of Fender Teles out there, most after market parts are made to Fender Tele specs. If/When you want to 'hot-rod' you guitar, you have the most choice. The ASAT Classic is more like the Tele, but ASAT special has odd-sized pick-ups.
Even my Squiers are *different* enough to cause some headaches sometimes... Most of the the non-Fender Teles I own are home-brews that are build to 100% Fender Specs. Changing out pickups is a breeze. Finding a new neck is snap... For <$20 I can have a new look with a brand new pickguard. Parts can picked-up in-stock at the local music store....etc.
Resale is your friend - go look for a great used ASAT etc.
What is it you *want* from a Tele? If you knew that then it would make the search much easier.
Oh yess, I been doing that - there are some good ASATs out there. There are also so good Fenders, but they don't come down on their price very well.
I want the traditional broadcaster/twang sound. My biggest gripe with the 52 reissues and so many other telecasters is the neck. I prefer a more modern strat-like neck with the larger radious. Hence my interest in the custom jobbies. I just hate the idea of spending so much on a custom that is so in demand today but will become unknown in later years. I'm contemplating the idea of taking a traditional 52 body and marrying it to a more modern neck.
I suspect it depends how 'golden' your ears are, but I think a part of the tone comes from the big neck - that's certainly often the case with Les Pauls for example. You might find the guitar you want, but it could be tricky.
FWIW I was once a fan of the skinny neck, but these days I quite like a bit more meat. One can adapt and enjoy it.
I've got mighty-mites, warmoths, fenders and squier necks. Many people prefer the quality of an after-market neck. (You just don't always get the decals...) Basically anything I can pedal cheaply on Craigslist/Kijiji when I was really into that. However, I find ordering new can get pretty costly quick. *BUT* with that said, I don't think i'll ever prof. refret a guitar ever... since necks are so cheap now.
If you like the fast necks, sometimes you can get a used Mex neck from the 90's to early 2000's that are really very good. Quick, nice glossy feel.The only thing is my impression is that the frets wear out a little faster than the USA models.
You could always buy a MIA Tele and play it for a year and sell or the same price as you bought it. *Shrugs* It's like a free rental. (I find the MIM prices are moving all over the place recently.) A Hwy1 or USA Special can be had for a fraction of AM Std currently.
I was into the big fat necks for a while, now I've changed a bit. So my next project is probably a strat neck with big head-stock fixed on a Tele-Custom body. The rosewood will mellow it out a bit as I expect ot put in good pair of USA Gibby Burstbuckers. Or I'll harvest out some USA Biggy P-90s I have...The speed of a nice strat neck, but hard-tail bridge. Like an LP with a different scale neck (and bolt-on).
Interesting comment about necks. I think the neck is such an integral part of the guitar that to just change it when the frets are worn out would be like changing the guitar - and it would be a lottery as to whether you got a good instrument. This is one of the problems I have with custom-built guitars, because you never know whether the instrument itself will actually be good for you or not. There's more to an instrument than great construction and setup, having the right pickups and body woods, and some guitars just have something while a lot of others don't (for me, at any rate).
With my No.1 strat, it really needs a refret, but I'm very reluctant to do anything at all that might change it. If/when I DO go down the refret path then it will be with stainless, so it never needs doing again in my lifetime.
That's the biggest problem with guitars in general - it takes me about a year to make all the finer adjustments to an electric guitar before I truly consider it playable. The only exception was my Guild Starfire - great from the start. And I'm not alone in that - I saw a Joe Satriani movie where he talked about gear a lot and he said kind of the same thing.
Agree with the stainless - my Strat needs a re-fret too. Not all of them mind you, but can you have just a few stainless frets? It seems like something wouldn't sound right.
Also, mention that body woods make a difference you'll get some disagreement. I don't know empirically, I just know what woods I want with certain guitars because "it's correct". If it is part of the sound, then I've chosen the right wood up front.
Ditto for me! 6105 stainless frets did NOT work out as I'd hoped, especially for a Tele project - strange strident highs, even when amplified.