Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus, Thinline and Short Scale Telecaster Review (2023)

Boasting vintage-inspired designs, modern playability, and an arsenal of unique sounds, the Modern Player Series is 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 Modern Player Telecaster Plus, Telecaster Thinline Deluxe, and Short Scale Telecaster are three guitars you should consider.

Who are these for?

The Modern Player Telecasters are mainly geared toward players who love the classic Telecaster design but want something tonally different and unique sounding.

At affordable price points, these guitars sit well with collectors and players who are in search of 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.


Variations

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus

Making their debut in 2011, these Chinese-made Fenders come in three different variations: the Telecaster Plus, the Telecaster Thinline Deluxe, and the Short Scale Telecaster.

Even with modern appointments, the timeless single-cutaway body (a standard both on the Fender/Squier models and on copies) 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.

Appearance

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 compromising 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 complement 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, one 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

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe

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.



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.

Appearance

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 a 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 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 Modern Player Telecaster Plus. A punchy and bright-tinted maple with the bi-flex truss rod system (read all about truss rods).

Hardware and Electronics

The hardware for this model is basically the same as the 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, one volume, and one 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.

Fender Modern Player Short Scale Telecaster

The contrast of the dark chambered mahogany and the bright highs of maple make up a unique tonal balance for this instrument. Even with two pickups and a 3-way pickup selector, the four knobs pave the 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.


Short Scale Telecaster

The Modern Player Series also has an alternate series offering short-scale guitars, including the 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. If you’d like more info on scale length, read our full guide.

Appearance

This guitar boasts the well loved telecaster body shape with a thinline pickguard design.

It is available in a White Blonde finish with 3-ply tortoiseshell pickguard or in a 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. The neck is made of the same maple as the Plus and Thinline Deluxe models.

Nothing can go wrong with this tonewood combination since it has been the prominent wood combo for Fender guitars.

Fender Modern Player Short Scale Stratocaster & Telecaster electric guitar review demo

Hardware and Electronics

The tuners and string trees are the 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 three 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

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe

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 telecaster 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

Like many of the Modern Player range, the Tele comes with gloss polyester finishes. These are thick, durable finishes, but at the same time, they retain 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 guitar ships 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 hardware 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.

For pickups, the world is your oyster. Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, and many more brands offer a variety of humbuckers, single coils, and P90s. Check out our list of the best pickups for Telecasters here.


Common Questions

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

PRS SE Standard 24

Sitting in the same price range as the Modern Player Telecaster, the PRS SE Standard 24 is a sure contender. Despite aesthetics leaning 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 a wonderful alternative if the fixed bridge turns you off. With a mahogany body, a maple neck, and a rosewood fingerboard, this guitar boasts the 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.

See our full review here, or check out prices and reviews at Sweetwater.


Fender Squier Classic Vibe Tele

Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster

If you love the price tag and playabiltiy but hate the modern appointments of the Modern Player Tele, 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 won’t stray far away from the Modern Player Telecaster. This would be the go-to option for players who love the look, design, hardware, and configurations of vintage telecasters. With a more modern radius of 9.5”, you won’t have to worry about fretting out when bending.

Check out prices and reviews on Sweetwater and Amazon.


Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster

Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster

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 store.

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 its unique mojo, which modern players tend to continually seek.

Check out prices and reviews at Sweetwater and Amazon.


Final Thoughts

Here are some key points and highlights for the this line

  • 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 a 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 modern playability. At this affordable price tag, there’s no excuse not to bring one home.

Author

  • Martin Holland

    Growing up in rural Australia, there wasn't much to do but play guitar and stare at the red dirt. When things broke, the only person to fix them was fifty miles away, and eventually fixing gave way to building, giving me my career as a luthier. I wouldn't have it any other way.