Against the Blue Wall – Fender Telecaster Bass for the Modern Player Series

First, I have to say, this is going to be the last Against the Blue Wall, because I am moving apartments. I am still going to look at gear it just won’t be against this specific Blue Wall.

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to post this but a while ago I changed basses. If you look back into my postings I had a Schecter devil bass. It was a fine bass but mainly I wasn’t a big fan of the active pickups. I found I was just setting it to one setting and then leaving it. Heavy, very little treble or pop. It was also clearly a metal bass. It had these “tribal” markings on it. It was definitely a step up from my old Ibanez GIO but not everything I wanted. However, I believe the Ibanez GIO basses are the best beginner basses, if you want to spend less than $200 on one.

So I ended up trading it in for a Fender Telecaster bass. I know, it’s all teles with me. I had been eying a Gretsch hollow body bass, but ultimately the solid body suits me better.

I have gotten to like the Fender basses a lot more. For some reason I was always drawn to the Ibanez style basses in the past. I think I liked the simplicity of the design more. However, after playing through a few Gibsons and Epiphones, Squires and Fenders, some more Schecters and Warwicks and some acoustic basses , I decided on the telecaster bass. It’s in the modern player series, so it is imagining of a bass from the past that never existed, but it works. This one specifically has a really cool pickguard. I think Fender has come out with some of the coolest looking guitars and basses in the past few years. I am still waiting on the voyager because when that hits the shelf I am getting one. Basically, the reason I ended up getting it was that I liked the feel of the neck, the controls are really straight forward, I liked the tone and it has some cool humbuckers in it. I am also a fan of the butterscotch blonde finish.

One thing I really like on this bass as opposed Fender’s guitars is the neck has a high gloss finish all the way around it. I am not a fast bass player so maybe that’s why it isn’t in my way. I tried a few standard and American jazz and p basses, but this one just felt the best. That is one thing that the internet can never replicate, trying out basses and guitars in a store. It makes all the difference in the world.

Some of the features on this bass:

-20 Frets (the Schecter had 24, but I never went past 14)

-34” Scale (the Schecter was an extra long scale, it was more annoying that I thought it would be to find strings)

– open gear tuners-  I am super happy with these. I at first didn’t like the Key style of the tuners and I would always go for the wishbone shaped ones. Maybe it was just time but now I think they look pretty cool. These thing hold the tuning really well.

-2 Humbucker pickups – I think this is the most salient part. Almost all Fender basses have single coils so this one definitely stands out.

-2 volumes and 1 tone – This is all I need. Maybe I love this simple configuration because I never took the time to really play around with the active pickups. At this point though I don’t really care why I like but I do.

So the one thing I did change was the knobs. It comes with these lightweight little chrome knurled ones and they don’t feel really solid. So I bought a few P-Bass knobs and put them on. When I look on forums and reviews this is the biggest complaint. So instead of complaining I just swapped them. The saddles are solid I trust them. Anyway, all the other saddles on basses I used before were pretty cheap, so these brass ones sound great. The only other thing I am not so sure about is the nut. It looks kind of unfinished and unattractive but I won’t do anything now unless it cracks or breaks.

I think this is a great bass. Fender calls it an entry level bass and I guess for about $600 it is. I preferred it of the more expensive ones though. I play a lot out bass with others but my main focus is on guitar so that’s why more of my money goes into guitars.

Here are a few photos:

Fender Telecaster Bass - This pic makes it looks really long but it's not.

Fender Telecaster Bass – This pic makes it looks really long but it’s not.

Body Shot

Body Shot

 

Head Shot - the tuners have never slipped on me

Head Shot – the tuners have never slipped on me

 

From a Distance

From a Distance

 

 

 

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Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center

Since I opened up on guitar stores I have to talk about my favorite guitar store of all. Chuck Levin’s in Wheaton, Maryland. Chuck Levin’s has been around forever, and by forever I mean the 1950’s. I have gotten most of my big purchases from Chuck’s. My tele, my taylor and the amp I used to have the Peavy Bandit 112. If you read my blog you know how much I love my telecaster and I like to use my Taylor as a default picture.

Not only do I love supporting local music locations, but I also grew up a few miles away in Maryland and they have the lowest prices. I have seen them under cut craigslist. I don’t have to any comparison shopping. Also their employees have always been nice, which is not the norm. When the Johnny Marr Jaguar came out I wanted to play it immediately, and one day I ended up at Chuck Levins and they actually opened up a new case for me to try out. It was amazing. Also very knowledgeable, these guys have been in business for decades and are always willing to talk about guitars. They also have an extensive PRS section because of that special MD connection.

