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 Melodyful 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.
|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.
|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
|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
|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.
List of Signature Models
- Eric Clapton
- John Mayer
- Jeff Beck
- Yngwie Malmsteen
- Mark Knopfler
- Eric Johnson
- Buddy Guy
- Dave Gilmour
- Dave Murray
- Jimi Hendrix
- Eddie Van Halen
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
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.
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.
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.
He is a lead guitarist of U2, who is known for his melodies and use of delay.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A heartthrob for many, he uses the guitar in a versatile manner under various genres. A signature model is produced under his name.
List of Signature Models
- James Burton
- Waylon Jennings
- John 5
- Muddy Waters
- Jim Root
- GE Smith
- Merle Haggard
- Albert Collin
- Danny Gatton
- Brent Mason
- Will Ray
- Jim Adkins
Member of Radiohead who used the guitar with an added cutoff switch.
Used the Tele in her performances with The Pretenders, a guitar which made its appearance on their album cover for Get Close.
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.
Heavy metal guitarist who is known for his shredding, he has a signature model in his name.
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.
His controversial sound was created using this model, and was included in his fame 1966 tour of Europe and Australia.
A legendary musician, he molded blues and rock together, and used a ’57 Telecaster. A signature series was produced in his name.
Member of The Rolling Stones, he used a ’53 model named “Micawber” with 5-string open G and a humbucker located near the neck.
Of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame, he uses both the Strat and the Tele.
A member of The Clash who made the guitar famous in the punk scene.
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 one is your rock and roll weapon!