||Download Example 1
Bridge pickup, Tone and Volume at 10
||Download Example 2
Middle position, both pickups in parallel, Tone and Volume at 10
||Download Example 3
Neck pickup, Tone and Volume at 10
|Clips recorded through a TomasZewicz 35112 Amp, Lava Cables, and Sony PCM-D-50 Recorder.
Go ahead, look again—your eyes do
not deceive you. Yes, that is a V-shape
body paired with the handsome, classic
appointments of an early-’60s Telecaster
Custom, faded to what looks like period-correct
patina. Could this be the result of a
clandestine meeting between Ted McCarty
and Leo Fender years ago? Well, not exactly.
Aptly named the TeeVee Custom, the
integration of these two timeless designs
is the brainchild of Roy Bowen and Scott
Leedy, owners of RS Guitarworks, based in
The roots of RS Guitarworks can be
traced back to 1994 when woodworker
and musician Leedy moved to Winchester
and forged a friendship with fellow woodworker
and guitarist Bowen, who was a
seasoned repairman for a local Fender repair
shop. They shared a passion for vintage
guitars—particularly an interest in the
components that made certain examples of
these instruments special. Two years later,
they set up shop in Bowen’s basement offering
repairs, vintage restorations, custom
projects, and distressing jobs. RS has since
grown into a full-service shop occupying a
large, newly built facility with a staff of six.
RS still offers repairs, restoration services,
and custom builds, and has also generated a
substantial following for its aged parts and
electronics upgrade kits, but with guitars
like the TeeVee, the company is fast establishing
a reputation for building top-shelf
A Touch of Vintage
If you didn’t know better, you would swear
that the TeeVee Custom was a vintage
guitar. The aging of the finish, hardware,
and overall appearance is nicely executed.
The TeeVee even smells old. Consisting of
a few dings and some checking and worming
that look pretty authentic, the played-but-loved distressing treatment is tasteful
and not overdone.
The guitar is finished with a proprietary
blend of three different nitrocellulose
lacquers, and I particularly like the aged,
3-tone sunburst finish with its receding
brown and red hues that actually appear
more vivid on the back of the guitar than
the front—not unlike a guitar that spent
years sitting in a sunny music store window.
And the yellowed cream binding,
aged 3-ply mint-green pickguard, and aged
nickel hardware add to the instrument’s
convincing vintage aura.
Weighing in at a comfortable 7
pounds, 1 ounce, the TeeVee Custom stays
close to its Telecaster Custom inspiration
with a center seam, non-contoured,
2-piece alder body and a bolt-on, 1-piece
maple neck with a dark rosewood fretboard.
The 25 1/2" -scale neck has a 10"
fretboard radius and is affixed to the body
at the 16th fret, which enables excellent
The neck carve, which RS calls the
“63C,” is inspired by the shape of Bowen’s
favorite 1964 Stratocaster that has a
C-shaped tapered carve measuring .835"
at the 1st fret and .960" at the 12th fret.
(Other carves are available.) And on the
back of the neck, the worn satin finish
combined with rolled fretboard edges
gives the TeeVee a super-silky feel. The
neck is topped off with the compact RS
Guitarworks Tele-esque headstock that
features aged nickel TonePros Kluson-style
tuners. The fretboard sports a 1 5/8" Tusq
nut and is capped with 21 polished 6105
nickel-silver frets. The TeeVee’s clay-dot
fret markers contrast nicely with the
dark rosewood ’board. True to its vintage
specifications, the single-action truss rod
is accessed by removing the neck—not
the most convenient setup, but true to the
The guitar has a pair of proprietary,
vintage-voiced Lindy Fralin RS 60 staggered
single-coils that feature alnico 5
bar magnets. The nickel-covered neck
pickup is wound hotter than the bridge
pickup (these aged pickups spec at 7k and
The electronics and hardware reflect
exacting standards and an eye for vintage
realism and high quality. The TeeVee has
a low-profile RS-stamped Glendale Bridge
(with its treble side ground down), compensated
aluminum saddles, a 280 kΩ RS
Superpot for volume, and a CTS tone pot.
All the parts are aged, and, where possible,
conform to period-correct specifications.
The builders at RS even dye the guitar’s
cloth-covered wiring to match the instrument’s
Perhaps my only real qualm with the
instrument’s design is the location of the
Tele-type control plate on the V shaped
body, which places the volume knob a
bit closer to the bridge than I’d like, and
right in the path of my picking hand
when I’m strumming.
Care Translates to Tone
The high degree of craftsmanship on the
TeeVee Custom translates into an instrument
that has exceptional playability and
offers a wide range of sounds on tap. The
lightweight, resonant guitar sounded great
before I even plugged it into the blackface
Fender Bandmaster and TomasZewicz
35112 amps I used for this review.
The combination of alder body and
rosewood fretboard works well with the
spanky Fralin pickups to emphasize the
lower midrange. In general, the tone seems
somewhat more muscular and less bright
than a typical Telecaster, but there’s still
plenty of traditional snap and twang on
tap if you need it. The bridge pickup is not
overly bright, and the tone control has a
really broad range that enabled me to move
from brighter Tom Petty-like rock tones to
darker and more aggressive sounds.
The folks at RS and Fralin devoted a lot
of time to designing these pickups, and the
attention to detail is evident in their sound.
The hotter neck pickup was a pleasant surprise,
featuring a clear, harmonically rich
color that’s perfect for single-note passages
or fingerpicking. And the middle position
(pickups in parallel) also offered up some
truly funk-worthy textures that were simultaneously
fat and chiming with a trace of
out-of-phase quack. In any setting, the Fralin
pickups are impressive, consistently delivering
sweet, balanced sounds in both clean and
high-gain applications. The TeeVee Custom
has enough sonic variety to adapt to virtually
any musical style—just like a good Tele.
With its quality components and meticulous
craftsmanship, the TeeVee custom
stands out as a top-notch player’s tool, and
its unique synthesis of Tele and V designs
and relic’d look make the RS TeeVee a real
showstopper onstage. But the icing on the
cake is the TeeVee’s full-bodied, muscular
tones and silky playability. This combination
makes the TeeVee a professional-level
instrument fit for a guitarist who doesn’t
mind a bit of flash.
you’re looking for vintage Tele tone
in a more individual-looking guitar,
and you’re not a wallflower.
the integration of the two classic
designs doesn’t resonate with you,
and you like a Tele-sounding guitar
to look like one too.