They also deal with other instruments besides guitar, bass and drums. So if you are in the market for a violin or cello, or maybe a trumpet you can pick one up along with the guitar you are most likely buying. I tried to get into violin, but it was not my destiny.

Here is the link and if you are ever in Wheaton, Maryland stop by. I don’t think they know who I am though.

http://chucklevins.com/

A few items I have gotten there

Telecaster with black pick guard

Telecaster with black pick guard

Taylor against a blue Wall

Taylor DN3

Fretboard Journal

Issue 23 of Fretboard Journal- Gillian Welch on the cover from Fretboardjournal.com

Issue 23 of Fretboard Journal- Gillian Welch on the cover from Fretboardjournal.com

If you are interested in all things guitar (both electric and acoustic), bass, banjo and/or mandolin, I would recommend Fretboard Journal. It is a great magazine and I think the articles and photos are far superior to many other boutique guitar magazines.  They have been publishing for about 6 years now and it’s a quarterly journal. It’s also the only magazine I don’t throw issues away. I’m not a photographer but there is something very down to earth and real about the photos they take. It makes these incredible guitars seem very accessible and tangible. Unlike other magazines that but there rare beauties on a pedestal never to b touched or played and any worthwhile musician knows that instruments were made to played not collected and kept in a display case. That is why Stradivarius violins are still played and rented out to violinists. Sure its Yitzhak Pearlman and Hilary Hahn but still they are being used.

They recently released their fall issue with Gillian Welch on the cover. She is one of the most important women in Folk and Americana music today, and I love it. When I found out about his magazine about a year ago, it really started to motivate me to read about different tone woods and try experimenting with guitar building and modifying. I guess you could say along with Old Crow, Fretboard Journal helped make me the man I am today. It also has opened me up to the wide world of independent luthiers and builders. That may also mean I’ll make my next guitar a small business one rather than a corporate one.

The issues range from $8 to $18 depending on how you buy it, at the stand vs. subscription. This is the only magazine so far that I bought a subscription to the day I saw it. If that isn’t enough to convince you I don’t know what is.

Wonderful magazine, great topics.

Some Girls

Some Girls -1978

Some Girls -1978

The reissue of Some Girls came out yesterday and there is a lot of unreleased material on the bonus CD.

Here is the full list.

Side one

No.         Title       Length

1.            “Miss You”          4:48

2.            “When the Whip Comes Down”                4:20

3.            “Imagination” (Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong)             4:38

4.            “Some Girls”      4:36

5.            “Lies”    3:11

Side two

No.         Title       Length

6.            “Far Away Eyes”               4:24

7.            “Respectable”  3:06

8.            “Before They Make Me Run”     3:25

9.            “Beast of Burden”           4:25

10.          “Shattered”        3:48

Reissue Material

No.         Title       Length

1.            “Claudine”          3:42

2.            “So Young”         3:18

3.            “Do You Think I Really Care?”      4:22

4.            “When You’re Gone” (Ronnie Wood)     3:51

5.            “No Spare Parts”              4:30

6.            “Don’t Be a Stranger”     4:06

7.            “We Had It All” (Troy Seals/Donnie Fritts)             2:54

8.            “Tallahassee Lassie” (Bob Crewe/Frank C. Slay/Frederick A. Picariello)    2:37

9.            “I Love You Too Much”                  3:10

10.          “Keep Up Blues”              4:20

11.          “You Win Again” (Hank Williams)               3:00

12.          “Petrol Blues”    1:35

It’s nice to see a little Ronnie Wood in there and it’s always great to see Hank Williams Sr. anywhere.

This album gave us songs like ‘Shattered’, ‘Beast of Burden’ and my favourite from the album ‘Miss You’. I also think ‘When the Whip Comes Down’ is an excellent song. Shattered and When the Whip Comes Down also really foreshadowed the direction that the Stones were about to take musically, especially with start me up. One thing I notice a lot and it started around this time, Charlie Watts’ drumming style. He is tightening up his playing and his toms. It sounds much more commanding, and can really play against those riffs that Keith is laying down.

This is the first album that came out with Ronnie Wood as a full member who with still playing with The Stones today. Here is a little aside about Ronnie. He played in The Byrds, The Jeff Beck Group and Faces before he joined The Rolling Stones. He replaced Mick Taylor who originally was called in to replace Bryan Jones after his unfortunate death. Ronnie also has a signature guitar from ESP that looks exactly like a telecaster with a humbucker at the bridge.

