Saturday, May 8

Squier Classic Vibe 50's Telecaster

Ok, so after like a year of never being able to find one of these in a Guitar Center (a.k.a., the devil), I've found two in two different ones over the last week. This is extremely exciting for me, even though I have a fantastic Tele in my ASAT, and even though there's no way, musically or economically, I could justify owning two Telecasters at this moment, I just had to try it out. There's been a lot of internet hype about this particular guitar, so I figured I'd add to it.

First, I saw the one I really like; the original one they came out with, in a vintage white with a black pickguard. I believe that it differs from the newer model, which is sunburst with an alder body and a rosewood fretboard, by having a pine body and maple fretboard. I was in the South County Guitar Center (here in STL, we like to descriminate based on where you live. I live in prestigious West County, where the wine flows and every other area looks upon us and dreams. I only go to South County to do missionary work, and to teach the indigenous peoples the ways of culture and grace and civility. Also, I work there.) and I saw it, and so I did what came naturally; I plugged straight into a Blues Jr., this being the time of day when all Guitar Centers are quiet (around 1 p.m. during the school year), and I felt alive. So alive that I didn't think to do a side-by-side comparison with, say, a '52 reissue Tele, which is the same sort of feel that Fender has been trying to cop with the Classic Vibe series. But I did get one of the workers to ask me to turn down. At a Guitar Center? I was playing tasteful rhythm with a divine set of tools. How dare thee! I could have been ripping it up with Crazy Train 10 times in a row, like every other day in Guitar Center. I guess they don't like good music.

Anyway, about a week passes, and I find myself once again at a Guitar Center, this time in North County (where I have also been known to conduct works of charity. Also, my grandma lives up there.) and they had the other CV Tele; at the time, I couldn't remember what distinguished them, but I like Telecasters, so I wasn't too picky. As I had a lot of free time, I thought things out a bit more, but I couldn't find a RI Tele in the store that day, so I settled with another sort of standard, the American.

The issue I have, looking back, is that there's really nothing to distinguish the two at this point, other than electronics. The cool think about the blonde Tele is that it's made out of pine, and you can really hear something special in the tone. This alder version, it was certainly different from an American Standard tele, but not really in any way that I would say was better or worse. Noticeable right off the bat, the CV was significantly louder. The pickups seemed to be at a good height on each guitar, so it would lead me to believe that the CV's pickups are hotter than the American. The CV was a lot more unfocused, so while turning it down a bit gave you back some clarity, the tone remained a bit all over the place and messy. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. I've been thinking about guitar tone a lot lately (as usual), and I'm coming to find a lot of value in that sort of broken-in-half, messy, falling apart kind of tone. Like a good fuzz pedal, or an amp that's breaking up. Or me, before God. Tight and focused is great if you're in control, but I find myself, when really praying, just falling apart, so there's a sort of beauty in a guitar that's a little all over the place. Not sloppy, and not poorly played, but almost like the guitar itself can't help but tremble before God. That's ridiculous. That's where I'm at right now.

Which makes a nice segue into something I discovered on Thursday night: I will always* play electric in sandals, because it makes it easy to turn certain knobs on my pedalboard with my foot in a controlled way. The certain knobs I speak of would be the drive knob on a Tubescreamer, or maybe the repeat knob on a delay. I was playing How He Loves for the youth group kids on Thursday, leading from electric, and I felt compelled to end with the chorus by cutting out the rest of the band, doing some arpeggio work and turning the repeats up on the delay (that has of course been going the entire song) so that it just starts to feedback, then fading back out. I love delay.

Anyway, back to the review. Love. Love love. I don't need another Tele. If you do, get one, but try out both, because they are different. I prefer the blonde one (though my first and only mod would be to swap out the black pickguard for a white one, because I think that looks boss), and you might too, but the newer, sun-bursted model is not without it's charms. Biggest charm: $350 new. A 52RI tele will cost at least $1600 new. The Classic Vibe line is just great in sound and, honestly, in build quality, so as long as you don't mind having a big Squier logo on your headstock (which, let's be honest, we've all been that guy, and some, like me, still kind of are), you're getting an amazing tone-to-dollar ratio. If you don't have a Tele, now you don't really have a good excuse to not have one. I already have one. I'm considering getting another. If I had a wife, she'd kill me.

*probably not always.


  1. Awesome post. Love the line about prayer being more about us falling apart before God than coming together. About to get one of these CV50's for a steal-- I have a similar board to yours and am wondering how it holds up when pedaled up with comp, OD, delay and reverb. Is it too thin sounding? Or does it have a nice clean sparkle like a tele should?

  2. Hey, sorry, just saw this! It's awesome. Awesome, awesome guitar. It sounds like a Tele in pretty much every way, and it can definitely get you the nice, thick Tele growl when you're looking for it. I moved on to a slightly nicer Tele just because I had the opportunity, but I wouldn't think twice about making this my main guitar; it's that great of a guitar.