The Fender Telecaster, also known as the “Tele,” is one of the most iconic electric guitars in the music industry. First introduced in 1950, the Telecaster was the first mass-produced electric guitar and the first to revolutionize the music and guitar industry. It’s also one of the few iconic electric guitars that has remained a staple in the industry. And while it has gone through modernizations and minor changes, the aesthetics and design of the Tele still remain unchanged.
The Player series is a more affordable line-up of guitars for people who want the Fender sound, playability, and quality at reduced pricing. Crafted in Mexico, the Player series offers excellent craftsmanship, build quality, and finish for many popular Fender models.
The Player Telecaster is a great choice for more-intermediate guitarists who want to take their guitar-playing to the next level. Its simple and classic design, exceptional playability, and outstanding sound make it an excellent choice for doing gigs and shows at almost half the price of the American-made models.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details of the Fender Player Telecaster, exploring everything from the design and build to the tone and versatility. We’ll also take a closer look at any of the problems or limitations it has. We’ll make this review as comprehensive as possible so you can make an informed decision.
So, let’s get started!
Design and Build Quality
Available in 8 colors (the newest color, Candy Apple Red, was just launched at the time of writing the review), the craftsmanship and finishing of the Player-series Telecaster are flawless. The classic color from the 50s – Butterscotch Blonde – is also available and looks absolutely gorgeous in the gloss polyester finish. You also have the option for a left-handed variant.
The Player Telecaster also retains the original’s signature aesthetics, including the oversized bridge that houses a pickup, the pickguard, and the rounded metal control plate. It also includes modern enhancements, including a more advanced 6-saddle bridge, an extra fret (total 22), a modern “C” neck profile, and more refined Alnico pickups.
The Fender Player Telecaster features the easily recognizable classic Telecaster body design made of alder wood. It features classic curves with the jack mounted on the lower bout, which gives the body a cleaner look. The nickel hardware, including the bridge, bridge plate, control plate, and knobs, look great and are high-quality.
You also get a bolt-on neck with a truss rod nut on the headstock side, making adjustments far easier. In contrast, you had to unbolt the neck to access the adjustment nut in the original model.
The neck is made of maple – like the original but has been revamped with modern features such as a “C” profile with a 9.5″ radius and satin finishing. It features a maple fingerboard also finished in satin nitrocellulose (common with maple fingerboards) and, along with a thinner neck profile, makes the neck on the Player Telecaster extremely playable and “fast.” You get 22 Medium Jumbo frets with a nut width of 1.65″ and a synthetic bone nut. You also have the option for a Pau Ferro fingerboard, but it’s only available in the Polar White and 3-Tone Sunburst colors.
Overall, the neck is a nice upgrade from the original while still retaining the look of the original. The black dot inlays on the satin-finished maple fingerboard provide great contrast, while the rolled fretboard edges make the neck even more ergonomic.
Finish & Detailing
The Telecaster’s body is finished in gorgeous gloss polyester, while the neck and fingerboard get a satin finish. It’s expertly crafted and finished, and there isn’t so much as a blemish on the guitar which is quite expected at this price range.
The materials used are all high-quality; you can see the attention to detail if you look closely. All the screws on the pickguard sit flush, and the pickups are very well installed. The fretboard edges on both sides are rolled to provide additional comfort while playing, and the fret ends are well-trimmed.
The Fender Player Telecaster is equipped with high-quality hardware for great playability, sound, and performance. The improved 6-saddle bridge allows action and intonation adjustments for each string, unlike the original, which only had 3 saddles. The string-through design of the original is kept, but the modernizations improve the overall sustain, individual-string articulation, and tuning stability, which is a welcome change.
The tuning machines are also similarly high-quality, with Fender opting for the sealed die-cast tuning machines and a string tree for the B- and E-strings. Another welcome addition is the headstock-side truss rod nut, unlike the original. This makes truss rod adjustments far easier.
Again, the control plate and the knobs are all high-quality metal. The nickel finish gives the Telecaster a classic look and enhances the overall aesthetics. There is no jack-plate on the front as the jack is mounted on the edge of the lower bout making the front look cleaner.
Pickups and Electronics
The upgrade Player-series Alnico V single-coil pickups give a balanced and well-rounded tone that’s versatile enough for a wide variety of music styles. They retain the classic tone of the Tele but are hotter and punchier but with less noise. You also have an HH variant of the Player Telecaster with two humbuckers.
On both variants, you get a 3-way pickup selector switch that lets you select either of the pickups in isolation and both together, along with Master Tone and Volume knobs. The HH version comes with a push-pull Tone knob for humbucker-to-coil-split.
