When Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender first opened the Fender Radio Service with his wife in his hometown of Fullerton, he had never imagined that his love for electronics would end up being so revolutionary. What started out as a small amplification systems' business, soon skyrocketed into a multimillion empire. Today, every layman, every music enthusiast, and every famous musician is privy to the Fender name. Among his wide range of products, the Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster became, and still are, his best-selling models of electric guitars. Which is why, when we have to choose one over the other, it is a close call. So, in this article, we give the design specifications for both models, along with major differences and famous users of each. This might help you make up your mind, even if we are left torn!
Although both are Fender makes, the sound quality, looks, and other elements are what keeps buyers and enthusiasts divided. Here are some of the major differences between these mega models.
✦ Strat has a sleeker, rounded double-cutaway design that makes the accessing of the higher frets much easier. The "Beer Gut" contour on the back and chamber in the front makes it easier to rest the hands in front and the guitar on the stomach more comfortably, thus, being more convenient to play for long hours. Also, the cable jack is located on the top.
✦ Tele was the first mass-produced, solid body, single-cutaway guitar to be made. In comparison, it has a flat body, which sometimes is less comfortable for some players to handle for prolonged hours. Its cable jack is located on the side.
✦ It has similar measurements to the Tele, but has a longer headstock, which is said to give more balance, improve tonal quality, and add sustain, which some might say is minor.
✦ Because of the truss rod and fretboard design, it is easier to adjust and configure based on personal preferences.
Pickups and Controls
✦ It has 3 single-coil pickups with a 5-way pickup selector, a master volume control, and two tone controllers―one each for the middle and bridge pickups, which facilitates numerous combination possibilities, thus, providing a wider range of tones and effects.
✦ It has a wide range of options like 2 single-coil pickups, 2 humbuckers, one single-coil and 1 humbucker, or 3 humbuckers along with a pickup in the neck. This is paired with a master volume control and a master tone control. Because of this, the musical quality of the Telecaster provides a very distinctive sound quality, despite a small range in pickup combinations.
✦ Its bridge is attached to springs that connect to a tremolo system in the back, allowing you to adjust the string tension with a whammy bar, thus creating a vibrato effect. It also has a pickguard that is more curved and occupies more space.
✦ Its bridge extends below the bridge pickup itself, and has a smaller pickguard with less curvature.
✦ It gives a lot more options when it comes to tone and a richer, more distorted sound quality but can also give a mellow, fuller sound due to its variable pickup configuration.
✦ Again, the sound quality differs based on the pickup used, but its sound is generally associated with a clear, cutting, crisp, and tangy sound with good treble tones.
- Jeff Beck: He is a Grammy Award-winning guitarist who played with the Yardbirds and his own band 'The Jeff Beck Group'. He was originally a Les Paul player who switched loyalty and has his own signature model.
- Ritchie Blackmore: He was the founding member of Deep Purple and Rainbow. He uses a modified Strat where the middle pickup is shifted to the end and the fretboard is scalloped from the 10th fret up.
- Eric Clapton: Another Gibson fan turned Fender groupie. He had a Strat named Brownie that he used on his classic "Layla". A composite of three guitars, called Blackie, was his choice from 1970-85 when he retired, which was later sold at a charity auction. The Eric Clapton Stratocaster was the first of many in the signature series.
- The Edge: He is a lead guitarist of U2, who is known for his melodies and use of delay.
- David Gilmour: He is a legendary vocalist and guitarist of Pink Floyd, known for his blues-influenced solos, who recorded the famous "Comfortably Numb" on a Strat. It is a custom-modified Black Strat, which was later retired for a Candy Apple Red American Vintage Stratocaster.
- Buddy Guy: He is an American Blues guitarist and vocalist who used the guitar through the course of his career, and influenced other legendary players like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
- George Harrison: He used both the Stratocaster and the Telecaster as 'The Beatles' member. His Strat had the word "Bebopalula" hand-painted near the pickup along with some psychedelic art and the guitar name "Rocky" near the headstock.
- Jimi Hendrix: One of the most prolific blues guitarist, he used a right-handed Strat upside down to meet his left-handed needs. A limited-edition Hendrix tribute model was released in 1997.
- Mark Knopfler: Member of Dire Straits, he now has a signature model in his name.
- Yngwie J. Malmsteen: He is known for using the guitar to play Neoclassical metal tunes with sweeping, shredding, and heavy chord progressions.
- John Mayer: A heartthrob for many, he uses the guitar in a versatile manner under various genres. A signature model is produced under his name.
- John Greenwood: Member of Radiohead who used the guitar with an added cutoff switch.
- Chrissie Hynde: Used the Tele in her performances with The Pretenders, a guitar which made its appearance on their album cover for Get Close.
- Waylon Jennings: Noted country performer who owned a Telecaster covered in black and white leather with oak leaf and floral motifs. There is a signature model in his honor.
- John 5: Heavy metal guitarist who is known for his shredding, he has a signature model in his name.
- James Burton: He has used this guitar since he was 13, and used the Paisley Red Tele while performing with Elvis Presley. He has a signature series to his name.
- Bob Dylan: His controversial sound was created using this model, and was included in his fame 1966 tour of Europe and Australia.
- Muddy Waters: A legendary musician, he molded blues and rock together, and used a '57 Telecaster. A signature series was produced in his name.
- Keith Richards: Member of The Rolling Stones, he used a '53 model named "Micawber" with 5-string open G and a humbucker located near the neck.
- Jim Root: Of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame, he uses both the Strat and the Tele.
- Joe Strummer: A member of The Clash who made the guitar famous in the punk scene.
- Pete Townshend: From the Who, his favorite guitar is the 1952 Vintage Telecaster.
So go out there, maybe try them both, and let us know which is one is your rock and roll weapon!