The Telecaster has always been a guitar that has attracted a certain type of player, primarily due to its signature single coil twang. Players who like the look of the Tele but want a fatter tone have traditionally had to look at T Style guitars from other manufacturers, but with the Fender Player Telecaster HH, they now have a genuine option from the original manufacturer.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide we’ve put a HH Telecaster to the test to find out how much it differs from the classic single coil models and whether it’s a guitar you should look to buy. This was a truly interesting test, so you’re definitely going to want to keep reading.
Who Is This For?
The Player series is Fender’s entry-level line for electric guitars. These Mexican-made guitars are aimed squarely at the intermediate guitarist, but working musicians and professionals looking to avoid spending excessive amounts will still get everything they need from this guitar.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The model we received for the test was a gorgeous “Tidepool” blue with a maple fretboard. If you want a HH model, finish choices are fairly limited, with just Tidepool, 3 Tone Sunburst, and Silver to choose from. Tidepool is the only option that comes with a maple fretboard – the other two options ship with a pau ferro board.
The body was made from alder, which is a lower-cost wood compared to the high-end ash you’d find on a US model, but tonally it behaves very similarly. For keeping costs down, it’s a great compromise.
It featured a Modern C neck profile, which we really enjoyed playing. The maple fretboard was well finished and offered great feel. This model came with twenty medium Jumbo frets, which we found super comfortable under the finger.
As you’d expect from a Fender branded electric guitar, the fret ends were well finished, and the crowns were nicely polished. The nut was well cut, and made from synthetic bone. We were big fans of the bent steel saddles, which make intonation adjustment so much easier than the traditional 3 barrel style setup.
The body was string through, which is always great for sustain, and is, in our opinion, the proper setup for any Telecaster.
This Tele was fitted with a pair of Fender Player Series Alnico II Humbucker pickups, with split coils activated by a push-pull tone pot. The pots themselves are standard CTS units – they performed really well, as you’d expect from CTS, and would not require any kind of upgrade.
If modding is your scene, being a Mexican Fender, this model is able to accept most Fender USA components as drop-in replacements, and there is a ton of aftermarket support from non-OEM brands, too. This means you’re unlikely to have to make any permanent modifications in order to make upgrades.
One of the first things we did with this guitar was getting it on the scale. The model we received weighed in at 8lb and 3oz, which is about average for a Tele. Because it wasn’t too heavy, we found it to be comfortable to play while standing for extended periods of time.
We particularly enjoyed the out of the box playability. Right out of the box, it was ready to go – the intonation was spot on, and the action was set low enough to be comfortable but not so low that we got chokeouts and fret buzz.
The slim, Modern C neck was fast, which works really well for the styles of music most tend to play on twin humbucker models! We were able to reach and stretch across the fretboard for complex chords, barre chords were comfortable, and single-note runs were a piece of cake.
It was crazy to hear such big, full tones coming from a Telecaster. The Alnico II pickups handled a full spectrum of style brilliantly, from rock and metal right through to softer country music. The sustain was incredible, especially on the bridge setting, and unlike anything we’ve played on a bolt-on neck guitar before.
The neck position was warm and worked great for rhythm guitar. In the middle we got a great blend, with huge presence that never felt muddy.
Splitting the coils and getting single coil tones meant we weren’t losing out on the classic Telecaster “twang” either. With just a pull on the tone knob, we had a single coil bridge pickup mounted almost exactly where you’d find the single coil pickup on a standard model. The single coil tones weren’t quite as bright as you’d find on a true SS model, but they still added a huge amount of tonal variety to an otherwise already versatile guitar.
Other Guitars to Consider
The Fender Player Telecaster HH is a great choice for any musician, whether you’re a beginner or a touring artist, but it might not be for everybody. In case you’d like to consider some other options, take a look at these great alternatives.
Some say that G&L models are the guitars that Fenders should have been. Regardless of your thoughts on G&L vs Fender, it’s hard to deny that this Tribute ASAT makes a great alternative to the Telecaster. It’s accessibly priced, coming in around $300 less than the Fender, and it offers an extremely similar set of features.
It has a pair of Cort humbuckers designed by Paul Gagon, and like the Fender, offers push pull split coils for single coil tones. The transparent black finish over flamed maple is absolutely stunning, and the bound body looks fantastic, too.
Charvel is one of the biggest names when it comes to guitars for all-out shredding, and because the Telecaster doesn’t have a reputation for being a fast or heavy instrument, the juxtaposition here is fantastic. Because Charvel is a Fender brand, you’ll notice that it has a traditional Telecaster headstock and even standard Tele body dimensions, although it does feature a 24-fret neck vs. the 22 frets found on the Fender.
Just like the Fender, it’s equipped with a pair of humbucking pickups, although, in this case they aren’t split coils. The pups themselves are Fishman Fluence active models, and they provide exceptional clarity, even when being driven hard and distorted. It boasts a solid ash body and a gorgeous roasted maple neck.
There wasn’t anything that we really found ourselves disliking about the Fender Telecaster HH. Construction and overall quality were great – we loved the humbucker tones, and we especially loved that we didn’t have to give up single coil tones altogether to get them.
This setup makes this a great choice for somebody who maybe only has the budget for one guitar and can’t decide between humbuckers or single coils.
No matter what you plan to use it for, you’ll have fun using this incredibly dynamic guitar.