CuNiFe-driven Wide Range pickups and a 7.25" fretboard radius make this the most period-correct Thinline since the original.
Awesome, alive, and individual Wide Range pickup sounds. Great neck. A 7.25" fretboard radius. Light weight. Period-authentic 1 meg pots.
Taper on 1 meg pots not very nuanced. Less-than-plentiful ash supplies could mean odd grain matches on natural-finish guitars.
Fender American Vintage II '72 Thinline Telecaster
In the 50 years since their big, chrome covers first reflected a hot stage light, Fender’s Seth Lover-designed Wide Range humbuckers have gone from maligned to revered. The guitars built around Wide Range pickups are legends in their own right, too. Keith Richards’ Telecaster Custom is synonymous with the Stones dynamic and adventurous late-70s-to-early-80s period. Scores of punk and indie guitarists made the Telecaster Deluxe a fixture of those scenes. And Jonny Greenwood almost singlehandedly elevated the Starcaster from a curiosity to an object of collector lust. The fourth member of the Wide Range-based guitar family, the ’72 Telecaster Thinline, lived a comparatively low-profile life. Yet it is a practical, streamlined, uniquely stylish, and multifaceted instrument with a truly original voice—qualities that are plain to see, feel, and hear in this new American Vintage II incarnation.
Though the ’72 Thinline re-issue has been a fixture in Fender and Squier lines for years, the pickups in those guitars were mere visual approximations of the Wide Range pickups that made the originals so distinct. But thanks to the introduction of Fender’s new CuNiFe magnet-based Wide Range pickups, the new American Vintage II ’72 Telecaster Thinline now exists in the most vintage-correct guise since the original—right down to the Lover-style Wide Range units, 1 meg potentiometers, and a 7.25" fretboard radius. It’s a lively, exciting, and rich-sounding instrument that spans Fender and Gibson textures while inhabiting a tone world all its own.
Fender '72 American Vintage II Telecaster Thinline Demo | First Look
Of Mashups, Magnets, and Bobbins
Avoiding patent infringement is a powerful driver of invention. When Seth Lover came to Fender from Gibson in the late ’60s, he inherited a directive to create a Gibson-beating humbucker. To do that, he’d need to avoid copying the PAF he’d designed for Gibson. But Lover also had a specific, self-imposed objective: to build a meatier-sounding pickup that retained the fast transient response of Fender single-coils. Lover’s task was like threading a needle. And for a long time, the popular consensus was that the Wide Range experiment failed. But in the intervening years, open minds and ears have proven how versatile, beautiful, and powerful sounding the Wide Range can be. They are also a case study in how a series of small design pivots can yield an unexpected whole.
Structurally speaking, the differences between a Wide Range and a Gibson PAF humbucker are simple but important. In a PAF, steel pole pieces focus a charge from an alnico bar magnet at the pickup’s base. A Wide Range, however, uses adjustable pole pieces as magnets—a design enabled by the use of CuNiFe, a malleable, magnetic alloy of copper, nickel, and iron that can be fashioned into magnetic screws. When Lover designed the Wide Range, CuNiFe was used extensively to manufacture tachometers, speedometers, and other gauges. It was relatively cheap and plentiful. But as gauges increasingly became digital, CuNiFe went increasingly unwanted. Cheap supplies dwindled. Before long, the Wide Range pickup was gone, too.
In the decades since, a lot of great pickup builders debated what makes vintage Wide Range pickups special—and the role CuNiFe magnets play. What is certain is that CuNiFe led Seth Lover to a very interesting series of engineering adaptations. Consider this chain of events: The lower iron content in CuNiFe alloy makes it harder to extract low-end warmth in pickup applications. That necessitates bigger bobbins and more wire turns. The resulting wider spacing between bobbins also means a wider pickup, which, in turn, reads vibrations along a longer expanse of string. Needless to say, there’s much that could account for a Wide Range’s unique voice.
Fender engineer Tim Shaw, who developed the new Wide Range pickups and who dives deep into the minutiae of such matters, asserts that CuNiFe is an indispensable ingredient in a Wide Range’s sonic signature, and a material with very audible and discernible individual properties. “As a designer, we almost never get to work with a completely different magnet family,” Shaw says. “It’s like having a new scale or set of chords to play with. Even when CuNiFe is overdriven, it (retains) definition and a very pleasant and musical top end. That’s been very inspiring to me.”
Though Shaw’s take on the Wide Range essentially sticks to the original formula, he voiced them to accommodate the extreme ranges of what he heard in various vintage specimens. His team made another important decision related to authenticity that pays sonic dividends here by using the 1 meg potentiometers that Fender used in the early ’70s. While folks like Shaw care less for the taper in 1 meg pots (it’s discernibly less smooth), they are perceptibly brighter than 500k pots when the guitar tone and volume are wide open. Some players like the more PAF-like output you get from the 500k pots. Others find that 1 meg pots are key to making Wide Ranges sound distinct and extra alive. After a few days with the American Vintage II version of the ’72 Thinline Telecaster, I’m inclined to align with the latter camp.
Alive and Kicking
Playing the American Vintage II Telecaster Thinline straight into a loud, clean Fender amp, it’s easy to hear how inspired Lover’s vision was. The Thinline’s bridge pickup sounds like a single-coil Telecaster that’s bulked up without adding an ounce of fat. The top end is clear, snappy, and toothy. And while low strings have a sense of enhanced mass when compared to a single-coil Telecaster, they still twang like Bakersfield in a bottle. This harmonic profile means that the ’72 Thinline doesn’t hog up the low- and low-mid range in a mix, but can still drive an amp deliciously and create a sense of extra heft and explosive excitement. The neck pickup, too, balances mass and detail with grace. Both pickups make sounds that I’ve looked for in Les Pauls and could never quite find. I suspect Seth Lover would be tickled.
