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The Top 25 Best Non Fender Telecasters: The Ultimate List

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Introduction: What Makes a Great Telecaster-Style Guitar?

Before diving into the best non Fender Telecasters, it’s essential to understand what makes a great Telecaster-style guitar. We look at everything from the best tone to the best telecaster color.

Brief History of the Telecaster

The Telecaster, introduced by Fender in the 1950s, is one of the most iconic electric guitars ever made. Known for its bright, cutting tone and simple yet versatile design, it quickly became a favorite among musicians across various genres.

Key Features to Look For

When evaluating Telecaster-style guitars, consider the following features:

  • Body Shape and Material: Typically, Telecasters have a single-cutaway body, often made from ash or alder.
  • Neck and Fingerboard: Maple necks are common, offering a smooth playing experience.
  • Pickups: Single-coil pickups are standard, providing that classic Tele twang.
  • Bridge Design: The traditional Tele bridge can significantly impact tone and sustain.

High-End Telecaster Alternatives

High-end Telecaster alternatives offer premium build quality, exceptional playability, and superior tone.

1. G&L Musical Instruments: ASAT Classic

Best Non Fender Telecasters

G&L’s ASAT Classic is a fantastic high-end alternative to the traditional Telecaster. Founded by Leo Fender after leaving Fender, G&L incorporates many of his innovative designs.

The ASAT Classic feels solid and well-built, with a slightly different tonal character from a Fender Telecaster. The MFD (Magnetic Field Design) pickups provide a higher output and a broader frequency range, making it versatile for various music styles. The build quality is impeccable, with flawless fretwork and a beautifully finished neck.

Good Points:

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Versatile pickups
  • Comfortable neck

Bad Points:

  • Slightly higher price point
  • Different tonal character might not appeal to traditionalists

2. Suhr Guitars: Suhr T Series

Suhr Guitars is known for producing high-end, custom-quality instruments. The Suhr T Series is no exception, offering top-notch craftsmanship and tonal flexibility.

Playing the Suhr T Series, I was immediately impressed by its playability. The neck is smooth and fast, and the pickups provide a rich, dynamic sound. The guitar is lightweight, making it comfortable for long playing sessions. The attention to detail in the finish and hardware is evident.

Good Points:

  • Superb playability
  • Rich, dynamic tone
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Bad Points:

  • Expensive
  • Custom options can be overwhelming

3. Tom Anderson Guitarworks: T-Style

Tom Anderson is a respected name in the world of boutique guitars. The T-Style model offers everything you’d expect from a high-end Telecaster-style guitar.

The Tom Anderson T-Style guitar is a joy to play. Its custom pickups provide a range of tones from bright and snappy to warm and smooth. The build quality is exceptional, with a sleek, ergonomic design that feels great in your hands.

Good Points:

  • Excellent tonal range
  • Ergonomic design
  • High-quality construction

Bad Points:

  • Premium price
  • Limited availability

4. Nash Guitars: T Series

Nash Guitars specializes in vintage-style instruments with a modern twist. Their T Series guitars offer a relic’d look and feel with contemporary playability.

The Nash T Series guitar feels like a well-loved vintage instrument. The relic finish gives it a unique character, and the Lollar pickups deliver classic Tele tones. The neck is worn in just right, providing a comfortable playing experience.

Good Points:

  • Vintage look and feel
  • High-quality pickups
  • Comfortable, worn-in neck

Bad Points:

  • Relic finish might not appeal to everyone
  • Premium price

5. LSL Instruments: T-Bone

LSL Instruments is known for handcrafting each guitar to perfection. The T-Bone is their take on the classic Telecaster, offering a unique blend of vintage aesthetics and modern playability.

The T-Bone feels like a custom-made guitar. The attention to detail is remarkable, from the hand-shaped neck to the custom-wound pickups. The guitar sounds fantastic, with a clear, articulate tone that works well for various genres.

Good Points:

  • Custom craftsmanship
  • Clear, articulate tone
  • Attention to detail

Bad Points:

  • High cost
  • Limited production

Boutique Telecaster-Style Guitars

6. Kelton Swade Custom Guitars

Kelton Swade is known for making some of the best relic’d guitars in the market. His Telecaster-style guitars are renowned for their vintage vibe and modern playability.

Playing a Kelton Swade guitar is like stepping back in time. The relic finish is incredibly realistic, and the guitar feels like it’s been played for decades. The pickups provide a rich, vintage tone that is perfect for blues and rock.

