Fender Chrissie Hynde Telecaster Review: A stylish and toneful Tele with plenty of attitude
The Pretenders star joins forces with Fender to create a signature model based on her stage and studio favourite. Is it worth shelling out for, or should you keep your brass in your pocket?
There may be some confusion about Chrissie Hynde’s favourite Telecaster. Her guitar tech seems to think it’s a 1961 model – or at least the body is. Fender’s promotional material for this signature model suggests it has a 1965 neck, and photos of the original appear to show a rosewood veneer fretboard with celluloid marker dots and a spaghetti logo. Chrissie’s original may be something of a mongrel, then, but it’s been her number one since she purchased it many years ago and it’s been lovingly recreated for this new signature model made in Fender’s Ensenada facility on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
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The features here are indicative of a vintage guitar that has been tweaked for stability and practicality on the road. Six stainless steel saddles combine with Fender-branded locking tuners and there are a pair of string trees. Although the lacquer finish is described as ‘Road Worn’, the Fade Ice Blue Metallic body and tinted maple neck are immaculate. Distress is confined to the metal parts – the buttons of the locking tuners excepted – and it’s all been very subtly and tastefully done.
The overall vibe is one of a guitar that begs to be picked up and played. There’s no fancy wiring, just CTS potentiometers with neck/both/bridge switching and a ceramic tone capacitor. The pickups are Fender’s Vintage-Style ’50s units and, just like Hynde’s original, the bridge pickup has staggered slugs. Case candy includes a custom strap and a sheriff’s badge, the latter apparently being a reference to her favourite cowboy movie, Appaloosa.
Unusually for a 1965-style neck, our review model features a slab rosewood fingerboard and the profile feels far slimmer than we would expect. Somewhere between a C and a very subtle V, it’s not exactly a vintage carve but it’s a delight to play and we feel an instantaneous bond. If this is an accurate clone of the neck on Chrissie’s guitar, perhaps hers has a slightly unusual profile for its year, or was later finessed by a skilled luthier.
Either way, this is an exceptionally comfortable and easy playing instrument, with tremendous balance and a vintage-style lightness that no doubt contributes to the impressive resonance. And despite a set up that’s in keeping with Chrissie’s avowed vocation as a rhythm guitarist, the 7.25-inch radius is no impediment to lead playing.
On the bridge pickup you get the slightly percussive but full jangle that differentiates 1960s Teles with staggered slugs from the flat-slugged 1950s variety. Note separation and balance are superb and we can almost hear a natural chorus effect as we pick through chords.
The low-profile switch tip makes it tricky to flip pickups in a hurry, but at least you’re less likely to hit it by accident. That said, it’s worth the effort because the neck pickup has a fluty smoothness and plenty of clarity and treble. And it may be the chromed scratchplate combining with the cover, but it’s almost completely noise-free.
The middle position hollows out the midrange and introduces a wiry quack for another fascinating sonic texture. Of course, you can simply bang it onto the back pickup and strum away to your heart’s content, but this can be a far more versatile and sophisticated guitar too. Far more than just a metal pickguard and a paint job, a lot of thought and effort has gone into this signature instrument and the result is a fabulous Telecaster that’s hard to fault.
- PRICE £1,249 (inc hardshell case)
- DESCRIPTION Solidbody electric guitar, made in Mexico
- BUILD Alder body with bolt-on maple neck, 7.25” radius rosewood slab fingerboard, 21 vintage tall frets, synthetic bone nut
- HARDWARE Hardtail bridge with 6 stainless steel saddles, deluxe cast/sealed locking tuners
- ELECTRONICS 2x Fender Vintage-Style 50s single-coil pickups, master volume and tone controls, 3-way pickup selector
- SCALE LENGTH 25.5”/648mm
- NECK WIDTH 41.8mm at nut, 51.4mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 19.8mm at first fret, 23.2mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 35.2mm at nut, 54mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 7.31lb/3.32kg
- LEFT HANDERS No
- FINISH Faded Ice Blue Metallic Road Worn nitrocellulose lacquer
- CONTACT fender.com