Fear No Deconstruction
Pickups were not the only deviation from design norms that distinguished the ’72 Thinline. The first Telecaster Thinline, which appeared in 1969, was hatched from the mind by Roger Rossmeisl, who famously designed Rickenbacker’s 300 series guitars, among others, before moving to Fender and conceiving the Coronado, Montego, and the company’s mid-’60s acoustic line. To create the lighter, semi-hollow Thinline, Rossmeisl adopted the construction technique he developed for Rickenbacker: routing acoustic chambers from a solid section of ash, and then capping the back of the guitar with a thinner section of wood. On the new American Vintage II version, the ash body is fashioned from two solid sections of ash glued together at the guitar’s center line. Because boring beetles have endangered ash trees, visually perfect specimens of the wood are in short supply these days. As a consequence, the grain in the two sections that make up our review guitar are less than ideally matched. Still, the natural blonde poly finish is beautiful and marks a lovely visual link between the first blackguard Telecaster and this more deconstructed variation on the form.
The semi-hollow construction of the Thinline yields audible differences, too. Compared to a solid-ash Telecaster, the Thinline sounds much more zingy, resonant, and alive—particularly in the midrange. That difference is also apparent when the guitar is plugged in, and the body’s more resonant characteristics are a great match for the lively Wide Range humbuckers. Together they make the Thinline feel exceptionally responsive and awake.
Fender elected to revisit the company’s 7.25" fretboard radius across the whole American Vintage II line. And, for this reviewer at least, the development is a welcome one. I know flatter radii are appealing to bend-happy players. But when combined with the beautifully rolled edges on this Thinline’s single-piece maple neck and its very late-’60s-feeling C-profile, the more curvaceous radius Thinline feels fast and alluring under the fingers. And while the action felt pretty low, deep bending never resulted in choked or clanking notes. Is 7.25" too curvy for bending? I don’t know. Maybe you should talk to Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour about that. I think it feels fantastic.
The Thinline is a pleasure in other ergonomic respects. The semi-hollow construction makes it relatively light (though the humbuckers probably offset that advantage a touch). And while the volume and tone knobs are situated further away than on a traditional Telecaster or a Stratocaster, the 3-way pickup switch, which is angled in the fashion of a Stratocaster pickup switch, is an inspired move that makes switching a lot more fluid.
In terms of function, sound, and style, time is proving kind to the ’72 Telecaster Thinline. And in this American Vintage II incarnation, the improvements to the Wide Range pickup make the Thinline a very real, appealing, and individual alternative to Gibsons and more canonical Fender sounds as well. Idiosyncrasies specific to the Wide Range pickups and 1meg potentiometer configuration won’t be for everyone. The guitar can sound pretty bright. And I suspect players that just want PAF sounds from a Telecaster will have the same complaints they’ve always had. But for any player that loves the feel of a vintage Fender but is interested in a more distinct, individual palette of sounds, the ’72 Telecaster Thinline is a sweet-playing delight
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Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
Expanding on the innovations of Cort’s original 8-string multiscale, the KX508 Multi-Scale II features an updated okoume body and a specially designed Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker.
The KX508 Multi-Scale II is the second iteration of the eight-string KX508, Cort’s first multi-scale 8-string guitar introduced in 2020. Like its predecessor, the KX508 Multi-Scale II has a visually stunning poplar burl top in a Mariana Blue Burst finish. Beyond its visual appeal, the poplar burl is an ideal tonal complement to Cort’s newly introduced okoume body. Okoume is known for its light weight and ability to improve tonal clarity. It has a tight low-end and highly articulate high-end, which matches the overall sonic characteristics of the KX508 Multi-Scale II. The multi-scale, measuring 26.5 to 28 inches, offers a punchy low end while maintaining a familiar feel and tension on the treble strings, which allows for speedy runs and string-bending. Players have unhindered access to the high frets thanks to the low-scooped heel.
The 5-piece maple and purple heart neck not only provides strength and stability, aided by a spoke nut hotrod truss rod, but a strong and focused sound. The Macassar ebony fingerboard (15.75-inch radius) offers smooth playability along the 24 frets with teardrop inlays. Macassar is an ideal tonewood for high-gain applications because of its ability to cut through a dense mix. At the top of the neck, the 2 7/32-inch nut width (56.5 mm) is surprisingly comfortable for an 8-string guitar and is even suitable for players with smaller hands. The individual hardtail bridge with string-thru-body design results in greatly improved sustain, superb string separation for enhanced articulation, and precise intonation. Deluxe locking machine heads offer reliable tuning as well as easier and quicker string changes.
The Cort Sessions | KX508 Multi Scale II Electric Guitar
MSRP $1699.99 USD
MAP $1199.99 USD
For more information, please visit cortguitars.com.
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.
The Cream Amp is a handmade low-gain overdrive pedal based on the Electra Distortion circuit.
The Cream Amp was designed to deliver full dynamics amp-like dirt to your clean and crunch amp or to another pedal in the chain without altering your tone too much. To add some grit at low volume or to make your amp sound more full, use the Drive control to set the gain and the Level control to match with your amp.
- Two knobs to control Volume and Drive
- Shielded inputs/outputs to avoid RF
- Filtered and protected 9VDC input
- Daisy-chain friendly
- Current draw: 7.5mA
The Cream Amp pedal is hand-made in Barcelona with carefully selected components and has a price of 100.00€. The pedals are available and can be purchased directly from the Ananasheadonline store.
For more information, please visit ananashead.com.