Good Points:

  • Authentic relic finish
  • Vintage tone
  • Excellent playability

Bad Points:

  • High price
  • Availability can be limited

7. K-Line Truxton

K-Line Guitars is another boutique manufacturer that produces high-quality, vintage-inspired instruments. The Truxton model is their take on the Telecaster.

The Truxton has a fantastic vintage feel, with a worn-in neck and high-quality pickups. The guitar is lightweight and resonant, with a clear, punchy tone that cuts through the mix.

Good Points:

  • Vintage-inspired design
  • Lightweight and resonant
  • High-quality pickups

Bad Points:

  • Pricey
  • Limited customization options

8. Lucky Dog Televangelist

Lucky Dog Guitars is a boutique builder that focuses on high-quality, custom instruments. The Televangelist is their flagship Telecaster-style guitar.

The Televangelist is a beautifully crafted guitar with a unique aesthetic. The attention to detail is apparent in the hand-carved neck and custom-wound pickups. The guitar sounds fantastic, with a bright, clear tone and excellent sustain.

Good Points:

  • Unique aesthetic
  • High-quality craftsmanship
  • Excellent tone

Bad Points:

  • Expensive
  • Limited availability

9. Creston Electric Instruments: Custom T-Style

Creston Electric Instruments is a small boutique shop that produces custom guitars with a focus on quality and playability.

Creston’s Custom T-Style guitars are a delight to play. Each one is hand-built to the customer’s specifications, resulting in a truly unique instrument. The tone is fantastic, and the build quality is second to none.

Good Points:

  • Custom-built to your specifications
  • Fantastic tone
  • High-quality craftsmanship

Bad Points:

  • Long wait times
  • High cost

10. Ron Kirn Custom Guitars

Ron Kirn is a master luthier who handcrafts each guitar to perfection. His Telecaster-style guitars are highly regarded in the guitar community.

Playing a Ron Kirn guitar is a luxurious experience. The guitar feels perfectly balanced, and the custom pickups provide a rich, dynamic tone. The attention to detail in the construction is exceptional.

Good Points:

  • Custom craftsmanship
  • Rich, dynamic tone
  • Exceptional attention to detail

Bad Points:

  • High price
  • Long wait times

11. Veritas Guitars: Portlander

Veritas Guitars produces high-quality, boutique instruments with a focus on unique designs and superior playability. The Portlander is their take on the Telecaster.

The Portlander is a stunning guitar with a unique look and feel. The custom pickups provide a wide range of tones, from bright and twangy to warm and mellow. The build quality is top-notch, with a comfortable neck and excellent fretwork.

Good Points:

  • Unique design
  • Wide range of tones
  • High-quality construction

Bad Points:

  • Expensive
  • Custom options can be overwhelming

12. Whitfill Custom Guitars

Whitfill Guitars is a boutique manufacturer that specializes in vintage-style instruments. Their Telecaster-style guitars are known for their attention to detail and exceptional playability.

Playing a Whitfill guitar is like playing a well-loved vintage instrument. The relic finish is beautifully done, and the guitar feels comfortable and familiar. The pickups provide a rich, classic Tele tone.

Good Points:

  • Authentic vintage feel
  • Rich, classic tone
  • Comfortable playability

Bad Points:

  • High cost
  • Relic finish might not appeal to everyone

13. Crook Custom Guitars

Crook Custom Guitars is a small boutique shop that produces high-quality, custom Telecaster-style guitars. Their attention to detail and craftsmanship are second to none.

Crook guitars are a joy to play. The custom pickups provide a fantastic range of tones, and the build quality is exceptional. The guitar feels great in your hands, with a smooth neck and comfortable body.

Good Points:

  • Exceptional craftsmanship
  • Fantastic tone
  • Comfortable playability

Bad Points:

  • High price
  • Limited availability

Modern and Unique Telecaster Variants

14. ESP Guitars: LTD TE Series

ESP is known for producing high-quality, versatile guitars. The LTD TE Series offers a modern take on the classic Telecaster design.

The LTD TE Series is a solid, well-built guitar with a modern edge. The humbucker pickups provide a thick, powerful tone that works well for rock and metal. The neck is smooth and fast, making it easy to play.

Good Points:

  • Modern design
  • Powerful humbucker pickups
  • Smooth, fast neck

Bad Points:

  • Not ideal for traditional Tele tones
  • Heavier than classic Telecasters

15. Reverend Guitars: Eastsider

Reverend Guitars produces unique, high-quality instruments with innovative features. The Eastsider is their take on the Telecaster.

The Eastsider is a versatile guitar with a unique look. The pickups provide a wide range of tones, from bright and twangy to warm and smooth. The guitar is lightweight and comfortable to play.

