How to play guitar in 3 diverse Fender Telecaster styles

Fender Telecaster
(Image credit: Future / Joby Sessions & Olly Curtis)

The Telecaster was one of the earliest electric guitar designs to come from Leo Fender’s Fullerton plant back in 1950.  

Originally spec'd with a lone bridge position single-coil pickup and called the Esquire, it would soon receive its neck pickup and change of name – first to Broadcaster, then, following objections from Gretsch, who felt it too similar to their Broadkaster drum kit, to Telecaster. 

A small number of interim models were made with no name on the headstock, earning themselves the ‘Nocaster’ nomenclature.  

Here, we’re looking at some classic Tele tones and techniques. Don’t worry if you don’t own the guitar in question. There’s plenty to learn, whatever you play...


(Image credit: Future)

Finding favour with country guitarists from its very first iteration through to the present day, the Telecaster has been seen in the hands of James Burton, Danny Gatton, Brent Mason, Brad Paisley and so many more, well, it’s almost an essential item! Select a bright bridge single-coil pickup for our typical lead lick.

Hard rock rhythm guitar

(Image credit: Future)

Perhaps it’s the simplicity and durability of the Tele that has bestowed upon it the reputation of a guitar that can take a beating. Try our tab example inspired by Status Quo’s Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, and Joe Strummer of The Clash.

Miyavi slap-bass style

(Image credit: Future)

Japanese guitarist Miyavi dishes out a fair beating to his “cyborg” Tele too, but using a raft of trademark slap techniques more associated with funk style bass. 

Use the side of your thumb to slap the sixth string (instead of picking) and pluck the fifth with your first finger so it pops back against the fretboard.

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Total Guitar editors

Total Guitar is one of Europe's biggest guitar magazines. With lessons to suit players of all levels, TG's world-class tuition is friendly, accessible and jargon-free, whether you want to brush up on your technique or improve your music theory knowledge. We also talk to the biggest names in the world of guitar – from interviews with all-time greats like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen to our behind the scenes Rig Tour features, we get you up close with the guitarists that matter to you.