For a premium Telecaster, the American Fenders are the cream of the crop. While the Standard is considered the benchmark Tele, for an additional $400 you can own the American Deluxe - a modernised, blinged up version of the Standard.
Many of the Deluxe's features look superior on paper and, in a similar MIA Strat comparison, we felt the extra cost was reasonable, given the practical value of these upgraded features.
However, the Telecaster is a different animal. Will the Deluxe prove its worth in the same way?
|Model||Standard Telecaster||Deluxe Telecaster|
|Weight||3.3 kg / 7lbs 3oz||3.5 kg / 7 lbs 13 oz|
|Tuners||Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed||Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed Locking|
|Neck||Maple, Modern "C"|
|Nut Material||Synthetic Bone|
|Fingerboard||Maple or Rosewood|
|Fingerboard Radius||9.5"||9.5-14" Compound Radius|
|Frets||22 Medium Jumbo|
|Inlays||Pearloid Dot (Rosewood)
White Dot (Maple)
|Pickups||Bridge Pickup: Custom Shop Vintage-Style Tele
Neck Pickup: Custom Shop "Twisted" Single-Coil Tele
|Noiseless N3 Single-Coil x2
With S-1 Switch
|Bridge||6-Saddle American Standard Strings-Through-Body Tele with Bent Steel Saddles and Stamped Brass Plate||6-Saddle American Tele with Chromed Brass Saddles|
|Standard Telecaster||Deluxe Telecaster|
The key differences between the Standard and Deluxe Telecasters are similar to that of the American Stratocasters.
So the Deluxe is essentially an optimised Standard, with more specialist parts that serve more than a merely cosmetic purpose.
Starting at the bridge, in place of the Standard's traditional bent steel saddles, the Deluxe is fitted with more sleekly modern chromed brass saddles.
The brass does have an effect on tone, producing a warmer, less harsh attack than steel.
The Deluxe is also lacking the purely cosmetic stamped brass plate of the Standard.
At the headstock, the Deluxe boasts locking tuners, which locks the string on to the tuning post, preventing it from going out of tune due to slippage. It also saves time when re-stringing, as there are no winds to worry about.
The only difference here (and quite a significant one), is the compound neck radius on the Deluxe model.
This means the neck gradually changes dimensions as you move up the neck, meaning easier chord fingering down at the first few frets and easier bending and lead runs higher up. in short, easier to play all round.
Compound radius seems to be the most appreciated feature of the Deluxe.
The noiseless N3 pickups in the Deluxe will be a welcome feature for anyone who's played through single coils at high volumes, e.g. in a live setting.
The N3's do a more efficient job of killing unwanted hum than your typical, external noise gate, which can kill tone with it.
There's also the S-1 Switch on the master volume knob which, similar to the coil tapping feature on some humbucking guitars, changes the output of the single coils to give you fatter, warmer, humbucker-esque tones.
This, along with the usual pickup position switch, gives you a much broader tonal range than the Standard.
In terms of general differences in sound, the Deluxe does seem to have a warmer, less shrill tone, even without the S-1 activated, in part due to the brass hardware. But it retains the depth and attack that we expect from premium pickups.
For those who want a more modern Tele sound, that can handle higher levels of gain with greater control, the Deluxe is perhaps the solution.
Both the Standard and Deluxe obviously aren't cheap instruments. But the question of whether or not the extra $400 for the Deluxe can be justified is answered in the overall rating and consensus of user opinion.
The Deluxe's premium features - locking tuners, brass saddles, compound neck radius, noiseless pickups and S-1 switch - hold significant practical value for the serious player.
In fact, there's arguably more practical difference between the Deluxe and American Standard than between the latter and Mexican Standard Telecaster.
We (and many others) believe the extra cost is a fair reflection of the Deluxe's true value, and will make you the proud owner of one of the best guitars money can buy, brand new today.