Sound Quality and Playability
Unlike some people believe, the Telecaster is not a one-trick pony, as the pickups can deliver a wide range of varied tones. The original’s clarity and twang are there, but the sound is much more well-rounded. The bridge pickup has a great balance – neither too twangy nor too bottom-end heavy and sounds great for both clean and overdrive.
The neck pickup is a bit mellow and would be perfect for more articulated tones, such as fingerstyle, jazz, and country music. The middle position that employs both pickups is great for a thicker tone that’s perfect for overdriving.
Overall, the pickups offer a nice blend of bright highs, punchy mids, tight lows, and lots of trademark single-coil clarity and definition. The pickups sound so good they make cheap pedals sound much better than they would otherwise. Whether you play clean or distorted, jazzy articulate tones or distorted rock, the Player Telecaster will deliver an exceptional sound, unlike what most people are used to in the sub-$1000 price range.
As for playability, the Fender Player Telecaster is supremely playable. The modern “C” neck profile and the perfect nut-width make the neck very fast. At the same time, the satin finishing makes maneuvering easy and enjoyable. The fretwork finishing is great and small details like the rounded fretboard edges make fretting and string bending much easier. The balanced weight and body design also make it easy to play for long periods without straining.
Pros and Cons
The Fender Player Telecaster is a great choice for both beginner-intermediates who are considering getting a more pro-level/gig-ready guitar and for more advanced players. Even beginners who have a higher budget can go for it. Its classic looks, excellent playability, and exceptional sound make it a strong contender in the best sub-$1000 electric guitar category.
However, it isn’t without its (minor) flaws, subjective as they may be. Let’s look at all the pros and cons.
- Classic look
- Very high build quality and finish
- Lots of color variants available (including the iconic 50s original Butterscotch Blonde)
- Modern “C” neck profile
- Upgraded Alnico single-coil pickups
- Very good sound quality
- Exceptionally good playability
- Some players who prefer classic models and their chunkier U or D neck profile might prefer the thinner “Modern C” neck
- The Telecaster HH variant with dual humbuckers might offer a more versatile (albeit different) tone
Customer Reviews and Ratings
The Player Telecaster has 4.5 stars on Amazon and about 4.8 stars on Sweetwater. Both these ratings are quite high and reflect the quality of the instrument. Skimming through the reviews, most people praise the craftmanship and finish, along with the looks, playability, and sound. Most people are amazed at how well it plays and sounds and the tonal variety it offers.
Most of the criticism seems to be for damage caused in transit, which, frankly, can’t be avoided. Most sites offer a replacement in such cases, so it’s not a major issue. However, a few of the reviewers seem to have some issues with the finish and setup out-of-the-box.
Pricing and Value for Money
Fender has priced the Player Telecaster comfortably under the $ 1000 mark (at the time of writing), around 60% cheaper than the cheapest American-made Telecaster you can get. This makes it a great choice for someone looking to get a Tele without breaking the bank. Or just anyone looking for an all-around great-looking and sounding electric guitar.
If you’d rather have the warm, fuller tone of humbuckers, you can get the Telecaster HH variant that features dual-humbucking pickups for just a tiny bit more. There is also a “Plus” variant with a different fretboard radius, upgraded locking tuners, and better Plus Noiseless pickups with a push-pull Tone knob for a series mode for a thicker humbucker-like tone. But the Plus model is a little overpriced for the extra $250 it costs.
The Fender Player Telecaster is priced at the sweet spot considering the level of quality and craftsmanship you’re getting. The HH variant for those who aren’t a fan of single-coils but want the classic look and playability makes this guitar highly recommended for a wide variety of music styles.
|Maple, Modern C-profile
|Player Series Alnico V Tele Single-coil
|.009-.042 (Super Light)
Fender Player-series Telecaster
Great pro-level electric guitar at an affordable price
The Fender Player-series Telecaster is a great choice for guitar players of all levels. Whether you’re just starting out and want a sub-$1000 high-quality instrument or a more intermediate player who wants a beautiful-looking and sounding guitar that’s gig-ready, this guitar will suit you.
It looks stunning, is available in many colors, and has humbucking variants. It has great tonal versatility and is suitable for music genres ranging from country and blues to rock. The high-quality construction and flawless finish make this a great investment and a guitar that will last a long time — highly recommended!
Is the Fender Player Telecaster Good for Beginners?
It's a good choice for beginners as long as you are fine with the pricing. Telecaster is an iconic guitar with a long history and classic sought-after tone. The Player-series Tele is a modern version with a classic look and feel but with more capable hardware and better playability. It also suits a wide range of music styles, so with a little more investment upfront, you'll not have to worry about upgrading for quite some time.
However, being a very capable guitar, it's also very much suited for more advanced players. If you're looking for a stage-ready Fender Tele but want to avoid paying upwards of $1.5k, this guitar would be a good option.
Where Are Fender Telecaster Player Series Made?
It's made in Mexico.