Summer NAMM gave us a great selection of new products, including what we’re here to talk about today: the new, 2016 Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster, from their updated Mexican Deluxe Series; a range which also includes a new batch of Roadhouse Strats, Thinline Telecasters and Deluxe Stratocasters, with their HSS partners in crime.
Looking at the specs of the Deluxe Nashville Tele, you get the impression that it is designed to be a workhorse guitar for gigs and studio sessions, and the classic Telecaster components have given way to a more modern set of hardware with just those purposes in mind.
So, does it work? Let’s get on with this 2016 Fender Nashville Telecaster review…
The new 2016 Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster Review
Opening the box, the first pleasant surprise is being met with the sight of not a guitar, but a gig bag. When you’ve bought an instrument that comes in (at time of writing) at £709, a fair level above a Standard Series Tele, it’s nice to have a proper Fender gig bag included. And it’s a nice enough gig bag at that. It might not be a Mono M80 gig bag, but nor is it a wafer-thin, water-soluble bag that does little more than add a handle to your guitar. I’d be happy to use it to keep this baby safe on the way to and from gigs, even through the infamous Edinburgh drizzle.
Unzipping that gig bag revealed one of the most beautiful finishes ever applied to an electric guitar: the stunning Daphne blue. I’ve always liked this finish on Strats, but on a Tele it seems to look even better, particularly when teamed up with that rosewood neck and a 3-ply mint green pickguard. Prefer maple ‘boards? Then then the white blonde and sunburst finishes are for you, or grab a replacement neck!
Looking at the rest of the specs, you get deluxe locking tuners, Vintage Noiseless pickups – with a Strat pickup in the middle and a 5-way selector switch – a six-saddle bridge, 22 narrow-tall frets and a fretboard with a 12″ radius atop a modern C-shape neck. Something else that makes an appearance on the new Nashville Telecaster is an extra bit of rounding at the neck heel – that we saw on the Elite Series instruments – making that top-end access a bit easier.
So, all in all, a set of specifications that sound like the recipe for a versatile gigging guitar. Anything missing? Well, as you can see, this isn’t designed to be an authentic vintage-styled Telecaster. So, Fender, why persist with the recessed jack socket that means you can’t use a right-angle cable?! And, if I’m being picky, I would have preferred a 9.5″ radius fingerboard or why not go for a compound radius?
Also, while you now get the added sounds of that Strat middle pickup, along with those funky position 2 and 4 sounds, part of me would have liked an S1 switch to kick in the bridge pickup on all positions; sometimes you want the neck and bridge pickups together, not a pickup that happens to be in the middle.
To finish with a plus though, a cheeky little look under the pickguard revealed a bigger rout for the neck pickup, so popping in that mini humbucker might be a useful wee mod if anyone were to be so inclined. And there’s me with one that had been destined for another project. Hmmm…
Plugging in the new Nashville Telecaster
First, into a Vox AC15. It was a Telecaster alright. Starting at the logical place of the bridge pickup on its own, the new Nashville Tele had all the bright and bite you’d expect. So all doin’ right there, even without a three brass saddle bridge! Into my Marshall DSL15, the story was the same, it’s still a Tele, just with a bit more grunt this time.
Playability-wise, the ‘board was a bit dry out of the box, but some lemon oil and a few hours of playing took care of that. The Nashville ships with 9s, which gave a nice bit of jangle, but after giving those a couple of days’ I popped on a set of 11s ready for a gig in the afternoon; that extra tension gave me a bit more resistance for my sloppy slide playing.
That was actually my first time changing a set of strings on a guitar with locking tuners, and it can’t have taken much more than five minutes; I could get used to these…
At the gig that afternoon, using venue-provided backline, the middle pickup got a lot of use as the bridge pup alone was perhaps a bit too bright through that particular amp. Having the 2 and 4 positions were nice to have though, I was still in the “this is a Tele not a Strat” frame of mind, so I very nearly forgot they were there, but it is nice having a bit more choice there on the guitar, just to mix things up a bit.
Oh, and those Vintage Noiseless pickups didn’t sound half bad either, I had no issues with the tone and they certainly lived up to their ‘noiseless’ tag, with plenty of hum-free sounds despite my standing in a nest of cables on a portable generator-powered stage.
All in all, I was finding my way about the fingerboard without tripping over myself – any more than normal at least – and the neck shape was good and comfy. And that very satin – almost unfinished – but gloriously smooth neck was a joy to move about on. That said, perhaps just one coat of vintage-tint lacquer on the headstock might have set things off a bit more nicely…
But I’m being picky.
Summing up the 2016 Fender Deluxe Nashville Tele
Well, I thought it was brilliant. Do you need more than that? Possibly.
It looks great. It doesn’t look vintage, but it’s still classic Tele. If you’re concerned about the aesthetics, you can always swap out the bridge, and, if it bothers you, you might well find that the middle pickup is hidden under your hand when you’re playing anyway, so I wouldn’t worry about that; the Nashville looks awesome.
The non-vintage specs continue with the tuners, but they do make changing strings an absolute breeze. If you break a string in the first verse on stage, there’s a good chance – if you have the appropriate spare to hand – you’ll be back in 6-string territory by the 2nd chorus.
Having spent a good amount of time with this guitar, I really am sold. If you’re a vintage Tele enthusiast, it might not be for you – unless you already have that box ticked in your collection – but, while the basic form may not have changed since the middle of the last century, the 2016 Nashville Telecaster is a modern guitar.
I love it.
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