A round-up of the best Telecaster and Telecaster-style guitars on the market in 2022.
If you’ve listened to any popular music recorded in the past seventy years, odds are you’ve heard a Fender Telecaster.
With its distinctive twang, iconic silhouette, and effortless rock and roll cool, the Telecaster was the world’s first mass-produced, commercially successful, solid-bodied electric guitar. The instrument signified a revolution in technology, music, and culture that continues to this day.
The Telecaster’s distinctive tone can be heard on recordings from just about any genre, from classic country to modern metal. Guitarists as revered as Prince, Keith Richards, and even Slipknot’s Jim Root have all made careers from coaxing slinky, versatile tones out of their Telecasters.
What Is A Telecaster?
Characteristics of a typical Telecaster or Telecaster-Style Guitar include:
- Single-cutaway body
- Constructed in alder or ash
- Single-coil pickups
- A bolt-on maple neck
Of course, these days, the rules for guitars aren’t quite as strict as they used to be. On this list, you’ll find Tele’s breaking all sorts of rules, but still embodying that classic Telecaster look and feel.
Our carefully-compiled guide to the best Telecasters includes guitars for just about every tone and genre, whether it’s old-school country twang or punishing metal riffage.
The Best Telecaster & Telecaster-Style Guitars
Our favorite Telecasters on the market today are:
- Fender Player Telecaster
- Squier Affinity Telecaster
- Charvel Telecaster
- Fender Vintera Telecaster
- Fender Jim Root Telecaster
- EVH Wolfgang Standard
- Deluxe Nashville Telecaster
- Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster
- ESP LTE200MBLK
- Schecter 6 String PT Special
Let’s take a look at these in more detail…
1. Fender Player Telecaster
- "Modern C"-shaped neck profile
- Alder body with gloss finish
- Two Player Series single-coil Telecaster pickups
- Classic construction
- Classic Tele tone
- Genuine Fender Telecaster
Your first port of call when looking at a legendary guitar should be to go straight to the source. Here, we’re looking at a classic Telecaster aimed squarely at a working musician. If you’re in the market for a Telecaster, but don’t feel like parting with the eye-watering sums vintage instruments command, the Fender Player Telecaster might just be for you.
The Player Telecaster is built in Fender’s Mexican factory, which helps keep the price competitive. Fortunately, this factory is only a few miles from their American factory in California!
If you’re looking for that classic warm, snappy Telecaster single-coil tone, look no further than the Fender Player Telecaster. Its comfortable C-shaped neck and Fender single-coil pickups will do the job you want very nicely indeed.Fender Player Telecaster – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
2. Squier Affinity Telecaster
- Thin and lightweight body
- String-through-body bridge
- Slim and comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile
- Two Squier single-coil pickups
- Sealed die-cast tuning machines with split shafts
- Poplar body, maple neck with laurel fingerboard
- Cheaper alternative made in China
- Thin, lightweight body ideal for beginners and smaller-framed players
From Fender’s more affordable younger brother brand, Squier, we’ve got this nice offering. The Affinity Telecaster isn’t exactly an entry-level guitar – that honor belongs to the Bullet Tele at a hundred dollars cheaper – but it’s not a pro instrument.
However, if you’re just starting out, or only wanting to dip your toes in the water, this might be the Telecaster for you.
You could even, over time, upgrade this guitar’s pickups, hardware, and electronics to better resemble a high-end Tele.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for, and this is a fine instrument for its price range. Plenty of snap and twang from the single-coil pickups, but this guitar lacks the tuning reliability and depth of tone you’d expect from more expensive instrumentsSquier Affinity Telecaster – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
3. Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Tele
- Solidbody Electric Guitar with Alder Body
- 2 Humbucking Pickups - Robin's Egg Blue
- Caramelized Maple Neck Fingerboard
- Fender-owned brand aimed at rock and metal players
- Twin humbuckers
- Alder body, bolt-on maple neck
More expensive than the Player Tele, and altogether more aggressive in tone, this instrument from shred builders Charvel takes no prisoners.
24 frets and a graphite-reinforced bolt-on maple keep this beast in tune through the most grueling gigging schedules. Its twin active humbucking pickups are perfect for higher-gain music, but you have the option of tapping the coils using the handy switch between control knobs in order to access single-coil sounds.