What do you prefer New Stones? Old Stones? Like both?

CMA Awards 2011

Keith Urban 2011 CMA - Look at that fine Telecaster, just look at it.

Keith Urban 2011 CMA - Look at that fine Telecaster, just look at it.

So based on my recent counts, it looks like heavy metal music is not a good blog topic. That’s fine I got my metal out of the way. Now back to Country. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosted for the 4th year in a row and it was great. Brad and Carrie started off by sing about how Hank Williams Jr. needs to tone down his criticisms of president Obama along with Hank. It started off a little uneasy but quickly turned into a performance based show. This is a much better format of award shows and I think the grammys should take a hint. I don’t know what the Oscars can do but they are also in need of a format change. I want to see who wins but I also don’t want to be bored for 3 hours. Maybe get Ricky Gervaise, who is apparently hosting the Golden Globes again. Also the Mark Twain award for Will Farrell was a well done award show.

I have to say in short, well done country music association.

There are a few things I will take away from the CMA awards.

  1. Reba is always a delight
  2. Taylor Swift from now until 2018 will always win something
  3. Brad Paisley should have won best album
  4. The Band Perry
  5. I don’t like Jason Aldean as much as I thought I did
  6. I like Keith Urban a lot more than I thought I did
  7. That show instrument wise is all teles and acoustics
  8. I like Eric Church

Here is a link to the videos from the show if you need to catch up on it

http://www.cmt.com/cma-awards/videos.jhtml

 

 

Brad Paisley

Right now, I know it seems like this blog is all over the place, guitars, rock music and now I’m throwing in some country music?!?!?! Well it’s about to get a whole lot crazier once I throw in Latin, Bluegrass, Classical, maybe a little hip hop and metal.

I wanted to talk about Brad Paisley here, he is one of my favourite current country stars. I like his songs from the cheesy, funny Cigar Song to the heartbreaking Whiskey Lullaby with Alison Krauss to the real reason I think he is great Nervous Breakdown. He can write a song and he can solo like no one else. I know a lot of shredders turn to metal and play as fast as possible but Brad can craft a solo and play just as fast.

Paisley with his Paisley Guitar

Paisley with his Paisley Guitar

Hey! Look! It’s a telecaster!!

I know I’m a bit late on this but I really like his latest album This is Country Music. It really takes a lot from 70s country music, and even features Alabama and a song called Eastwood. Great album and probably one of my favourite overall albums in country music. I love Westerns and western music and someday soon I going to throw down some Marty Robbins, but until then I put down my top 5 Brad Paisley songs.

I am putting some videos in so you can see the awe.

1. Nervous Breakdown – This is all instrumental but it shows how well Paisley can pick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y-Ipi1dnng

2. Whiskey Lullaby – Very sad and a great song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZbN_nmxAGk&ob=av3e

3. Old Alabama – Featuring Alabama enough said

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDRfrVMrV6Q&ob=av3e

4. Online – Pretty accurate reflection of who you are probably talking to in a chat room

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE6iAjEv9dQ&ob=av3e

5.Throttleneck – another instrumental picking song, it reminds me of ghost riders in the sky. If you don’t

know that song go ahead and look up the Johnny Cash version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kwufHazaTU

On good Morning America; all pictures from Bradpaisley.com

good_morning_america-paisley and alabama

Good Morning America Brad Paisley and Alabama from Brad Paisley.com

Here is a great video of him playing in the White House for Barack Obama on the American Music series they had at the White House.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCvUy540I7o

Telecasters

I can’t believe I have gone this many posts and I have only talked about telecasters once.  The Telecaster was the first guitar I bought where I felt like I really purchased a great guitar. I put so much effort into thinking about and selecting it, and now the research on a guitar is one of my favourite parts of the process.

Deluxe Telecaster

Deluxe Telecaster image from Fender.com

A brief history of the telecaster:

When Leo Fender started he was experimenting with mass producing guitars and solid bodies. He was a loyal country western fan and he wanted to make a guitar that could reach loud volumes and wouldn’t be plagued with the awful feedback that hollow body guitars give when they have a single coil pick up attached. He started out with a prototype of what is now called a Telecaster, but then it was called a broadcaster. Country players loved it and still continue to use it. Leo changed the name because Gretsch guitars had a model called the Broadkaster and so Leo changed the name to Telecaster. However instead of renaming it immediately he scratched of broadcaster and that era of tele production have been called the nocaster. There is a whole lot of reissuing of telecasters since it is the 60th anniversary, and there are tweaks and modifications but mostly the telecaster has remained constant since 1951 when it was released.

Famous Telecaster Players

-Keith Richards (Sometimes he uses a Gibson ES-355 but usually a tele player)

-Merle Haggard (He has one of the nicest custom guitars, although I don’t think they let you play electric in bluegrass)

-Brad Paisley (Has a Paisley pink Tele and it don’t matter, He is my Favourite Country Picker and soloist)

-Andy Summers (I know he is always seen with a red strat like Mark Knopfler but he is a tele man)

-Bruce ”The Boss” Springsteen, butterscotch blonde

-Albert Lee, I think he uses a music man now

-Waylon Jennings, and outlaw with a tele, don’t fuck with him

-Joe Strummer, I will stand by Sandanista!

-Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah

-John 5, Yeah you can use them for metal too

-A whole bunch of other guitarists, who know what’s what

 

Squire Telecaster

Squire Telecaster by Fender Image from Fender.com

 

Features:

-2 single coil pickups ( there are versions with a humbucker at the neck end but If I want a humbucking guitar I wouldn’t buy a tele)

-No contours in the body (that update was left for the Stratocaster)

-Astray Bridge ( Now I know a real tele player will stay true and stick with the ashtray bridge and the 3 saddle. I didn’t do that. I used to play a strat and I like the 6 saddle bridge. This is one of the reasons I got the 2010 updated Telecaster. It’s just the way I like to play)

-3 way Pickup selector (keeping it easy, Bridge, Bridge + Neck and Neck)

Types of Telecasters

  1. Squire- Good starter Tele and if you want to get in to modifications it’s a good one to buy because the biggest variation is in the hardware, rip out those stock pickup and put in some ’52 vintage style ones. It’ll make it sound a hell of a lot nicer. $230
  2. Standard- just like it sounds it’s the baseline tele nothing fancy. Made in Mexico $500
  3. Baja- Still has the old 3 saddle bridge and a great sandy beige finish. It has some nice vintage broadcaster pickups and a little shorter nut width- $800
  4. Road Worn- If you want to look worn out but you don’t want to put the time into it you can opt for a pre worn guitar. I think the fret board feels like sandpaper and the store I tried it at had these rusty strings on, so I didn’t care for it, but they have been getting very popular. $900

 

I know for sure everything from here on is Made in the USA and if that is important to you then you better start here and expect to spend at least $800 and that is all over the guitar universe

 

  1. American Special- Entry level American Made, 3 saddle bridge and Texas special pickups $850
  2. American Standard- This is what I have, it’s hard to distinguish between the subtlety but later on ill share why I chose this one $1000
  3. American Deluxe- A step up from the standard and from what I can tell it always has a cream binding running around the body, and they also put on the noiseless pickups so you don’t get that 60v hum, which depending on the player you may love it or hate it $1700
  4. Custom-sky is the limit and so is the price, probably starts at $2800

 

Telecaster with black pick guard

Telecaster with black pick guard

When I was choosing my tele the thing that stood out to me most was the neck and the fretboard. For the most part they are alder or ash bodies, urethane finish and incrementally better pickup quality. The Fingerboard on the worn I already talked about but the American special wasn’t as fast at the American standard. The frets weren’t as clean and I didn’t like the feel. The Standard and squire necks are similar but they didn’t have the consistency that the American had and I could feel the frets too much when I ran my hand along neck. Three main things about the American standard, low action but not so low it feels like they forgot to put a nut in and the maple frets and fretboard finish. I liked the way it is set up because it was set up correctly. I didn’t have to adjust a thing it was throttleneck right out of the case. The finish makes for a very comfortable play and the frets had a lot of finishing and attention paid to them. Now the American deluxe I probably would have liked as well but it’s a sizeable jump and the telecaster I got was not a floor display. It was straight from Fender.

Now I specifically chose the 6 saddle bridge because I like resting my hand on the side, especially when I am doing some picking. My hand kept getting in the way of the 3 saddle bridge and I kept muting all of the strings. I’m sure I could have changed my style but 12 years of playing. I think I know what I like.

So if you want to buy a telecaster (and there are other tele style guitars) I would go with Fender. I know after buying any expensive item you think, did I just make a good purchase? In this case I would say damn right you did. I have never regretted spending $1000 on a guitar, but I also play every day and it took me 11 years to buy a guitar worth more than a few hundred dollars.

Would you chose a tele over any other guitar? Which tele would you choose?

baja Telecaster

Baja Telecaster image from Fender.com