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Fender Limited Edition American Elite HSS Telecaster

A Tele fit for a king...

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

Fender Guitars have been mainstays in music for more than 60 years, but like most iconic guitar brands, their bread and butter tends to come from variations of proven hits rather than pushing for true innovation. The announcement early in 2018 about their new Parallel Universe series of guitars seemed to change that, as their designers decided to ask a whole bunch of “what ifs” and explore how some of their iconic designs might have come out very differently in another space and time. Part of the new Fender Parallel Universe series is the American Elite Telecaster HSS I was sent to review…

 

What You Need to Know

 

The Fender American Elite Telecaster HSS ships in a molded hardshell case with Certificate of Authenticity and comes in cherry sunburst. The contoured ash body keeps the guitar pure classic Tele, and the Nitrocellulose lacquer allows the wood to breathe, promising an ever-improving sound as the guitar ages. The American Elite Tele keeps with tradition with its bone nut, maple neck and fingerboard, and Pure Vintage Gray-Bottom 64’ single coil pickups but then veers with the addition of a Shawbucker neck humbucking pickup and compound-profile modern ‘C-to-D” neck shape.

 

 

 

The guitar plays like a dream and will feel immediately familiar to Fender players both in the neck and how the weight is distributed. The frets were well seated and rounded, and the pickups were so dialed in that after doing some of my typical monkeying around with their height and position I realized I’d just dialed them back to where they were when they left the factory.

 

The Pure Vintage Gray-Bottom 64’ pickups immediately produced that Tele snap and quack, with just enough heat to excite an overdriven preamp. The Shawbucker kicks the hum that sometimes (but rarely) came through on the single coils and creates a fuller sound without sacrificing the clarity of the instrument… a Tele is all about being a Tele, and I’ve found poor pickup choices for other Tele’s I’ve evaluated rob the instrument of it’s character.

 

Limitations

 

 

Such is the nature of pairing low output single coil pickups with humbuckers, care needs to be taken when jumping between pickups as the output level of the Shawbucker is significantly higher than the other two.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The Fender American Elite Telecaster HSS is about as robust and flexible as possible without being a modern Stratocaster. The build quality and attention to detail of the guitar I evaluated was top tier. While there was nothing so dramatically different about the appointments that it felt distinctly different from other American-made Teles, one of the sweet spots Fender has always found with new product releases is the marriage of familiarity with just enough variation to scratch a new itch, and the Fender American Elite Telecaster HSS handles that in spades.  -HC-

 

Resources

 

Fender American Elite Telecaster HSS Product Page

 

Buy the Fender American Elite Telecaster HSS ($1,999.99 Direct)

 

                                                                 

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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