Boasting vintage-inspired designs, modern playability, and an arsenal of unique sounds, the Fender Modern Player Series telecasters are for guitarists who want classic looking guitars that break the rules in a sonically pleasing way.
From a brand at the forefront of the guitar industry, the aesthetics, sounds, and feel of these axes live up to the name.
If you’re someone with a tight budget looking for an instrument that sounds unique but looks and feels familiar, then the Fender Modern Telecaster Plus, Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe, and Fender Modern Player Short Scale Telecaster are three guitars you should consider.
Who is the Fender Modern Player Telecaster for?
The Fender Modern Player Telecasters are mainly geared towards players who love the classic telecaster design but are looking for something tonally different and unique sounding.
At affordable price points, these guitars sit well with collectors and players who are in the search for something a little bit out of the box.
Also, with modern playability, unconventional tones, and a classic aesthetic, seasoned players won’t struggle to break in these instruments.
Against other telecaster models, the Fender Modern Player Tele lineup focuses on breaking the tonal boundaries of the traditional telecaster while still keeping its core vintage aesthetics.
Making their debut in 2011, these Chinese-made Fenders come in three different variations, the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus, the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe, and the Fender Modern Player Short Scale Telecaster.
Even with modern appointments, the timeless single-cutaway body together with a vintage-looking maple neck gives these models an overall Telecaster design that pays respect to its heritage.
Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus
If you love solid-body sustain and want access to a myriad of tones, at this price, no one’s stopping you from trying this axe out.
Even with its modern appointments, the timeless single-cutaway body together with a vintage-looking maple neck gives the model an overall Telecaster design that pays respect to its heritage.
The model comes in either Charcoal Transparent or Honey Burst gloss finishes that beautifully displays the tight pine grain of the body. It features the Fender spaghetti logo and a three-ply black pickguard that is reminiscent of the iconic blackguard teles.
Body And Neck Materials
Unlike its alder and ash counterparts, the body for this model is crafted from quality pine, giving the instrument gentle highs, an open mid-range, and a modest bottom end. The tinted maple neck not only gives the guitar its bright and percussive attack but also the iconic telecaster charm we all know and love.
The combination of pine and maple gives it more tonal options than its vintage counterparts without the compromise of the classic aesthetic.
Hardware and Electronics
Even though it’s a few hundred dollars below the price of most MIM Fenders, the hardware and electronics hold their own against their more expensive cousin.
Starting at the headstock, the diecast chrome vintage-style locking tuners and a pair of round string trees compliment well with the Tele headstock and the Fender spaghetti logo. The neck has 22 jumbo nickel frets and a 1.650” synthetic bone nut. The model features a versatile HSS configuration (made up of a Modern Player Tele neck pickup, a Modern Player Strat single-coil in the middle, and a Modern Player Humbucker at the bridge), a 5-way pickup selector, 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob, and a toggle switch to split the bridge humbucker. The guitar uses a string-through-body Strat-style bridge which contributes to both sustain and tuning stability.
The model gets a “Plus” in its name due to the added middle pickup and bridge humbucker with coil-split, a pretty modern update to the classic Tele configuration.
Sound and Feel
Don’t let the price tag fool you. This guitar performs and sounds well above what you pay for.
The pine body gives the instrument a tonal place between the bright tones of ash and the sonic warmth of basswood which makes it suited to a variety of genres. Paired with its HSS pickup configuration and a coil-split, this axe holds an arsenal of tone options possibly more than you’ll ever need. The bridge humbucker gives you access to crunchy and thick high gain sounds and with the option of a coil-split, it can take you to classic SRV, Hendrix, and Knopfler territory when paired with the middle pickup. The neck pickup gives you the classic neck Tele tone and when paired with the middle pickup, you’ll be soaring through a sweet strat zone.
The body is a bit heavier compared to the MIM Fenders but features a belly-cut to provide an added comfort that most teles don’t usually give. The glossed standard C-shaped neck, 9.5” radius, and the jumbo nickel frets give the guitar modern playability with a classic Fender feel.
Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe
With its thinline design and a pair of P90s, this model breaks the Tele mold for looks and sound, but still retains the classic Fender features and style.
This guitar is a hybrid of the three known Telecaster variations. It has the Tele body shape with the f-hole and aesthetic of the thinline series and a pickup configuration that is obviously from the telecaster deluxe. Even with all of these elements combined, the guitars’ looks are far away from being a Frankenstein.
Available in three-tone sunburst with a parchment pickguard or in transparent black with a black pickguard, this guitar screams both mojo and sophistication.
Body and Neck Materials
The body is made of mahogany which gives of a dark and fat tone with a very pronounced mid-range. The f-hole adds a top-end roll-off which creates a roundness to the sound. Even with a chambered body, the guitar has a distinctive and impressive sustain.
The neck is similar to the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus. A punchy and bright tinted maple with the bi-flex truss rod system.
Harware and Electronics
The hardware for this model is basically the same as the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus. It features the same vintage-style tuners, a pair of round string trees, a 1.650” synthetic bone nut, and the same string-through-body strat-style bridge with stamped saddles.
The neck on this model has 22 medium-jumbo nickel frets so it offers the feel of both modern and vintage playability. Going to the electronics, this model has a pair of MP-90 pickups that pack a lot of thick mid-punch with notable hints of high-end sparkle. The MP-90s are routed to a 3-way selector switch and four knobs, 1 volume, and 1 tone knob assigned to each pickup.
Sound and Feel
At this price, this guitar has a more varied sound palette than you could ever possibly need.
The contrast of the dark chambered mahogany and the bright highs of maple make up a unique tonal balance for this instrument. Even with 2 pickups and a 3-way pickup selector, the four knobs pave way for a variety of tones for this instrument. Ranging from smooth, warm jazz tones to twangy Tele tones that we’re familiar with, this guitar covers a lot of the sonic spectrum. Also, the semi-hollow mahogany body and the MP90s make this guitar able to get away with a considerable amount of gain.
The advantage of having one volume and one tone knob for each pickup is that you can assign a pickup for your rhythm tones and one pickup for a lead tone so with a flick of a selector switch, you probably won’t need an overdrive or boost pedal anymore.
The chambered body greatly contributes to the weight of this guitar, making it way lighter than most telecasters. The guitar still stays true to the familiar Fender feel with its glossed 25.5” scale C-shaped neck, 9.5” radius, and medium-jumbo nickel frets.
Fender Modern Player Short Scale Telecaster
The Fender Modern Player Series also has an alternate series offering short-scale guitars. In this lineup is the Fender Modern Player Short Scale Telecaster. Even with the same body dimensions as a regular telecaster, these telecasters offer a different sound as well as playability with its 24” scale length and a unique pickup combination.
This guitar boasts the well loved telecaster body shape with a thinline pickguard design.
It is available in White Blonde finish with 3-ply tortoiseshell pickguard or in Butterscotch Blonde with a 3-ply black pickguard.
Body and Neck Materials
The body is made up of alder which sits tonally between ash and basswood. Perfect for single-coils and works great with humbuckers as well. Neck is made of the same maple as the Plus and Thinline Deluxe models.
Nothing can go wrong with this tone wood combination since it has been the prominent wood combo for Fender guitars.
Hardware and Electronics
The tuners and string trees are same with both the Plus and the Thinline models.
What makes this axe different from the other Modern Player Telecaster is its vintage telecaster bridge with 3 saddles and it’s SH pickup configuration featuring a Modern Player Telecaster Single-Coil Bridge and a Guild HB-1 humbucking neck pickup. With its 3-way blade switch, one volume, and one tone knob, this guitar offers an array of sounds that are easy to access.
Sound and Feel
With 20 medium-jumbo nickel frets and a 24” scale length, this guitar works well with people who have small hands or small stature. This guitar is also for people who love the scale length and feel of Mustangs, Jaguars, and Duo-Sonics but want a Telecaster design.
