10 best Tele-style electric guitars (2023)

Ever since it launched in its original Esquire and Broadcaster incarnations, the Telecaster body style has inspired guitarists of all genres – from country to punk to classic rock to avant-garde-noise-jazz, it’s hard to think of a style of guitar playing that doesn’t feature any T-type players at all.

  • READ MORE: The best guitar pedals to buy in 2022: 17 best reverb pedals

While the classic take on the Telecaster itself is notoriously versatile, its design has inspired many guitar makers to give the formula a twist of their own, each geared towards a specific type of player.

What to look for when buying a Telecaster?

The phrase T-type usually denotes two things – a flat-topped single-cut design, and/or an electronics layout mimicking that of the original. Traditional-leaning T-styles will often sport dual single-coil pickups, alongside a three-way blade switch and master volume/tone controls housed in a metal control plate.


More modern-leaning designs might be fitted with humbuckers instead, mimicking the 70s Telecaster Deluxe’s control layout (which itself takes some cues from a certain other singlecut’s electronics), and some might even abandon the scratchplate-centred construction entirely for a sleeker, minimalist look. Compared to their S-type siblings, T-style guitars are also more likely to sport hardtailed bridges rather than vibratos, but there are always exceptions.

The best T-types at a glance:

  • Fender Player Plus Nashville Telecaster
  • Schecter PT Fastback
  • Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster
  • G&L Tribute Asat
  • Squier Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster
  • Chapman ML3 Pro Modern
  • Fender American Professional II Tele Deluxe
  • Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 2 24 HH
  • Maybach Teleman
  • Manson MBM-1
  • Suhr Classic T
  • James Trussart Deluxe Steelcaster

Fender Player Plus Nashville Telecaster

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (1)

+ Extra-versatile electronics
+ Affordable given the featureset and build quality
– Modern build might not be for you

The Fender Player Plus Nashville Telecaster takes a fairly modern take on a standard Telecaster and adds in a Stratocaster-style middle pickup. This massively expands out its tonal palette – especially with the addition of a push/pull tone control that adds in the neck pickup to positions one and two, meaning you can get full-sounding, Strat-like cleans.

The Player Plus’ standard range of features might be a bit divisive, however – these are guitars designed for the modern-minded player. The fretboard radius is a rather flat 12 inches, which might turn off those who prefer a more curved, vintage-correct board. However, the slim-C profile and rolled fretboard edges will likely be very comfortable no matter your preferences – unless you need a baseball bat neck.


Similarly, the single-coils are also noiseless, making them an excellent choice for cranking up the gain. Some players dislike the sound of noiseless single-coils, or just don’t mind the hum, but for others, they’ll make this Tele even more versatile than most.

Price: $1,129.99 / £849
Build: Alder body with bolt-on maple neck, 22-fret 12-inch radius maple fretboard
Hardware: Six-saddle string-through hardtail, locking tuners
Electronics: Player Plus Noiseless Tele (bridge and neck) and Strat (middle) pickups, five-way blade selector switch, volume, tone (middle and neck), push/pull bridge tone (adds neck pickup to positions one and two)
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Read our full review here.

Schecter PT Fastback

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (2)

+ Best of both worlds for Telecaster Deluxe and Les Paul fans
+ Ergonomic touches to build quality
– Classic T-style sounds a bit harder to conjure

The PT Fastback is Schecter’s own take on the Tele Deluxe-style T-type, with a fairly standard layout – two humbuckers, and a Les Paul-style control arrangement. That is, a volume and tone for each pickup.

What’s different? Well, the pickups here are Schecter’s UltraTrons, a powerful take on the Broad’Tron or Filter’Tron style of humbucker. Construction materials are also a left-turn: there’s a mahogany body, and a block-inlaid ebony fretboard. So on the Telecaster-Les Paul spectrum, the PT fastback leans a little closer to the Les Paul end, but still puts its own spin on the format with its choice of pickups.

There are a few interesting ergonomic touches, too – most notably the forearm carve on the top of the body, alongside a slight carve in the neck heel to help upper-fret playing.

