Twangy as heck—even without the Bigsby. Jangly, even, and airy mid-forward voice. Superb neck-pickup tones.
No Bigsby-less option for getting ’60s-spec model. Jazzmaster-style saddles rob some Tele spank. Pale coloration on pao ferro fretboard.
Fender Vintera ’60s Telecaster Bigsby
Vintera ’60s Telecaster BigsbyThere have been phases in my life when I considered a Bigsby-equipped ’60s Telecaster the ideal electric guitar. Even though the clunky, contraption-y Bigsby can be an odd match for Zen perfection of the Telecaster’s lines (on some days it looks to me like someone glued motorcycle parts to the top), the expressive utility of having one of the greatest-ever vibrato systems mated to one of the greatest-ever electric solidbodies more than offsets challenges to my aesthetic sense. In fact, the Bigsby makes the Vintera ’60s Telecaster that much more addictive. And you start to hear music in your head just by looking at it—primarily Alessandro Alessandroni and Steve Cropper riff duels punctuated by surfy vibrato dives and wooly soul-chord melodies.
The sunburst finish and mint pickguard are a lovely pairing—looking dessert delicious, like a dish of crème brûlée with cream on top—and the honey hues of the aged maple neck and headstock are a perfect complement. On our review guitar at least, you can see why some players have lamented the move to pao ferro from rosewood for Vintera-series fretboards: Our specimen had a particularly pale complexion. That said, the pao ferro fretboard on the Vintera ’60s Modified we had on hand for comparison was much darker, and it’s hard to imagine that a few years of gigging and hand oil won’t find this fretboard turning a darker, more seasoned shade. The neck itself feels authentically ’60s, with just a bit more mass and bump in the curve than modern-C necks. It’s an excellent alternative for anyone that finds the slimmer, flatter combination of a modern-C and 9.5" too slim and flat, or the ’50s U-profile too fat. (And should you start to obsess about a more curvaceous radius choking your bends, just remember that Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, and thousands of other players managed to get pretty freaking bendy on 7.25"-radius fretboards.)
The neck pickup will please anyone put off by the mellow output of the Vintera ’50s pickup. The 7.5k-ohm, alnico 5 unit is actually wound hotter than the 6.9k-ohm bridge unit and feels punchy, immediate, and responsive to pick dynamics. But it’s also softened by a very balanced low-mid presence that yields Stratocaster neck-pickup overtones (this guitar rules for Hendrix/Mayfield-style balladry) and sounds dreamy through a Fender combo amp dripping with spring reverb. Add a little Bigsby wobble to the recipe and the results are positively heart swelling.
The alnico 5 bridge pickup is less mid-scooped than a ’50s bridge pickup. It’s jangly and, not coincidentally, a lovely match for a scooped and ’verb-y mid-’60s blackface combo. But the output of both pickups is almost certainly colored by the Bigsby and the Jazzmaster-style saddles and bridge. The improved intonation you can achieve with these saddles is a real plus. But the bridge is much less conducive to the sustain you associate with a Telecaster and seems to rob the pickups of some low-end mass. How this tone recipe fits in your style is a matter of preference. As a regular player of Jazzmasters, Jaguars, and Rickenbackers, this general tone profile suits my worldview perfectly. More heavy rock-centric players may dig it less. One thing is for certain, the Vintera ’60s Telecaster twangs like a mother. If you’re after Don Rich’s low-E string “thwack,” it’s here by the bucketful.
Watch the First Look: