Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'72 Reissue Telecaster Thinline Daphne Blue

This is the guitar I thought I always wanted. Maybe I should end the story with just that one line. It says a lot, especially given the theme of this site. You already know I don't own it any longer. So, if it's the guitar I thought I always wanted, why is it a goner?

I should start with why it's the guitar I always wanted. First and foremost I'm a Tele guy. I've always loved Telecasters. My first decent electric was a Tele, bought in Tulsa, OK from Larry Briggs before he became the "Texas Guitar Shows" guy. He used to have a little dirty, musty smelling guitar store called Strings West that I used to go wander around in and just marvel at what was stacked up on top of each other and crammed into corners and hidden behind other weird stuff. There was actually a pawn shop next door that specialized in guitar gear too, but when it came time to buy a guitar, I went to see Larry. I picked out a MINT 1974 Telecaster that was see through yellowish blonde with a white pick guard. After handing me the guitar the phone rang. Larry sat on the phone with the customer the whole time I was deciding whether or not to pay $400 for the guitar. I finally nodded to him, indicating I'd take it. He turned back to the phone and said, "Well, he's going to buy it. I'll keep my eye out for another one. Thanks Billy." Turns out it was Billy Squier on the phone. Thus began my long love affair with Telecasters.

Somewhere along the line, once I moved to San Diego way back in 1987, I ended up in a little shop that was attached to a rehearsal studio complex.

The guy had some great guitars and many years later we found out that about 95% of them were stolen.

He was taking them in for repairs at another location and them selling them at this other shop. Anyway, one night he had an early '70s sunburst Telecaster Thinline with the white mother of pearl pickguard. I messed around with that guitar for a long time and ended up with a thing for Thinlines. I just love the F-hole and it kind of fit right in with a sort of western aesthetic that I like in guitars.

Over time I also became a big fan of the Fender custom color Sonic Blue. So, fast forward to about 2002, and Fender announces a limited edition of custom color '69 and '72 Reissue Thinlines to be made in Mexico. There was a Daphne Blue, Lake Placid Blue, Candy Apple Red, Surf Green and Shell Pink. Well, Daphne Blue is really close to Sonic Blue and I figured this was as close as I was going to get. Most people wouldn't know the difference anyway...I mean how many people you work with would know the difference between Sonic Blue and Daphne Blue or would even know what the hell you're talking about at all. You guitar weirdo freak.

So, I buy the guitar off a guy on eBay and it's supposedly new and mint. It arrived packed fairly well in the gig bag it's supposed to come with. I pull the guitar out and there are two large chips in the back of the guitar. Inside the gig bag are two large chips of paint. Like puzzle pieces. I emailed the guy and he had no explanation...and no offer of a refund. What I learned by examining those chips is how THICK the paint job was on this guitar. It also seemed really heavy for a Thinline. I've owned a few previously, including a '74 natural wood with two humbuckers and a '71 custom color black with standard single coils (MAN! I wish I had that one back). So, I know when a Thinline feels heavy. It was one of those guitars you just never connect with and you know is doomed from the start. It also really made me think twice (but not three times) about buying guitars on you can't hold in your hands and play and fall in love with or know that they are heavy and thick painted and sound marginal at best.

I hung onto it for as long as I could. But eventually reality set in that ignoring this guitar was not going to make it sound or feel any better. I finally took the photos you see here and listed it back on eBay and sold it for about what I paid. It's not a guitar I wish I had back, but I do think it would be nice to have a good Sonic Blue Telecaster Thinline...made in the custom shop with maybe a light relic to it. Now that would be nice.


G L Wilson said...

I think the snob in me would have been put off straightaway by the words "Made in Mexico". I wouldn't ever buy another Mexican Fender. They seem to be competently made but are severely lacking in any mojo.

Japanese Fenders, however, are another matter... Love them!

I too love Thinlines. I've been dreaming about a Thinline equipped with a Bigsby for years.

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

I used to be really against the Mexican Fenders, but they seem to have really stepped them up in the last couple of years. I think you have to be pretty picky though. A friend of mine got a Roadhouse Strat that was really sweet, had a good vibe and sounded great. Another friend got a "friend of a friend" tour of the Mexico factory and said it's basically exactly the same stuff as what's coming out of the USA factory.

But, like you said, Japanese Fenders are another matter. They are my favorite. I would choose them over USA any day.

Right now my only electric is a '70s Epiphone Crestwood that I really like, but I can see that at some point I'm going to need to find a way to get another Thinline. Another guitar, another story.

Keith said...

I have a 10 year old Mexican Tele that's absolutely brilliant. Tone's beautiful, the guitar feels like a Tele should (that is, capable to beat out an exit path for you if you pick the wrong song), and the finish is nice, too.

scott said...

I've got the twin to this guitar, only mine's light weight, plays great and sounds like a million bucks. I rotate guitars around every week - strats, traditional teles, a 335, a LP Junior, but I almost ALWAYS bring the Daphne Blue Thinline Reissue. It's super versitile.
Lots of the Mex reissues are crap, but this one rocks.
-Scotty, Phoenix

Anonymous said...

MOJO is in the player. I bought my daughter a shell pink MIM thinline and it is outstanding. I pick it up as much as any of my Stats and, frankly never touch my LPs anymore. I'd buy another in a heartbeat. ALL guitars need setup and need to be fundamentally sound but after a certain point, let's face it, we're playing the amp as much as the guitar...which one contributes what part of the feel is kind of moot. The bias against Mex guitars is understandable when it comes to machine heads, pickups, pots, etc. But those parts can be swapped out in a flash. I do the same to my US made guitars, too. Heck, I put Grovers on my '57 Les Paul. The purists scream but at least the stupid thing tunes up properly.

Anonymous said...

Hey I love MIM Telecasters. No bias here. I have two right now and the both sound fantastic. This guitar just didn't ever have any feel at all. Yeah, maybe part my fault, but I don't seem to have any problem working up a little mojo with most of my other guitars. Sometimes you just don't click with a guitar no matter how hard you want to. -- Jaimie

Chris said...

I first saw this exact daphne blue telecaster back 7 or so years ago. Because I love telecasters and that color I bought it on line from a dealer in Wisconsin I believe.

I can say this: right out of the box it was and is one of the most beautiful-looking guitars, and everyone who sees it says the same. I mean everyone. I live in NYC and when I've taken it out or to shops for a setup I get offers to buy it.

But that's not all. The supposedly cheap neck pickup from Mexico sounded so round and unique- it was one of the greatest sounding clean guitars I've heard. I replace the bridge with a Seymour Duncan and man it sounds incredible. This is all in addition to the perfect neck and light weight mahogany body.

The clincher for me was this. I was at the famous Village Vanguard to see Bill Frisell, Paul Motian and Ron Carter. Guess what guitar Bill was playing? Yep, that daphne blue, Mexican-made tele. I asked him about it. He told me he has tons ox expensive electrics, but he likes this one the best of all of them. Only thing he did was replace the pickups.

The thing about these guitars is that they are best played lightly and with no effects in my opinion. I play mine through an original 1965 Fender Vibrolux Reverb amp in mint condition. The sounds these two things produce are amazing and it is always possible to discover new sounds. You have to finesse it and coax out of it whatever it wants to show you. I know it sounds nuts, but many great players will tell you that. What's so great is that it's not hard with this guitar. I don't know about the other thinlines, but this one is worth way more than it's original dollar value.