I’m getting a telecaster. I hope on buying one in mid June. However, finding a Tele that’s worth buying and that’s below $1000 has been a little difficult, but after searching I believe I have found one (or two actually) worth having. Meet the American Special Telecaster, and the Baja Telecaster. Both are very well made at their prices, and quite frankly, they’re steals! But I just can’t seem choose one! They’re the same price, and they’re both Tele’s, but they have strong differences.
The most obvious difference is looks. The Baja Tele looks great, sporting both Desert Sand and Blonde finishes (Personally, I prefer the latter). The American Special, however, is a little more bland in the looks department to me. The white finish is nice and I’m sure the Sunburst is nice too, but I’m just not as wowed by it. You just can’t beat the classic Blonde look.
The Baja is based on vintage Tele’s but has modern features that make it stand out. It has a four-way switch and some more tone options with it’s knobs, giving the Baja 6 distinct tones, rather than a standard 3 found in most Tele’s. The American Special doesn’t have that, but it has two Texas Special pickups, giving it more output than the Baja. It also has a “Greasebucket” tone knob; the Greasebucket rolls off the highs without adding bass, which sounds much better than most tone knobs I’ve heard. When you get right down to it, the AS has a tone knob that I would actually use, while the Baja seems to have features that I probably wouldn’t use. The As has won this round with it’s simplicity.
One thing about the Baja that bothers me is that it’s made in Mexico. The American Special (as it’s name suggests) are made in the US. Why does this matter? Well, I’ve heard in multiple reliable reviews that the Baja isn’t without it’s faults. The weight isn’t uniformed (as in one Baja might be noticeably heavier, while another Baja might be on the lighter side) and don’t have shielding. This means that I would have to do more digging than usual to find a Baja of good quality, which makes it a gamble to order it over the net. The American Special was meant to be made as a high quality guitar at a modest price, this means that it’s made in the US, and the makers give it more attention when it’s being made.
In the end, while they’re both Telecaster’s, each one has it’s own strength’s and weaknesses, and they are BOTH great guitars. And despite going over they’re differences and watching and rewatching videos of demos on youtube, I’m still an undecided voter. In the end, the most important aspect of a guitar is how they play. I need to play both these guys before deciding to buy one. Now… who wants to give me a lift to Guitar Center? :)