The Delta Snake Review

The Delta Snake Review


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Guitar Review: 2004 MIM Fender Nashville Deluxe Telecaster

It was actually a guitar picked up in the way more than one guitar had ended up in someone's collection; I was actually using it to test out amplifiers,and ended up buying the Fender instead.

It wasn't so much as an impulse buy as fate. I had been in the market for second telecaster add to my collection, and the Mexican made Nashville was actually one of the models I was keeping an eye out for.

The Nashville model I'm most familiar with is the one with the semi hollow body, but when I was looking for a guitar to check out some amplifiers I saw the solid body version on the rack.

As you can see from the picture it pretty much looks like a standard, except it has a stratocaster pick up in the middle. This is supposed to be a secret that many Nashville session men use in their customized guitars,which are virtually always telecasters.

The selling point is that you have a telecaster and the stratocaster combined in one guitar.

This is only technically true.

Putting a strat pickup in the middle does give you the extra flexibility to get some Strat-like tones in your music, but as a general rule most strat players don't use the middle pick up by itself.

Of course the fact that most don't could be a good reason for you to go ahead and do that. Why follow the crowd?

This is actually one of the more admired Mexican made teles from Fender. From what I can see on the Internet, most of those who  own one like or love it.

The main point of controversy, at least as far as such things go in the guitar world, is the Tex-Mex pick ups. All three are basically like the pick-ups that are used for the telecaster and strat standards, except that the wire coils around the magnet has extra winds in order to create a "hotter" sound. Though in guitar terms that doesn't necessarily mean more fierce sounding. Just a little fuller,

The fact that I bought it based on how it sounded out of the amplifier, as opposed to researching it first on the Internet, was a good reminder of the basic rule of the guitar buying, which is to trust your ears and not what people say.

In other words I didn't know there were "Tex-Mex" pick ups on that guitar. If I had known that I wouldn't have even picked the guitar off the rack.

The reason is years ago one of the strats that I owned (and didn't keep) was the Jimmy Vaughan model with Tex-Mex pick ups. It was a model that I absolutely hated the sound of, and returned to the store within a week.

Add to that the small but vocal chorus of bad mouthing that goes on about Tex-Mex pick ups on the Internet, and you have a guitar that I would normally avoid.

Actually I should've known better. The first telecaster I owned back in '73 and used for 25 years had a rewound front pick up, in other words what they now call a Tex-Mex.

Which is the first thing I realized when I was playing the guitar at the store. The front pick up sounded like my old telecaster.

This was an important point to me since I generally use the front pick up. Part of the reason was that my old CBS era telecaster had a crappy back pick-up sound, and part of it was that I liked the sound of the front pick-up with the treble turned all the way up.

If you listen to those few songs where I played the solo or lead guitar in the Handa-McGraw & The Internationals recordings, that's the sound of a rewound front pick up a telecaster (on an old small amp with gain and volume high).

The general word on the Nashville deluxe that I've read is that it's a hotter or darker telecaster and won't give you the "traditional" sound.

By traditional sound I believe that means that thinner 50s sound you hear on old country records. By the same token, that term has pretty much lost it's meaning by this time.

Fender's been making telecasters for over 60 years, most of which have certain things in common in terms of tone, but there's really no longer any such thing as a single classic sound.

The Fender Nashville Deluxe is a Mexican made telecaster, though much of it was made in the United States and sent down to Mexico for assembly.

In the case of my candy apple red version, it has the usual alder wood body, and in this case a maple neck. Which I prefer.

The style of maple neck on this model is what you would call a "fast neck," which means it's a little thinner and slimmer. Since I have small hands that's a desirable feature.

The basic hardware like the bridge and pegs are more than good enough. I've heard some criticism about those metal parts but these tuning pegs in particular are way better than the ones I had on my old '73.

The heart of the electronics is the three pick-up configuration, with the middle pick-up being a strat type.

The two Tex-Mex telecaster pick-ups sound just fine, The two basically sound like standard telecaster pick-ups except a bit fuller sounding, basically as advertised. If you want to sound a little sharper and thinner like a standard, i'm sure you can adjust the tone on any decent amp.

I'd describe the sound with a little more detail except what I hear is probably not going to be what you hear. 

The fact is, although electric guitars haven't changed a whole lot due to the conservatism of most guitar buyers, at least the older ones, amplifier technology has always moved at a fast pace. 

In fact it would be moving even faster if it wasn't for the fact that most of the older guitar players want amplifiers that duplicate the old vintage types. How amplifier makers responded to that demand is a story in itself.

I can say that these telecaster pick-ups will give you everything from the old twangy sound, to a classic jazz sound, and a superior blues tone. If you have a decent amp, like any telecaster, it will give you pretty much any tone you want, even metal, even though a lot of reviewers say the telecaster can't play that type.

In this day and age, if you have the right amp and pedals, you can get any sound you want out of almost any guitar.

The middle Strat pick up on the Nashville actually works very well. To me it sounds like a strat pick-up that's been moved  closer to the neck.

One other thing different about this telecaster is that it has a five position switch instead of the traditional three. So you can combine the bridge and middle, and middle and neck, but to be apparent anguish of many telecaster traditionalists, you can't combine the bridge and neck pick ups.

That neck and bridge combination isn't one that I ever used very much, but plenty of telecaster players do. In the early 70s you would've been SOL, but we live in an era where you can easily have have the front and back combined setting customized into the guitar or even do it yourself.

If you want the "standard" telecaster tone, you'd probably better be better off just buying one of the standards, if for no other reason that you won't have musicians looking at your Nashville and psychologically not being able to hear a standard tone from it.

When I was in the store there was a standard American Tele on the rack next to this one for only $300 more, but after trying it I felt that it didn't sound $300 better. 

I've owned a couple of other American standards, one I would say sounded better than the Nashville, the other a lot worse. That may sound strange to some doesn't play guitar, but most musicians know what I'm talking about.

The Fender Nashville deluxe telecaster has been one of it's more successful Mexican models, and given what I've seen of it, it's probably one of the best values in the midprice range. If you can find a used one at a good price, it'll be both a bargain and a keeper.

In my case I've found a telecaster that has a front pick up that sounds like my old '73, and that's priceless.


The guitar instrumentals I was referring to earlier in the article are, "Texas Jook Joint Boogie," "Rocking Juke Joint Blues Shuffle," "Night Train," and the opening of "Internationals Rock The Blues."