If you want a guitar that shreds with the classic looks and feel of a Telecaster, this might be the one for you.Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Tele – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
4. Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster
- Two vintage-style ‘50s Tele single-coil pickups
- “Early ‘50s u”-shaped Maple neck; 7. 25”-Radius Fingerboard with 21 vintage-style Frets
- Alder Body
- Vintage-style string-through-body Tele Bridge with three brass barrel saddles
- Includes deluxe Gig Bag
- Vintage spec Tele for fans of classic rock and country
- Warm, expansive Tele twang
- Alder body, maple neck
Everything about the Vintera 50s model harkens back to the golden age of Fender production. Unless you’re Keith Richards or a serious collector, you probably don’t want to drop tens of thousands on a genuine 1950s Tele. This is the next best thing.
This guitar was built with vintage-voiced Fender pickups, a beautifully chunky 50s-style neck, and a string-through body bridge for that extra warmth we all love about 50s Telecaster tones.
Reject modernity. Embrace tradition. This is a Telecaster for players who want to capture the old-school cool of the original era of Telecaster production. Perfect for rock and country.Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
5. Jim Root Telecaster
- Active EMG pickups combined with a mahogany body produce the huge and ultra-heavy tones Jim is famous for.
- With a 12" freeboard radius and medium jumbo frets, this neck has a flatter / faster feel that's perfect for high-intensity playing.
- Black-Tweed case with red-plush interior included.
- Telecaster for metalheads
- Punishing, distorted tone
- Mahogany body & bolt-on neck with ebony fretboard
- Expect to pay $750 for Squier, or up about $1100 for Fender
The Jim Root Telecaster is absolutely not for Telecaster purists!
With its distinctive matte finish, no-nonsense high-output tone, and the Slipknot axeman’s name on the headstock, this is a Telecaster aimed squarely at metalheads.
If you’re in the mood to grind out the punishing opening riff from “Psychosocial”, this is the Telecaster for you. Jim Root’s take-no-prisoners style is represented in every inch of his signature guitar. You’ll be able to chug, shred, and squeal away to your heart’s content with this instrument.
There is also a Squier version of this hot-rodded Tele; it features a laurel, rather than an ebony fretboard, and passive, rather than active pickups.
Surprisingly, although the Fender model’s EMG pickups deliver Root’s monstrous tone in spades, the Squier version’s passive humbuckers are impressively versatile.
If you’re looking to cover softer styles of music as well as Slipknot-style metal, you would do well to consider the Jim Root Telecaster.Jim Root Telecaster – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
6. EVH Wolfgang Standard
- Solidbody Electric Guitar with Basswood Body
- Floyd Rose Tremolo - Cream White
- 2 Humbucking Pickups
- Maple Fingerboard
- Maple Neck
- Ultra-modern take on a classic from legendary guitarist Edward Van Halen
- Extremely versatile: great for country, rock, metal, and pop
- Floyd Rose tremolo
- We admit – we’re pushing the boundaries with this one!
We’re sure Edward Van Halen’s intellectual property lawyers would argue until blue in the face that this isn’t a Telecaster.
But take a look at the specs…
Maple neck, bolted on to a single-cutaway body. Versatile tone. Sure, it’s got a three-way selector and three-a-side headstock like a Gibson guitar, but it’s made in Fender’s Mexico factory alongside all the other Fender Tele’s on this list.
If it looks like a Tele and quacks like a Tele, we’re calling it a Tele.
Edward designed this guitar himself, and his precise-painstaking approach to music is reflected in its construction. From its surprisingly versatile EVH Wolfgang pickups to its graphite-reinforced, easy-to-adjust roasted maple neck, this guitar is built to last. This is really a working musician’s guitar, rather than a collector’s case queen.
The guitar is built for maximum comfort, including the contours of its body and where the body meets the neck. There’s even pricey (surprisingly, given this guitar’s RRP) EVH-branded potentiometers to help tame your volume and tone to your heart’s content. Sure, you can churn out the widdly bit from “Eruption”, but this guitar can do so much more. Just ask Paul Sidoti, guitarist for country-pop megastar Taylor Swift.
The Wolfgang is, in many ways, the spiritual heir to the original Telecaster, covering rock and country like no other instrument. Plus, anything Van Halen touched is extremely cool by default.EVH Wolfgang Standard – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
7. Deluxe Nashville Telecaster
- Includes deluxe gig bag
- Two Vintage Noiseless Tele pickups (neck and bridge); single Vintage Noiseless Strat pickup (middle)
- 5-way Strat-o-Tone switching
- Six-saddle string-through-body Tele bridge with block saddles
- 12”-radius fingerboard; contoured neck heel; locking short-post tuning machines
- Telecaster with Strat-style pickups
- Studio player’s dream
- Alder body, maple neck
- Strat-style switching
Supposedly, this guitar was designed to address the needs of studio players in Nashville, Tennessee. In a town where country music isn’t just a business – it’s the business – studio guitarists were finding themselves wanting a little bit of Strat quack from their country-certified Telecasters.
