Everyone has different friends they count on for different things. There is the buddy who will help you move when no one else will. Or the one who will put up with your broken-heart stories even when it’s the third time in as many months.
Guitars are like musical friends. When the situation calls for it, many players will have their go-to guitar. Herein lies the pending germ of a discussion that we hope will not lead to bloodshed.
Which is the better guitar for playing the blues, the Stratocaster or the Telecaster?
Is it the twang of the bridge pickup on the tele?
Is it the enhanced mid-range of the third pickup of the strat?
You tell us! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Let’s hear where Buddy Guy stands on the issue:
Sue Foley and Peter Karp are both tremendous players with solid solo careers. More recently they have teamed up as a recording and touring duo. As musical collaborators, they are often in synch with each other matching rhythms and trading riffs. That is until they get to talking Strat vs. Tele.
"Strat vs. Tele? Man, that so depends on whose hands either guitar is in." By Peter Karp
Personally I prefer the Tele — but that’s because I love playing full-bodied guitars like my heroes Freddie King and Son House — the 335 Gibson and my National Steel Resonator. The body of the Tele feels to me like a full-bodied guitar. The sound is guttier (especially with a humbucker in the neck position.) Strats are so contoured — so narrow — too sweet sounding. However, I admit when I’m on the road and traveling by airline — I often bring my ’82 Strat (my first electric, bought in NYC to play in my punk band.) Why the Strat? Because they’re indestructible, and easy to take apart and fold up in a suitcase — like an assassin’s rifle.
I’ll leave you with this:
In 2004 the greatest Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor recorded and toured with me to promote my CD The Turning Point.
The night before the recording session he called me from the airport in England, and asked if I had a Strat he could use on my song “I’m Not Giving Up.” I said sure. What he didn’t know is that for 10 years the maple neck on my Strat had been pulled off and employed for a number of home usages — including holding open my bathroom window during long, hot New Jersey summers. So the next morning, an hour before the session, I rummaged through my basement, found the body, bolted on the neck, strung it up and presented it to Mick. He plugged it in, ripped off a few licks, looked up at me and with a glazed-but-satisfied look in his eye said: “This is one beautiful-sounding guitar, mate. I can tell it’s been very well cared for.”
Strats. They’ll be here long after we’re gone.
“No Contest!” by Sue Foley
I bought my first Fender Telecaster when I was 18. I had played a lot of country-blues and early Chicago-style blues back in Ottawa, but now I was out on my own and living in Vancouver, and I wanted something with more guts — something that could be heard above the cacophony of honkers and blowers at the local blues jam. Stevie Ray Vaughan had just broken through, and all the guys were playing Strats and trying to get that Texas sound and they were all starting to sound the same.
When I went to buy my first solid-body electric, I knew it would be a choice between a Strat and Tele, but when I got to the store there really was no choice. I immediately thought of Muddy Waters. I wanted a clearer sound that would cut through and would identify me. I ended up falling in love with a little blonde Tele. A few weeks later, I saw Albert Collins for the first time. He knocked me out with one piercing, screaming note with more personality and spirit than a thousand I’ve heard coming from any Strat.
The deal was sealed. I have been a Tele devotee ever since.
Sue Foley is a "Truckin' Little Woman" on her Tele.
Where do you stand in the Strat vs. Tele debate? Let us know in the comment section.
Karp Foley in Studio
B.B. King's Amp
Saturday Night Blues
on Apr 22, 2012