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Review: Fender Select Telecaster

The following content is related to the May 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Fender’s Select Series guitars are designed for players who want instruments with more upscale materials and features than Fender’s standard instruments but still retain that distinctive Fender vibe. Select Series appointments include figured tonewood bodies and necks, specially voiced pickups, resonant lacquer finishes, and lighter body weight to enhance dynamics and response.

As a result, Fender Select guitars sound as beautiful as they look, offering the appeal of a custom instrument at a considerably more affordable price. I looked at the Fender Select Carved Koa Top Telecaster and Select Carved Maple Top Telecaster, which offer similar features but different body materials.


The koa and maple tops on these Select Series Teles are carved to a gentle arch and glued to bodies made of empress, a lightweight wood cultivated in Asia. The Koa Tele has a flame maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, while the Maple Tele’s specs list a flame maple neck and fingerboard, although our example had bird’s-eye figuring. Both models have 25 1/2–inch-scale necks with a modern C profile, 22 frets, a 9 1/2–to–14-inch compound radius, and Bi-Flex truss rod that keeps the figured necks stable and rock solid. Both models also have Fender Select Telecaster pickups with chrome covers in the neck position and an uncovered Fender Select Telecaster pickup at the bridge. Controls include the standard master volume and a master no-load tone control along with a three-position blade pickup selector. The bridge is a modern flat, stamped brass plate with bent steel saddles.


The Select Telecasters’ beauty is more than skin deep, providing the refined feel and comfortable playability of a handcrafted instrument, and a tonal palette that’s broader than Fender’s American Standard and American Vintage Teles. Thanks to the body materials and pickups, the midrange is more assertive, the treble is slightly rolled off without losing the Tele’s characteristic snap and twang, and individual notes have more weight and smoother sustain. The bridge pickup delivers classic Tele chime along with Strat-like snarl, and when you play above the 12th fret, dazzling harmonic overtones resembling an Octavia effect can be coaxed with aggressive pick action.

The attention to detail on both models is impressive, from the flawless finishes to the mirror-like polish of the fretwork. While the overall appearance is simple and understated, with no pickguard covering the gorgeous tonewood tops, elegant touches like the F-logo tuners and an embedded Select Series medallion on the back of the headstock add a touch of class.

List Price $3,499.99

Manufacturer Fender,

Cheat Sheet

The Select Series offers upscale features, including premium tonewood tops, figured maple necks with Bi-Flex truss rods, and specially voiced Fender Select pickups.

Modern appointments include a compound radius, flat, stamped brass bridge plate, and a no-load tone control that provides pure, unadulterated pickup tone when the volume is maxed.

The Bottom Line

With their gorgeous tonewood tops, warm lacquer finishes, Fender Select pickups and meticulous craftsmanship, Fender Select Telecasters sound and play as elegant as they look.

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Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.