When I acquire any used guitars for stock I have to consider a few factors – Is it saleable – Can I make a profit on it – Is it desirable and as such hopefully it will sell fairly quickly – How does it feel, play and sound – Is it original – Does it need any attention regarding any faults or repairs – Does it fit in with the existing stock profile – And I dare say other factors come into play – So how does this Fender 1976 Tele with original case fit into the equation
The Fender company went through a number of changes in the late 60’s and early 70’s – Production levels had seriously increased, which resulted in many changes and somewhat of a hit ‘n’ miss policy regarding the final product – The Bean counting accountants had arrived to influence how such corporate companies should be run – The days of CNC had not yet arrived, to improve production costs and deliver a more accurate build, that could be delivered on a regular basis – As such, many will throw a host of negatives towards Fender Guitars produced in the 70’s – To be fair, the Tele never went through the whole re-build and design stage that was a hallmark of 70’s Strats – The Tele still retained a 4 bolt neck plate, with the truss rod adjustment still at the body end of the neck – But even so there were production changes to the 1970’s Tele, that differed from models from the pre CBS glory days – Furthermore it is fair to say that not all 70’s Fender were indeed good or bad – Hunt around a bit and you can find examples of both – So what influenced me to buy this Tele was A) it was a very clean and all original example, with no issues and still included the original hard shell case and B) Whilst it had a touch more weight than I’d prefer, it was a decent player – Overall no bad news stories to tell, but plenty of character and a guitar that is now 43 years old, so in no particular order let me list a host of details and info regarding this 1976 Fender Tele :-
- All original – no changes, repairs – Even includes the ‘ash tray’ bridge cover
- Includes the deluxe Fender case – black vinyl covering with bound leather ends + dark burgundy interior – The case is equally in good order with a decent handle + locks that function – The case alone would sell for a good price, either on my own web site, or the likes of Reverb
- Off white/blonde finish – remove the scratch plate and you can quickly see how it has faded and mellowed
- Condition wise :- You can see from the web site pics there is some paint wear on the top corner of the body – From the right forearm – It reveals the grain of the ash body – Honest playing wear so they say – Otherwise it is in very good condition – Additional surface grazes are slight – Nothing nasty or untoward – So used with a played in character, but nothing approaching abused
- Clean frets
- Whole guitar weighs 9lbs and 12oz – Heavier than some – Lighter than others – But effectively a hall mark as such of Fenders from this period/era
- Decent neck/pocket join, with no gaps worthy of a mention between the neck + body
- One piece maple neck – hence the skunk stripe on the rear of the neck
- Oval C neck profile – measures .869″ around the top nut end and .921″ around the 12th fret – Medium Fender depth – Touch more meat at the top nut end, but around the 12th fret, .921″ is par for the course of an early 60’s model
- Original hardware – include steel saddles with dedicated groove for each string
- 1976 saw the re-introduction of a black pickguard
- Original wiring loom – 137-76 pot info so CTS and 1976 – includes treble bleed cap on the volume pot
- Original pick-ups – includes plate on bridge pick-up – Neck measures 6.97K and bridge measures 6.13K
Set-up + Playing experience :- I now sell so many new and used Fender Custom Shop models based on pre-CBS glory day models – Most of these have larger frets, on a 9.5″ fingerboard radius – So with a set of 10’s they allow for a slick easy action, with effortless string bending – In my opinion, 10-46 gauge strings on such a guitar, as this 76 Tele, with vintage frets and a 7.25″ radius, ensures string bending is far less slick – A fluid action is still possible, but it is not so easy regarding string bending – Therefore I have re-strung and set up this Tele with a set of 9-46 gauge strings – Still plenty of depth on the low wound strings, so you get some meat from those big chords and riffs, plus walking bass lines – It allows for a sensible low action without any rattle – But the 9, 11 and 16 gauge plain strings are far easier to bend and control – As such it makes the whole playing experience far more comfortable – Granted it is a matter of taste and opinion, therefore I can adjust and set-up as required, but well worth checking out this set-up before hand
Tonal Character :- Part of me says ‘do I even need to go there’ ? – A key point I feel is can I leave the amp alone and control it from the guitar ? On clean amp settings you might tweak the volume pot a touch as required, but here I’m looking for some variation from the tone pot, to allow me to drop into the chilled out jazz lounge from time to time – So from laid back, to funky chops and those country pickin’ licks, I found this Tele offered good variations and options – Now add some gain on the amp – Start of with a more subtle approach, that will be fine for Muddy Water style blues etc – The bridge pick-up offers a musical bite and twang – With the volume + tone pots on full, it can be more ‘fierce’, so back off just a touch for more of a controlled voice – On the neck pick-up I look for that BB King ‘The Thrill Has Gone’ laid back vibe, then try some nice jazz flavoured blues chords along the lines of Robben Ford – By utilising the volume pot on the Tele you can clean up the amp, as required, until you find that sweet spot – Now add more gain on the amp and a maintain a similar approach, which allows you to control the level of gain – Tweak the volume pot and subtle but effective variations are audible, from a smooth softer voice, to more of a punky full on vibe – Think Wilko Johnson – As such leaving the Tele pots on full is effective but doesn’t show the guitars full potential – Additional soul, expression and emotion is delivered via the Tele’s pots
The weight of the guitar won’t please everyone, but it is a characteristic of many Teles from this era – But it is a very good and clean example that now has its own heritage and stories to tell
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Every guitar in stock at Guitars4You has been personally selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention paid to the set-up and playing performance – Every sale, phone call, mail order transaction or e-mail is handled my me – Mark Hopkin, the owner, Managing Director, cleaner and coffee maker (Jo, my wife helps with the coffee) – A journey, now in excess of 40 years, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars – This reflects in every aspect of our business.
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