Good Points:

  • Unique design
  • Versatile pickups
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Bad Points:

  • Non-traditional look might not appeal to everyone
  • Limited availability

16. Iconic Guitars: Tamarack

Iconic Guitars produces high-quality, custom instruments with a focus on modern designs. The Tamarack is their Telecaster-style model.

The Tamarack is a beautifully crafted guitar with a modern aesthetic. The custom pickups provide a clear, articulate tone, and the guitar feels great in your hands. The build quality is exceptional, with attention to detail in every aspect.

Good Points:

  • Modern design
  • Clear, articulate tone
  • Exceptional build quality

Bad Points:

  • Expensive
  • Custom options can be overwhelming

17. Mario Martin Guitars

Mario Martin Guitars produces high-quality, custom instruments with a focus on vintage-inspired designs. Their Telecaster-style guitars are highly regarded for their playability and tone.

Mario Martin guitars are a pleasure to play. The custom pickups provide a rich, dynamic tone, and the guitar feels comfortable and well-balanced. The build quality is top-notch, with attention to detail in every aspect. This is a great option if you are into your indie rock music!

Good Points:

  • Vintage-inspired design
  • Rich, dynamic tone
  • High-quality craftsmanship

Bad Points:

  • High cost
  • Limited availability

18. Xotic Guitars: XTC Series

Xotic Guitars is known for producing high-quality, boutique instruments with a focus on tone and playability. The XTC Series is their Telecaster-style model.

The XTC Series is a versatile guitar with a unique look. The custom pickups provide a wide range of tones, and the guitar feels great in your hands. The build quality is exceptional, with attention to detail in every aspect.

Good Points:

  • Unique design
  • Versatile pickups
  • High-quality construction

Bad Points:

  • Expensive
  • Custom options can be overwhelming

19. Patrick James Eggle Guitars: Oz

Patrick James Eggle Guitars produces high-quality, custom instruments with a focus on unique designs and superior playability. The Oz is their take on the Telecaster.

The Oz is a stunning guitar with a unique aesthetic. The custom pickups provide a wide range of tones, and the guitar feels great in your hands. The build quality is exceptional, with attention to detail in every aspect.

Good Points:

  • Unique design
  • Wide range of tones
  • High-quality construction

Bad Points:

  • Expensive
  • Custom options can be overwhelming

Affordable Telecaster-Style Options

Not all great Telecaster-style guitars have to break the bank. Here are some affordable options that offer excellent value for money.

20. Schecter Guitar Research: PT Series

Schecter is known for producing high-quality, affordable guitars. The PT Series offers a modern take on the classic Telecaster design.

The PT Series is a solid, well-built guitar with a modern edge. The humbucker pickups provide a thick, powerful tone that works well for rock and metal. The neck is smooth and fast, making it easy to play.

Good Points:

  • Modern design
  • Powerful humbucker pickups
  • Smooth, fast neck

Bad Points:

  • Not ideal for traditional Tele tones
  • Heavier than classic Telecasters

21. Charvel: Joe Duplantier San Dimas

Charvel produces high-quality, affordable guitars with a focus on modern designs. The Joe Duplantier San Dimas is their Telecaster-style model.

The Joe Duplantier San Dimas is a versatile guitar with a unique look. The pickups provide a wide range of tones, and the guitar feels great in your hands. The build quality is exceptional, with attention to detail in every aspect.

Good Points:

  • Unique design
  • Versatile pickups
  • High-quality construction

Bad Points:

  • Non-traditional look might not appeal to everyone
  • Limited availability

22. Tokai: Super-Vee Telecaster Style

Tokai is known for producing high-quality, affordable guitars with a focus on vintage-inspired designs. The Super-Vee Telecaster Style is their take on the Telecaster.

The Super-Vee is a pleasure to play. The custom pickups provide a rich, dynamic tone, and the guitar feels comfortable and well-balanced. The build quality is top-notch, with attention to detail in every aspect.

Good Points:

  • Vintage-inspired design
  • Rich, dynamic tone
  • High-quality craftsmanship

Bad Points:

  • High cost
  • Limited availability

Custom and Handmade Telecaster-Style Guitars

Custom and handmade guitars offer a level of personalization and craftsmanship that mass-produced models can’t match.

23. Nacho Guitars: Nacho Tele

Nacho Guitars is a small boutique shop that produces high-quality, custom Telecaster-style guitars. Their attention to detail and craftsmanship are second to none.

