Buyers Guide To The Telecaster Body

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Justin

There may be a plethora of reasons one would buy a Telecaster body. You may want to build a custom guitar. Or, you may need to replace your original body due to damage or disaster.

Because just like cars, guitars have accidents too. Whatever your reason may be there is definitely an option out there that will suit your needs. We will discuss and guide you through everything you need to know about buying a replacement.

Not only will we guide you but we’ll also discuss some of the options and things to look for when buying one.

Refer to the table below which compares the various Telecaster bodies on the market. If you do not understand what each heading means, there is an explanation for each heading below the table.

BrandWoodColorFinishBridge StyleF-Hole (thinline)Pickup ConfigurationPrice
Original Fender AlderOlympic WhitePolyester-Gloss FinishVintage Bridge MountNoSSClick Here For Price
Original FenderAlderCandy Apple RedPolyester-GlossVintage Bridge MountedNoSSClick Here For Price
Original FenderAlderTri-Color SunburstUrethane GlossModern BridgeNoSSHClick Here For Price
Made In USA (brand Unknown)PoplarUnfinishedUnfinishedModern or Vintage Bridge FriendlyNoSSClick Here For Price
Mighty MiteSwamp AshGreen (Seafoam)Not StatedModern or Vintage FriendlyNoSSClick Here For Price
Made In USA (brand unknown)Hardwood AshNatural (No color)No Finish Modern or Vintage FriendlyYesSSClick Here For Price
Made In USA (Brand Unknown)PoplarBlueFlower FinishedModern or Vintage Bridge FriendlyNoSSClick Here For Price
Original FenderNatural AshNatural (no color)Urethane-GlossModern Bridge MountingNoSSHClick Here For Price

Brief History Of The Telecaster

Mr. Leo Fender, the founder, and creator of Fender guitars and amps. Although Mr. Leo Fender was not a guitarist himself he was determined the pursuit creating the perfect electric guitar.

The first guitar that Leo Fender built was the Fender Esquire in the 1950s which became the Telecaster as we know it today. Many guitarists say that with Fender’s first attempt at building an electric guitar they got it right.

While you may agree or disagree with the above, the fact is that the Telecaster is one of the most popular guitars at the moment and has been one of the most popular guitars used by rockstars throughout the decades.

If you are interested in this article about Telecaster bodies, you might want to read our article on buying Telecaster’s necks

Choosing The Wood

The wood out of which the body is made has an exceptionally large impact on the price in which you can expect to pay. The type of wood also has an impact on the overall sound of the guitar once it has been set up.

Some woods you can expect to buy (As seen in order by the images below):

  • Ash
  • Alder
  • Poplar
  • Swamp Ash

Choosing The Color

You can buy a body that has already been painted and finished. Alternatively, you can buy one unfinished and decide to paint it your own custom color. Or leave it with a natural finish.

Even if you buy a body that has a color you’re not too fond of, you can have it resprayed to a color that you want. The options are endless when it comes to color finishes.

Original Fender Body Vs. Replacement

If you are in need of a telecaster body you should ask yourself the question. Do you want an original Fender or a generic one?

The genuine Fender Tele body commands more money than one would expect however you can purchase perfectly decent generic telecaster bodies that will serve the same purpose.

It is better to focus one’s attention on the type of wood. Instead of worrying about the originality or brand. Unless of course, it is a vintage guitar in which case, the original would make a lot of sense.

Modern or Vintage Bridge Mounting

This is an important factor to consider when buying. Some bodies are routed for vintage-style bridge mounting while others are routed for modern-style bridges.

Vintage Style Telecaster Bridge

  1.  The vintage-style Telecaster bridge has 3 saddles. Each saddle holds two strings. This means that two strings share a saddle
  2. The bridge has curved edges which create what is referred to as the “Ashtray” bridge.
    1. This is due to the fact that the Telecaster came with an ashtray-like cover for the bridge

Modern Style Bridge

  1. The Modern Telecaster bridge has six individual saddles. this means each string has its own saddle, unlike the vintage bridge which shared saddles.
  2. The Modern bridge has no edges and is completely flat making palm muting and strumming easier

There is no right or wrong style bridge to use, at the end of the day it comes down to personal preference.

However, if you do not know which one to buy, we suggest the modern-style bridge as it should have better tuning stability. Watch the video below to see the difference between the two bridges in action.

Pickup Configuration

Most telecaster bodies are designed for a SS pickup configuration (the SS stands for two single coils) as this is the original pickup config. However many guitarists love the shape of the guitar.

But do not care for the pickup configuration. Therefore they are telecaster bodies that have been designed to fit certain or multiple pickup configurations. These include:

  1. SS – two single coil pickups. One in the bridge and one in the neck
  2. SH – One single coil pickup and one humbucker pickup (either can be fitted in the neck or bridge)
  3. SSH – This is the modern telecaster pickup configuration and sometimes the Nashville Tele setup. Three pickups
    1. The single coil in the neck
    2. A single coil in the Middle
    3. A humbucker in the bridge
  4. HH – This configuration features two humbuckers or wide-range pickups. The telecaster deluxe is an example of this pickup setup.

Telecaster Body With F-hole

It is important to note that the Telecaster comes in a second body type. This second body type is the same shape as the regular body. however, it has an F-hole hollowed out. This is referred to as the Thinline. The thin line body can be configured to:

  • Two Single Coils
  • Two Wide range humbuckers

If you enjoyed this article, check out our post on the BYO telecaster kits