The SH pickup combination has been on telecasters in the past, but with the short scale length, you get a whole new set of tones from this guitar. Rhythm players will surely feel at home with the sounds these models offer.
Maintenance and Suggested upgrades
The Fender Modern Player Telecasters come with gloss polyester finishes. These are thick durable finishes but at the same time, it retains the necessary vibrations for the guitars to sound good acoustically. Also, with the glossed maple neck, you won’t worry about fretboard conditioning, unlike rosewood, pau ferro, laurel, ebony, etc.
For adjustments and setups, a 1/8” allen wrench works for the truss rod, 0.050” hex for the saddles, and a Phillip’s head screwdriver for all the screws.
The Fender Modern Player Telecasters ship with Fender’s own .009 – .042 250L Nickel Plated Steel Strings but the guitar also plays well with any string brand of your choice.
You’ll eventually want to upgrade the hardwares on these guitars. Gotoh, Hipshot, Wilkinson, and Schaller offer strat-style hardtail bridges that would fit perfectly on these telecasters. As for the electronics, these models come with no-brand potentiometers, switches, and capacitors. A quick upgrade to full-sized high quality pots like CTS and Bourns can definitely make a huge difference.
How well does it stand up to a Made In Mexico Fender?
From a personal experience, it plays and feels exactly the same as a Fender Standard Telecaster. The most notable difference is the weight. It’s a bit heavier but not as heavy as a Les Paul.
How much does the Modern Player Telecaster weigh?
While the weight of individual guitars always varies a little, the Modern Player Telecaster typically weighs around 7.5lbs (which is around 3.5 kilos). This makes it lighter than a strat, which is typically around 8.5lbs, and significantly lighter than the old 10lb Gibson Les Pauls.
Where are Fender Modern Player telecasters made?
Fender Modern Player Telecasters are made in China.
Other Guitars To Consider
PRS SE Standard 24
Sits in the same price range as the Fender Modern Player Telecaster, the PRS SE Standard 24 is a sure contender. Despite aesthetics leaning on towards the modern side, this particular model offers both vintage and modern tones with its HH pickup configuration and coil-split capabilities.
With the tremolo system, this is wonderful alternative if the fixed bridge turns you off. A mahogany body with a maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, this guitar boasts best of both Gibson and Fender. The model also comes with a variety of color options to choose from and when it comes to finishes, PRS surely nails it.
Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster
If you love the price tag and playabiltiy but hate the modern appointments of the Fender Modern Player Telecaster, then the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster might be the guitar for you.
With the same exact tone woods and poly finishes used, the level of build quality and feel wont stray far away from the Fender Modern Player Telecaster. This would be the go to option for players who love the look, design, hardware, and configurations of vintage telecasters. With the a more modern radius of 9.5”, you won’t have to worry fretting out when doing your bends.
Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster
Since the Fender Modern Player Telecaster is a hybrid guitar and if you’re into hybrid guitars that don’t stray away that much from the classic designs then the Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster is something that you should try out at your local guitar shop.
Sitting at the same price range, this guitar however, offers more than its price tag. Available in Surf Green and Natural finishes, the okoume body combined with the maple neck gives this guitar it’s unique mojo which modern players tend continually seek.
Summary and Conclusion
Here are some key points and highlights for the Fender Modern Player Telecaster
- Classic Telecaster looks
- Tonal versatility
- Two finish options that beautifully display the grain
- Sturdy polyester finish built for gigging
- Belly-contour for added comfort
- Easy to play neck
- Low action with jumbo and medium jumbo frets
- Added sustain with hard-tail bridge
- Comes at an affordable price
- Ideal guitar for special modifications
- Ideal upgrade from a beginner guitar
- Great for both casual and seasoned players
To sum it up this guitar is great for players who love a good old classic design with more tone options and a modern playability. At this affordable price tag, there’s no excuse not to bring one home.