Price: $699 / £649
Build: Mahogany body, bolt-on maple neck and bond ebony fretboard with 14-inch radius
Hardware: Six-saddle hardtail bridge, Grover non-locking tuners
Electronics: Two Schecter Diamond UltraTron humbuckers, individual volume / tone controls, push-pull tone pots for coil-splitting, three-way switch
Scale Length: 25.5”/648mm

Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (3)

+ No-surprises vintage approach
+ Affordable
– Modern-minding players might find vintage-correct build a little unwieldy

The Vintera range is a great midway point – if you’ve got a little more than Squier money in your guitar budget, but still want to keep things under control, the Vintera 50s Telecaster is a great option. Given the decade in the name, this entry is best for those wanting a classic Telecaster feel and sound. There’s a pair of vintage-voiced Tele pickups to that end, and a three-brass-saddle hardtail bridge.

The fretting hand is where the guitar’s classic approach will be felt more than heard. The neck has a 50s U-shaped profile, and the fretboard has a vintage-correct 7.25-inch radius. While this doesn’t mean big bends are out of the question, the guitar won’t take to a lower-action shred setup as well as something like the flatter-radiused Player Plus Nashville Telecaster. However, we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that if you’re intrigued by a guitar with ‘50s’ in the model name, a speedy shred setup isn’t what you’re after.

Price: $1,199.99 / £729
Build: Alder boy with bolt-on maple neck and fretboard, 7.25-inch fretboard radius with 21 frets
Hardware: three-brass-barrel saddle hardtail, Vintage-style tuning machines
Electronics: Two Fender revoiced 50s Telecaster single-coils
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Read our full review here.

G&L Tribute ASAT Classic

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (4)

+ Great-sounding electronics
+ Excellent bridge design
– Doesn’t bring anything massively new to the table

ASAT design was Leo Fender’s own update to his Telecaster format. A number of classic features meet modern convenience – for instance, the bridge has brass barrel saddles for a classic Telecaster sound, however it has six of them rather than three for better per-string intonation.

This affordable Tribute version features two made-in-California G&L MFD single coils, a medium-C profile maple neck and a medium 9-inch radius fretboard. Aesthetically, the guitar is pretty true to its roots, but for those looking for a Leo Fender-approved take on the timeless Tele, that’s no bad thing.

Price: $589.99 / £349
Build: Poplar or sassafras body (depending on finish), bolt-on maple neck with 9.5-inch radius and 22 frets.
Hardware: six-barrel-saddle bridge, G&L tuners
Electronics: Two G&L MFD single coils, three-position pickup selector, volume and tone controls
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Squier Classic Vibe 60s Telecaster Thinline

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (5)

+ Wallet-friendly price tag
+ Authentic vintage appointments
– Unless you’re into it, the semi-hollow build is prone to feedback

Squier’s Classic Vibe range is, across the board, excellent value for money, and the Thinline Telecaster is no exception to that rule. Most notable here is of course the semi-hollow construction with an F-hole on the body’s upper wing – leading to a lighter feel across the board, and even chimier, resonant sound.

Construction specifications are a nice mid-point between painstakingly vintage-correct and ultra-modern – the 9.5-inch radius fingerboard isn’t overly flat nor overly curved, the C-shaped neck isn’t a gigantic hand filler but it also offers some resistance for those who need a neck to actually grab onto rather than something ultra-slim and speedy.

Additionally, if single-coils aren’t your style, there’s the equally semi-hollow and comparatively-priced 70s Telecaster Thinline, fitted with a pair of wide-range humbuckers.

Price: $489.99 / £339
Build: Basswood body, set-through neck with 13.77-inch radius roasted maple fretboard, 22 jumbo stainless-steel frets
Hardware: String-through hardtail bridge, Hipshot Grip-Lock Open tuners
Electronics: Seymour Duncan Pegasus humbucker (bridge) & Sentient Humbucker (neck), 5-way Super Switch with coil-split, volume, tone
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Chapman ML3 Pro Modern

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (6)

+ Set neck for stability and high upper-fret access
+ Versatile pickups
– Metal-focused specs not for everyone

Chapman’s ML3 Pro Modern aims for ultra-high performance at a reasonable price-tag. Unusually for this list, there’s a set-neck rather than a bolt-on – and while Telecaster purists might miss that bolt-on snappiness, this is more a guitar designed for the modern rock and metal player than it is for any Telecaster purists.

