The Best (non-Fender) T-Style Guitars
Telecasters. We all love them, well maybe not everybody digs the headstock shape or even the body shape for that matter, but I digress. Regardless, most guitar players have a deep-rooted respect for the classic feel and sound that the Leo Fender design introduced all those years ago. From intonation to just being a raw rock n’ roll powerhouse, the Tele has cemented its place as one of the most iconic guitar designs in history. Over the decades this icon has led to many other six strings being modeled in its wake. While not for everyone, choosing to go with a Fender sound outside of the brand itself can bring about certain benefits. Many other brands have developed their own unique take on the Telecaster (some much better than others). Here is a list that displays some of our favorite adaptations of the Tele style.
Reverend Pete Anderson Eastsider T
A fantastic choice for anyone looking to remain true to the fender body shape, this Pete Anderson sig from Reverend is a killer instrument. This guitar takes a vintage look and beefs it up with modern practicality. The included roasted neck and locking tuners are two features that you would be hard-pressed to find from any other company at this price point. There are additionally a lot of smaller details put into these guitars. Just take a look at the binding or aged inlays (on some colors) and you will begin to realize the passion behind this guitar. It’s also worth noting that you do have other, less traditional, body style options from Reverend if you love these features and configuration. Just a great company to check out in general!
Suhr Classic T
An obvious jump in price from the Reverend, however, some would consider it quite worth it. Suhr is known for making some of the most high-end American made instruments that you can buy. The classic T stays true to their brand by bringing an old classic back to life with the utmost care. Just by picking up this axe you will certainly recognize the time and effort put into its design. Also, the features are present! Including a SSCII hum canceling system, stainless steel frets and Wilkinson bridge you are getting the crème of the crop here. However, at just under three thousand U.S. dollars after-tax, the best parts are to be expected. Nonetheless, if in your price range, these tele style guitars are among the best ever made.
Novo Serus T
Another high-end option, but this time from the mind of Denis Fano. This model from Novo sports a modern boutique aesthetic that looks like it has been played for decades. This company does some of the most tasteful relicing out there, so if that’s your thing, this may be the T-style for you. That said, I don’t know too many people who would call this a tele based off its appearance. Yet the traditional Fralin tele style bridge pickup will definitely get you that classic sound. As for the neck, you are getting a P-90 style pickup instead of the traditional lipstick config we are all so used to seeing. Plenty of individuals (myself included) like this configuration better because it adds a lot in terms of versatility to the instrument’s tonal palette. Regardless of what guitars you are accustomed to, give this one a play if you ever have the chance.
Chapman ML3 Pro Traditional
The last entry on this list is going to be one of the lesser mentioned options. When most people think of Rob Chapman and or Chapman Guitars, they often are picturing metal or heavy music of some sort. So, you might be surprised to find out that the company makes some incredible traditional options for the price. The ML3 is a great choice for those looking to be different but not too different. Things like the body and headstock shape are going to add to the traditional look while other features like the reverse headstock and infinity inlay are going add to the modern aesthetic. The brass saddles and locking tuners ensure that intonation is going to be great, just as you would expect. There are a lot of reasons to check into the Chapman traditional stuff, I highly recommend you give them a shout at some point.
You may have read this list in disgust that anyone would even consider getting anything, but a Fender and I can understand at least some of your logic. But in the end, you are always going to be putting some of your guitar purchase towards the brand name that you are buying from. Big companies like Fender definitely have and do make great guitars every day. However, for many of us the features and unique aesthetics that we love to see just cannot be found on a stock Fender instrument. This is why these T-styles guitars exist. So, now that that’s out of the way, all the guitars listed are fabulous for tools getting that classic rich telecaster tone. Hopefully, I opened your eyes to a new brand or two, each one from the guitars mentioned makes great instruments all around. I hope to go into more detail on each of these brands specifically in the future, but for now, that's it from me. Thanks for reading!