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DVD Review: "Leo Fender's Telecaster - The Original Twang"

A documentary on the Telecaster and its impact on modern music

Leo Fender’s Telecaster – The Original Twang
Headstock Productions, Ltd

Consider this the prequel to the recent Strat Masters documentary about the Strat’s creation and impact on modern music. Made by the same production company, Leo Fender’s Telecaster traces the legacy of the guitar that started it all and remains a go-to choice for many players today. Interviewees include Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Steve Cropper, James Burton, G.E. Smith, John 5, Seymour Duncan, and several other players, historians and Fender employees. They talk about, play, and romanticize the almighty Telecaster for two hours and 39 minutes.

Highlights include Fender historian Richard Smith giving down-to-the-last-screw tours of the Esquire, Broadcaster, early Teles, and the instrument’s papa—the Champion lap steel. Other notable moments include Jerry Donahue breaking down the three-saddles-vs.-6-saddles debate and explaining what’s going on behind the Tele’s famous intonation/tuning issue known as “major 3rd syndrome.”

Some viewers may tire of the DVD’s meandering focus in the second half, the somewhat gritty production, and the inclusion of lesser-known players who end up getting more face time than Beck, Richards, and Cropper. Some purists will also question the decision to spend a bit of time with players who are known for using Tele-inspired instruments made by other manufacturers. Regardless, gearheads who simply cannot get enough Tele history will be in heaven watching this DVD. How exactly did Leo nail it right off the bat? No other documentary has ever gone so deep in an effort to answer that question.