The set neck means that access to all 24 frets is a breeze, and the Seymour Duncan pickups are the moderately-wound Sentient and Pegasus. While they’re not as flaming hot as some metal-focused pickups, the more restrained output comes with some extra versatility at lower gain levels. Another Chapman-specific twist here comes in the form of a judiciously-carved top, a good ergonomic touch for the more enthusiastic player.

Price: $1,099 / £849
Build: Basswood body with roasted maple neck, 13.5” fretboard radius and 24 jumbo stainless steel frets
Hardware: Chapman String-Through bridge, Hipshot Grip-Lock open tuners
Electronics: Seymour Duncan Sentient humbucker, Seymour Duncan Pegasus humbucker, master volume/tone knob and 5-way blade switch
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Read our full review here.

Fender American Professional II Tele Deluxe

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (7)

+ Modern update to the classic Deluxe format
+ Tonnes of ergonomic touches added
– Some players might prefer a more traditional feel

Despite the 1970s origins of the Telecaster Deluxe, The American Professional II take on the guitar is distinctly forward-thinking – the ergonomic carves have been deepened to make playing even easier, and the neck is supremely comfy, in part due to its sleek satin finish.

The bridge is a point of interest, too – while there’s only three brass-barrel saddles, they’re intonation-compensated. The raised sides of the bridge also make

Electronics consist of a pair of V-Mod II DoubleTap humbuckers, which take after wide range humbuckers but aren’t as, well, wide. These are wired in a standard Telecaster Deluxe format, meaning individual volume and tone controls for each pickup.

Overall, the guitar is a sleek refinement of the Tele Deluxe platform, one that doesn’t completely overhaul it into a modern shredder, but certainly updates it to the standards of the 2020s.

Price: $1,749.99 / £1,629
Build: Alder body with bolt-on maple neck, 9.5-inch radius rosewood fretboard with 22 frets
Hardware: Three-saddle hardtail bridge with intonated brass barrel saddles, standard Fender staggered tuners
Electronics: Two V-Mod II Double Tap humbuckers, individual volume and tone controls.
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Read our full review here.

Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 2 24 2PT HH

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (8)

+ High performance specs throughout
+ Fishman pickups are hugely versatile
– Clear rock and metal focus not for everyone

The latest iteration of Charvel’s So-Cal Style 2 is an interesting update to the rock and metal-focused T-type. Most notably, there’s a vibrato – something fairly rare in the world of Tele-alikes. It’s still a standard two-point vibrato rather than something like a Floyd Rose, however, the shred-keen might have already noticed the 24 frets that the instrument comes equipped with, deepening the lower cutaway rather dramatically to allow for full fretboard access.

The modern-focused features continue with the graphite-reinforced maple neck, topped with a compound-radius 12-16-inch fretboard. Electronics come in the form of two Fishman Fluence Open Core PRF-COC humbuckers – these have Fishman’s proprietary voice-switching tech, meaning you can toggle between PAF-style vintage clarity and pummelling high output instantly.

Price: $1,099.99 / £899
Build: Ash body with bolt-on graphite-reinforced maple neck, 12-16-inch radius caramelised maple fretboard with 24 frets
Hardware: Gotoh Custom 510 vibrato bridge, sealed die-cast locking tuners.
Electronics: Two Fishman Fluence Open Core Classic active humbuckers, three-way blade selector switch, voice selector switch, Graph Tech TUSQ XL nut
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Maybach Teleman

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (9)

+ Warmly voiced pickups
+ Locking tuners
– 7.25”-radius fretboard not for everyone

“Twang” is the calling card of this T-style from Maybach. Decidedly vintage in spec, the T54 has a string-through sugar pine body, maple neck, a 7.25-inch-radius maple fretboard, and a single-ply pickguard. The single-coil pickups, though, bear some modern influence: they’re Amber Twangtones designed to prevent the assertive tone typical of traditional Teles from being too harsh on the ears. Non-locking Gotoh SDS-510 tuners are the only piece of modern hardware on this otherwise proudly old-school take on the T-style electric.