Playing a Nacho guitar is a luxurious experience. The guitar feels perfectly balanced, and the custom pickups provide a rich, dynamic tone. The attention to detail in the construction is exceptional.

Good Points:

  • Custom craftsmanship
  • Rich, dynamic tone
  • Exceptional attention to detail

Bad Points:

  • High price
  • Long wait times

24. JL Custom Guitars

JL Custom Guitars produces high-quality, custom instruments with a focus on unique designs and superior playability. Their Telecaster-style guitars are highly regarded for their playability and tone.

JL Custom guitars are a pleasure to play. The custom pickups provide a rich, dynamic tone, and the guitar feels comfortable and well-balanced. The build quality is top-notch, with attention to detail in every aspect.

Good Points:

  • Unique design
  • Rich, dynamic tone
  • High-quality craftsmanship

Bad Points:

  • High cost
  • Limited availability

25. Other Notable Custom Builders

Many other custom builders produce high-quality, Telecaster-style guitars. Each offers unique features and customization options that can make your guitar truly one-of-a-kind.

Good Points:

  • Unique features
  • High-quality craftsmanship
  • Customizable options

Bad Points:

  • High cost
  • Long wait times

Ever wondered what goes into making an electric guitar? Check out our step-by-step guitar-building post.

Telecaster-Style Guitars with Unique Features

Telecaster-style guitars with unique features offer a different take on the classic design.

Telecasters with Humbucker Pickups

Humbucker pickups provide a thicker, more powerful tone than single-coil pickups, making them a popular choice for rock and metal. Playing a Telecaster with humbucker pickups offers a different tonal palette. The thicker, more powerful tone is perfect for heavier music styles. The guitars are still versatile, offering a wide range of sounds. All of this is what makes an electric guitar great.

Good Points:

  • Thicker, more powerful tone
  • Versatile sound

Bad Points:

  • Not ideal for traditional Tele tones
  • Heavier than classic Telecasters

Semi-Hollow Telecaster-Style Guitars

Semi-hollow Telecasters offer a unique tonal character, combining the resonance of a hollow body with the sustain of a solid body.
Playing a semi-hollow Telecaster is a unique experience. The resonance and sustain are fantastic, and the guitar feels lively and responsive. The tone is warm and rich, perfect for blues and jazz.

Good Points:

  • Unique tonal character
  • Fantastic resonance and sustain
  • Warm, rich tone

Bad Points:

  • Can be prone to feedback
  • Heavier than solid-body Telecasters

Telecasters with Bigsby Tremolos

Bigsby tremolos provide a unique vibrato effect, adding a new dimension to your playing.
Playing a Telecaster with a Bigsby tremolo is a lot of fun. The vibrato effect adds a new dimension to your playing, and the guitar feels solid and well-built. The tone is classic Tele, with a bit of added flair.

Good Points:

  • Unique vibrato effect
  • Classic Tele tone
  • Solid build quality

Bad Points:

  • Can be challenging to set up
  • Adds weight to the guitar

Conclusion: Choosing the Best Non Fender Telecasters

The likes of Fender and Gibson with their iconic shapes will always have companies minicing their style. Choosing the best non Fender Telecaster comes down to personal preference and what you value most in a guitar.

Best Value for Money

If you’re looking for the best value for money, consider the G&L ASAT Classic or the Schecter PT Series. Both offer excellent build quality and tone at a reasonable price.

Best for Customization

For those who want a truly unique instrument, consider a custom builder like Ron Kirn or Nacho Guitars. The level of personalization and craftsmanship is unmatched.

Best for Professional Musicians

For professional musicians, high-end options like the Suhr T Series or the Tom Anderson T-Style offer superior playability and tone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the best Telecaster for the money?

A. The G&L ASAT Classic offers excellent value for money, with high-quality construction and versatile tone.

Q. What is the best cheap Telecaster copy?

A. The Schecter PT Series provides a great Telecaster-style guitar at an affordable price, with modern features and solid build quality.

Q. What Telecaster-style guitars have humbucker pickups?

A. The ESP LTD TE Series and Charvel Joe Duplantier San Dimas are great options for Telecaster-style guitars with humbucker pickups.

Q. Which Telecaster is best for different music genres?

A. For rock and metal, consider the ESP LTD TE Series. For blues and jazz, a semi-hollow Telecaster like the Reverend Eastsider is a great choice.

Q. Are there any “Boutique” Telecaster Builders?

A. Yes, builders like Ron Kirn, Nacho Guitars, and Whitfill Custom Guitars offer high-quality, boutique Telecaster-style guitars.