Modern Player vs Standard Telecaster

Fender Modern Player TelecasterFender Modern Player Telecaster
Fender Standard (MIM) TelecasterFender Standard (MIM) Telecaster

To many, the traditional, dual single coil Telecaster is perfect just the way it is. But Fender couldn't ignore the growing demand for a more versatile, modernised version.

At the mid-price level, enter the Modern Player Telecaster Plus (Modern Player for short), with three distinctly wired pickups including a bridge humbucker.

So on first glance, you're getting a good deal more guitar for less than the Mexican Standard ($100 less to be precise). But where have costs been cut?

Modern Player vs MIM Tele - side by side

Model Modern Player MIM Standard
Rating 88
($300-$500)
90
($500-$700)
Reviews
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Model Modern Player MIM Standard
Website Fender.com Fender.com
Weight 3.5 kg / 7lbs 13oz 3.7 kg/ 8lbs 3oz
Tuners Vintage-Style Fender Standard Cast/Sealed
Neck Maple
Modern C
Scale Length 25.5"
Nut Material Synthetic Bone
Nut Width 1.650"
Fingerboard Maple
Radius 9.5"
Frets 22
Jumbo
21
Medium Jumbo
Inlays Black dot
Body Pine Alder
Pickups MP Humbucker (bridge)
MP Single-Coil Strat (middle)
MP Tele (neck)
Humbucker coil tap switch
Standard Single-Coil Tele x2
Bridge 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Strat Strings-Through-Body Hardtail 6-Saddle Standard Strings-Through-Body Tele with Block Saddles
Modern Player MIM Standard


Modern Player MIM Standard
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Difference between The Modern Player & Standard

Two very different Teles, so plenty to compare. But first...

The Whole Chinese Fender issue

Yes, the Modern Player is manufactured in China (MIC), much to the surprise of anyone who has previously associated Fender solely with USA and Mexico.

This seems to have created quite a stigma within some of the guitarist community. This may be more to do with a disappointment at Fender using the same tactic Squier have for over a decade.

But with Squier's highly acclaimed MIC Classic Vibes proving their quality, people should give the MIC Fenders a chance.

So right off the bat, cheaper Chinese labour has allowed Fender to sell what would be considerably more expensive than the Mexican Standard at $100 cheaper.

hardware & Materials

Starting with the tuners, the Standard's Fender Cast machines are without a doubt the superior of the two.

Modern Player and Standard Tele bridgeModern Player (top) and Standard Tele bridge and pickups

However, there are only a few minor grumbles about the Modern Player's tuning stability. You shouldn't have any problem getting through a solid session before having to tweak the pegs.

At the bridge, we ironically have vintage style "bent" saddles on the Modern Player, with the sleeker block saddles on the MIM.

The bridge plate on the MP sits back from the bridge pickup, unlike the traditional long-style plate on the Standard, which surrounds the pickup.

The body, like in Squier's Classic Vibe 50's Tele, is pine as opposed to the now standard alder. A softer wood that will dent more easily, but is slightly lighter in weight and, to many ears, slightly more resonant.

Feel & Playability

A slight difference in playability, with the Modern Player fitted with jumbo frets as opposed to the more typical medium jumbos on the Standard.

What does this mean in practical terms? Thicker fret wires can make bending physically easier, as your finger is raised slightly higher from the finger board, avoiding any friction. So if you're big on lead soloing, that's something to consider.

If you've never played with jumbo frets before, they're not something you will need to spend a lot of time getting used to.

Sound

The Modern Player's mis-matched HSS pickups open up the Telecaster to a whole new world of tonal experimentation.

As expected, the bridge humbucker is a lot meatier and warmer than the Standard's single coil, giving it far more scope for styles that depend on high gain/distortion than your typical Tele. It's a thicker sound overall both clean and dirty.

But there's also the addition of a Strat single coil in the middle position, giving MP players access to that distinctively smooth yet snappy Strat sound.

Also like the Strat, the MP's three pickups mean we have five position switching to play with, meaning a far broader range of tones than the Standard's classic three positions.

If that's not enough variation for you, there's also the split coil function on the bridge humbucker, activated via a mini switch between the volume and tone knobs. When activated, the coil tap gives the humbucker a skinnier, brighter single coil-esque sound, although quite different from standard single coil output.

▲ Compare Sound

Bottom Line

For many Tele fans, the shear range of tones attainable on the Modern Player will be an overkill, and you'll have to do a fair bit of dialling to revert back to that classic Telecaster tone instantly attainable and recognisable on the Standard.

But if you're looking for a Tele with a modern twist and a broad palette to match your eclectic tastes, the MP's lower price tag will be a welcome bonus.

That is, of course, if you can handle "crafted in China" being proudly displayed on the headstock... I mean, it is on the back of the headstock.

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