Price: $1,579/£1,469
Build: Sugar pine body with maple neck & 7.25”-radius maple fretboard.
Hardware: Aged nickel Maybach three-saddle bridge, Gotoh SDS-510 machineheads Electronics: 2x Amber Twangtone single coils, 3-way blade switch, master volume, master tone
Scale Length: 25.5”/648mm

Manson MBM-1

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (10)

+ Heavy, powerful tones on tap
+ Killswitch is interesting if you like it, discrete if you don’t
– Not for those looking for classic T-type tones

The Manson x Cort collaboration that is the MBM-1 sports a very stripped-down design, with a minimalist, pickguard-less front, loaded with two fairly aggressive humbuckers. A Tune-O-Matic-style bridge isn’t very common in T-types, but it’ll provide familiar ground for those used to palm-muted chugging on Gibson-styled instruments

There’s also the interesting addition of a kill-button on the top horn for some interesting spluttery, glitchy effects, which, combined with the aggressive humbuckers, make this an easy road to distorted chaos. It’s also affordably-priced, costing a reasonable £569.

Price: $756/£569
Build: Basswood body, bolt-on maple neck, 12-16” compound radius Indian laurel fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets and synthetic nut
Hardware: Staggered locking tuners, tune-o-matic bridge and stoptail Electronics: 2x Manson humbuckers, master volume and tone, 3-way pickup selector switch, kill button Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Read our full review here.

Suhr Classic T

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (11)

+ Clear, but not biting, voice
+ Noiseless pickup circuitry
– Very traditional, perhaps too much for some

Suhr’s Classic T has all the hallmarks you’d expect from a T-style. It features a 60s C Vintage Standard neck profile and is available in four retrolicious finishes: Two-Tone Tobacco Burst, Trans Butterscotch, Trans White and Vintage Natural.

The axe derives its tone from two Suhr Classic T single-coils which boast alnico V ‘Special’ magnets. The Neck ‘T’ is designed to dial in clarity and warmth, while the bridge ‘T’ serves up recognisable Tele twang and bite without piercing highs.

Price: $2,799/£2,449
Build: Swamp Ash body with 60’s C Vintage Standard maple neck, 9″-12″ compound-radius maple fretboard
Hardware: Suhr locking tuners, Wilkinson 3-saddle bridge Electronics: 2x Classic T single coils, master volume, master tone, 3-way switch, Suhr Silent Single Coil System II
Scale Length: 25.5”/648mm

James Trussart Deluxe Steelcaster

10 best Tele-style electric guitars (12)

+ Innovative design
+ Incredibly responsive and articulate voice
– Pricey

If you’ve encountered thinline T-style guitars before and think you know what to expect here, think again. Through a blackface-style clean amp, you’ll get a gorgeous mixture of Tele-like clarity and old hollowbody depth, but plug into an overdriving Vox or tweed and you’ll immediately appreciate how gloriously alive this guitar feels – at stage volume, it’s almost like grasping with a giant pickup as every physical noise is amplified. There’s a lot of sustain, too, and no shortage of range from the Arcane pickups. Note however, that this premium guitar may cause your bank account to break out in a cold sweat.

Price: $6,046/ £4,550
Build: Hollow steel body with f-hole and perforated back, bolt-on ’62 profile maple neck with 9-inch radius rosewood fingerboard, 21 narrow-tall 6105 frets
Hardware: Kluson vintage-style tuners, 3-saddle vintage ‘ashtray’ bridge with treble side shaved down for player comfort
Electronics: Arcane Inc bridge single coil and neck humbucker, three-way blade pickup selector switch, master volume, master tone, pull tone control for coil-split
Scale Length: 25.5” / 648mm

Read our full review here.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated: 09/29/2022

Views: 5421

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.