Comparison between Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster

Fender Telecaster Vs. Stratocaster: Which is Better?

Are you a beginner or a guitar fanatic wanting to purchase a new guitar and are confused between the equally appealing models of Fender? Then you've come to the right place! This Buzzle article gives you a thorough comparison between the Telecaster and Stratocaster based on their sound, playability, looks, and other components.
Rockers Need Their Weapons Too!
Renowned musician David Gilmour of Pink Floyd used his preferred custom Strat to record the now legendary track, "Comfortably Numb". As for the Telecaster, Jimmy Page, who is otherwise known to prefer the Gibson Les Paul, used it in a lot of his early work with Led Zeppelin, including the classic "Stairway to Heaven".

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!

THE STRATOCASTER

Design

Fender Stratocaster
Along with Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares, Leo Fender designed the Stratocaster model in 1954. It is a double-cutaway guitar that made accessing the higher frets easier, along with an extended headstock that improved the overall balance. Its sleek design has a "beer gut" curve on its upper back and a gradual chamber in the front, which makes playing the guitar for long hours a comfortable experience.
It has a one-piece, adjustable maplewood neck with a dog-leg style and highly playable fingerboard.
It has 3 single-coil pickup that is controlled by a 5-way pickup selector that improved the switching ability along with multiple tonal combinations.
The pickguard has a single ply, 8-screw hole that holds all the important electronic elements in one place, with the exception of the jack plate.
The bridge flat is attached to the body with five springs.
The strings are held in place through a body-pivot bridge with springs in the tremolo cavity, which is attached on the back of the guitar body.
A new reverse-polarity pickup was introduced in 1977, which is essentially the winding of the wire around the bobbin in the opposite direction of the two other pickups. The positions are 2 and 4 on the selector switch.
The plastic parts of the Strat are made from an experimental thermoplastic.

THE TELECASTER

Design

It was designed by Leo Fender and Clayton Orr Kauffman with designs dating back to 1850. It was initially called the "Esquire" and had a single pickup, which became the "Broadcaster with two pickups. Finally, it was remodeled and renamed the Telecaster in 1951.
It is the world's first commercial, mass-produced, solid body, single-cutaway guitar.
The body is made from a single slab, giving it a simple yet sleek design.
It has a celluloid pickguard that is secured by 8 screws.
It has 2 single-coil pickups with a 3-way selector switch, one volume knob, and one tone knob.
The neck was bolted on and not glued unlike many other designs of that time, and the frets (22 frets) were simply slid directly from the side, making a separate fretboard redundant.
The truss rod made at the headstock end, and rosewood fingerboard make adjustments easy.
A twin pickup switching system was added in 1967, a neck pickup along with tone control in 1st position, both pickups with tone control in 2nd position, and bridge pickup with tone control in 3rd position.
The long screws of the saddle bridge allow it to be used in a wide range of positions that helped with intonation tuning.

MAIN DIFFERENCES

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.

Stratocaster
Telecaster
Body

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.

Neck

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.

Hardware

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.

Sound

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.

STRATOCASTER STATISTICS

Famous Players
List of Signature Models
  1. Eric Clapton
  2. John Mayer
  3. Jeff Beck
  4. Yngwie Malmsteen
  5. Mark Knopfler
  6. Eric Johnson
  7. Buddy Guy
  8. Dave Gilmour
  9. Dave Murray
  10. Jimi Hendrix
  11. Eddie Van Halen
  12. Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • 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.

TELECASTER STATISTICS

Famous Players
List of Signature Models
  1. James Burton
  2. Waylon Jennings
  3. John 5
  4. Muddy Waters
  5. Jim Root
  6. GE Smith
  7. Merle Haggard
  8. Albert Collin
  9. Danny Gatton
  10. Brent Mason
  11. Will Ray
  12. Jim Adkins
  • 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, WHICH IS BETTER?

After all the discussion, it does come down to your preferred style of choice. If you are looking for a sleeker design with more options in tonal quality, playability, and pickup combinations, then the Fender Stratocaster is what you are looking for.

On the other hand, if you want a classic design with adjustable options, a more distinctive sound quality, and cleaner tone, the Fender Telecaster is the answer to your needs!

So go out there, maybe try them both, and let us know which is one is your rock and roll weapon!
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