Fender is a guitar manufacturer always excited by the prospect of entering new ground, lead by a team intently focused on what will come next. Hence the decision late last year to discontinue their American Standard Series line of guitars, and to replace it with the freshly inspired American Professional Series. Rather than resting on their laurels, with this shift in production Fender have provided us with a newly evolved Tele and Strat, along with the addition of three new models – one which is the American Professional Telecaster Deluxe Shawbucker. This guitar here is an ode to The Deluxe of the ‘70s – when Fender made their first foray into the world of humbucker pickups – and is a reinvigorated upgrade of the Classic Series ’72 Telecaster Deluxe that the company released in 2004. Like the entire American Professional Series, this Tele Deluxe comes with new pickups, a new neck shape and a treble-bleed tone circuit – and as such, a whole lot of intrigue.
ROAD WORTHY, ROCK READY
The immediate impression of the Tele Deluxe is that it’s a compact, inherently well-made guitar that’s tour ready. The three-colour sunburst and three-ply black pickguard on the alder body impart a real rock sensibility. Aesthetically it looks beefed up, while on the contrary it’s quite light and streamlined. The maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and white dot inlays are a most welcomed classic combination. The satin urethane finish on the back of the neck results in a stark, natural looking surface that brings to the fore a touch of class – in fact, class is a good way to describe the entire make.
A significant change from a construction point of view is the implementation of a ‘Deep C’ neck shape, and a narrow tall fret size, as opposed to Fender’s previously customary ‘Modern C’ neck shape and medium jumbo fret size. As a result the neck on this Tele Deluxe ShawBucker fills up the hand a little more than previous models, while the taller frets allow you to move up and down the fretboard a little more easily, and make bending slightly easier with the extra height. Overall these two changes provide smooth playability.
BUCKING THE TREND
As its name suggests, the Deluxe Tele HH ShawBucker employs two ShawBucker humbucking pickups. It’s the addition of these new pickups that truly brings new life to this reinvigorated guitar model. With the use of these newly designed humbuckers that classic Tele bite and twang is underpinned by a greater breadth of sonic frequencies – most specifically, a greater low-end presence. These are vintage-voiced humbuckers characterised by warmth and a richer tonal palette.
On the bridge pickup there’s the brightness and liveliness you would expect with a Tele, yet for better or worse it’s a slight shift away from the all out bite and twang we have come to expect from a Tele. When rolling back the Tone knob from 10 to around seven, this guitar can deliver a punch-y high end with a rounder mid and low-end presence. With the inclusion of individual Tone and Volume knobs dedicated to each humbucker, it’s able to summon a plethora of sounds. Importantly though, this deeper tone hasn’t sacrificed that seductive tele heat – all that is needed is some OD, and the bridge pickup can nail anything from crunch and growl, to a fuzz-like burn.
On the neck pickup the greater girth and warmth is prominent, enabling the application of blues and jazz style playing. While cranked up gain and drive allow for a dynamic distortion and, if desired, some more menacing OD tones. With the treble-bleed circuit, which acts to retain high-end clarity when adjusting volume, there’s no thinning of high when playing on different volume settings.
A NEW POINT OF ATTACK
The new Tele Deluxe is equipped with a powerful new tone, that’s both dynamic and versatile. It’s an important addition to the Fender family that will be embraced by guitarists looking for a greater tonal breadth to go along with all of the classic Tele sound.
Hits and Misses
Redesigned ShawBuckers offer a new perspective on the Tele sound
New neck shape and fret size offer improved playability
It’s a classy looking guitar
Shift in tone may not appeal to Tele purists