When one thinks about a Fender Telecaster, a hollow body is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Or the fourth thing, for that matter.
Sure, there have been a slew of semi-hollow Telecaster Thinline guitars over the years, but the classic Tele is quite rooted in a storied tradition.
Leave it up to the inventive minds inhabiting the Fender Custom Shop to turn convention on its head. Case in point — over the past year, Fender Master Builder Paul Waller has been working on a hollow-body Telecaster that he will showcase at the 2014 NAMM Show.
Waller has worked on several hollow-body Teles during his decade-long tenure with Fender, and he doesn’t think he is giving up the habit any time soon.
“There have definitely been some builders in the past that have poked around with this concept, but I’ve been pretty consistent with it. It’s starting to kind of stick,” he said with a laugh.
The piece is, as Waller called it, “super hollowed out,” with an arch top and bolt-on neck. Clad in Faded Tennessee Orange, the guitar features two double-bound f holes, gold hardware and pearl thumbnail inlays, recalling many of the Western-inspired guitars of the past.
The unique instrument also boasts Fender wide-range humbucker pickups that give it a fat but clear sound and a modified Jazzmaster/Jaguar bridge that Waller developed himself.
“It sounds a lot like a Thinline, but in addition to that, there is also that Jazz/Jag bridge that I’ve been making for the past few years,” Waller said. “That helps it to really sound like a true hollow-body guitar without having the inherent problems like feedback.”
Waller noted that the way the bridge combines with the string-through body of the Tele can elicit some interesting tones, too.
“The string loads in the back of the body, like a Tele, and then wraps around the bridge and pushes down on it really hard,” he explained. “That changes the tone considerably. Normally, those Jaguars and Jazzmasters, the strings are just barely laying on that bridge piece, not putting very much pressure on it. It can sound thin and chimey.
“When you really pull down on the sucker, it makes a different sound altogether.”
Who knows if this kind of hollow-body Tele will become even more mainstream as Waller continues to work on them, but the Master Builder wouldn’t mind seeing that happen.
“A lot of times, you throw something like this out there that is non-traditional, and people freak out,” he said. “They don’t know what to do with it. But now, I think it might be getting to the point where people are looking for something a little more different. It’s getting a little more accepted.”