Enter the Nashville Tele.
Sure, you can get your trebly, twangy bridge pickup sounds. You can have those warm, luscious neck pickup cleans. But this guitar has an extra trick, the middle pickup responsible for the Fender Stratocaster’s “quack”.
With a five-way switching system, you can put together any feasible pickup configuration, from classic Tele tones to that warm, articulate dual-single-coil sound Jimi Hendrix made famous.
This is a guitar squarely aimed, as the name suggests, at country players who want more from a Telecaster than the classic Telecaster offering. Perfect for studio musicians and gigging guitarists with a jam-packed schedule.Deluxe Nashville Telecaster – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
8. Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster
- 100% designed by Fender
- Fender-Designed alnico pickups
- Inspired by 1970s-era Telecaster models
- Nickel-plated hardware
- Period-correct headstock markings
- Sound like Keith Richards!
- Maple body, maple neck
- Inspired by 70s Telecasters
- Humbucker in the neck and single-coil in the bridge for maximum tonal versatility
If you listen to “Brown Sugar”, opening cut from the Rolling Stones’ legendary studio album Sticky Fingers, you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of Keith Richards’ beloved Telecaster Custom.
If that warm, sweet, rhythmic sound is music to your ears, consider the Classic Vibe Telecaster.
Like the Fender Vintera series, the Classic Vibe Tele’s are designed to capture the best of particular eras of Fender production. This guitar aims for the 1970s, when the Telecaster Custom, equipped with its neck humbucker, challenged for solid-body guitar stardom.
Although the 70s Telecaster was radical for the time, fifty years on it’s considered a truly classic tone. If you’re after an authentic 1970s feel, but not the authentic 1970s price tag, this great guitar from Squier will be the one for you.Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
9. ESP LTE200MBLK
- The ESP LTD TE-200M Black has a Mahogany Body with a 3 Piece Maple Neck
- This guitar comes equipped with an LTD Fixed Bridge w/String Thru
- It has a Maple Fingerboard with a Bolt-On Neck and a 25.5" Scale, with 24 Extra Jumbo Frets and a Thin-U Neck Shape
- The pickups are ESP Designed
- Mahogany body, bolt-on maple neck
- Twin humbuckers
- Aimed at metal and rock players
Like the Jim Root Telecaster, this Tele is not for the faint-hearted. If you like the Jim Root Tele, but not its price tag, the ESP Telecaster copy could be for you.
With twin humbuckers, 24 frets, and an ultra-fast neck, this is a guitar for shredders. It’s made in Japan by legendary Japanese builders ESP, with an aggressive price tag to match its aggressive tone.
If we’re honest, this guitar looks like a Telecaster more than it sounds like one, but if that’s what you want from a Telecaster-style guitar instrument then this is a great choice.ESP LTE200MBLK – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
Schecter PT Special
- Solidbody Electric Guitar with Swamp Ash Body
- 1 P-90-style Pickup - 3-Tone Sunburst Pearl
- 1 Single-coil Pickup
- Maple Fingerboard
- Maple Neck
- Swamp ash body, maple neck
- Ashtray bridge
Schecter have something of a reputation for building metal-friendly shred guitars. Therefore, you might be surprised to see a traditional-style Telecaster, complete with ashtray-style bridge, single-coil pickups, Grover tuners, and swamp ash body, with the Schecter name on the headstock.
As you might imagine, this guitar really represents a meeting of retro and modern sensibilities.
Thanks to its single-coil pickups – including a fat-sounding P90 style pickup in the neck position – this Telecaster-style guitar has plenty of twang and thump. It will handle country and lighter rock styles with ease.
The PT Special’s thin, lightweight body is perfect for longer gigs where you’re standing for hours at a time, and its comfortable neck is awesome for lightning-fast runs up and down the fretboard.
While this guitar won’t produce, say, the crushing metal tones of the Jim Root Tele, but for everything else, it’s worth checking out.Schecter PT Special – click to view price and reviews at Amazon
Best Telecaster / Telecaster-Style Guitar
While purists may shake their heads at Telecaster-style guitars with humbuckers or even tremolos, it can’t be denied that the Telecaster body style is a timeless piece of guitar design.
Even if you’re not a traditional Telecaster player, as this list shows, there will be a Telecaster-style guitar for you.
If you are a “traditional” Telecaster player (whatever that means in this day and age), then today you have options that give you perhaps a little more flexibility in terms of tone than the standard configuration. And for purists, well, nothing can beat a classic American-made Tele in traditional spec!
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