Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Artistic Brick: The Fender Telecaster

The mythology that surrounds the Fender Telecaster is a little different than the purple haze of otherworldly psychedelia tinged technical brilliance that wafts effortlessly around its younger sister. Yes, the Tele is definitely male and the Strat female - I mean look at the shape of them both!

The Strat has sweet curves and bumps in all the right places, topped off with a neat rounded headstock - its basically a woman embodied in wood. The Tele, in contrast, is a slab of wood with a few concessions made to the classic 'guitar shape' and a smaller, more functional headstock.

Contrast for a moment the classic Strat and Tele players in your mind's eye, what kind of music, image, vibe do they impart?

Strat: Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton, Yngwe Malmsteen. Tele: Springsteen, Joe Strummer, Hugh Cornwell, Graham Coxon, Chrissie Hynde, Wilko Johnson, Status Quo and James Burton (we'll draw a veil over Syd Barrett - he played off-beat psychedelia on a Tele and he went mad.)

From the above comparisons you can see what's called 'a correlation' in scientific circles. Tele players tend to be more earthy and rhythmic, more elemental; there's not much poncing around with endless cosmic noodling and other self-indulgent guitar-based masturbation.

Johnny Marr said it best, when he called the Telecaster an 'artistic brick'. Great description, which says it all: functional, heavy, relatively uncompromising and possibly dangerous if it lands on your head. Fortunately, our brick is made of wood, has pickups and strings attached and is the bedrock for the great temple of rock 'n roll (sorry for the cheesy pun, I couldn't resist.)

Whenever I think of the Tele, three people immediately spring to mind - Joe Strummer ranting out Clash tunes, Springsteen doing Born to Run, and a bug eyed Wilko Johnson doing his funny robot dance for Doctor Feelgood.

~ H-Allen