Fender Blacktop Telecaster HH Electric Guitar Overview

Fender has come out with plenty of winning designs over there long career. From their world famous instant classic in the Stratocaster electric to the once discontinued but now resurgent Jaguar and Jazzmaster models, you can always expect outstanding craftsmanship from Fender (well, mostly, but even the late Starcaster had its fans). Recently, the music giant has brought on a new line of Made in Mexico axes that are priced just a bit over the entry level Squier electrics – about $500 – which might make some guitarists out there assume that they aren’t actually worth their time and money. Over the last month or so, we have been taking a closer look at the models within the Blacktop line of Fenders and if you happened to have caught any of them, you should already know that these babies are more than just a pleasant surprise.  If you haven’t done so already, you can check out our impression of the Fender Blacktop Jaguar HH right here.

Today, we will be taking a look at the Blacktop model of one of Fender’s most famous designs – the Telecaster Electric. So, how does this Mexican axe stand up to its Standard American counterpart? The results might surprise you, but most definitely not in a bad way. Alright, so let’s take a look at what the Fender Blacktop Telecaster HH Electric is all about.

 

 

The Differences between the Blacktop and the Standard

First of all, we won’t be getting into detail on the differences between a Fender Electric made in Mexico versus one made in the US (but if you would like to read up on that, check out our guide on that very subject right here). Instead, we will be focusing on the specific differences between a Blacktop Tele and a Standard Tele. Here are a few of the notable differences spec-wise:

 

Specifications

Standard Telecaster

Blacktop Telecaster HH

Body Shape

Standard Telecaster body shape

Standard Telecaster body shape

Body Material

Alder

Alder

Bridge Pickup

Hot Standard Telecaster Single-Coil Pickup

Hot Vintage alnico humbucking pickup with nickel cover

Neck Pickup

Hot Standard Telecaster Single-Coil Pickup

Hot Vintage alnico humbucking pickup with nickel cover

Pickup Switching

3-Position Pickup Switching Blade:

Position 1. Bridge Pickup

Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups

Position 3. Neck Pickup

3-Position Pickup Switching Blade:

Position 1. Bridge Pickup

Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups

Position 3. Neck Pickup

Controls

Master Volume, Master Tone

Master Volume, Master Tone

Bridge

Standard 6-Saddle Strings-Thru-Body Bridge

6-Saddle Strings-through-body hardtail bridge

Frets

21 Medium Jumbo Frets

22 Medium Jumbo Frets

Scale Length

25.5” (648 mm)

25.5" (648mm)

Note: Table is comparing the similarly priced FENDER Standard Telecaster to the Blacktop and not the American Standard model, whose biggest upgrade – besides those noted in our American vs Mexican article – is the inclusion of Alnico V pickups.

 

Taking a look at the chart, you can see that there really aren’t too many differences between these two guitars; both have alder bodies, both have same amount and type of control options and even the shape and scale length are pretty much toe to toe but among those very few differences is a huge one, the most important one actually – the choice of pickups. While the Standard Telecaster uses single coil pickups – which as far as tone goes gives it a bright, clean and twangy kind of sound – the Blacktop is equipped with two humbuckers – not unlike Gibson’s Les Paul – which makes this guitar far more versatile than the original, especially when it comes to genres such as blues, hard rock, metal, punk, alternative; pretty much most styles that tend to use overdrive and effects. But before we get into the specifics of what these dual humbuckers bring to the table, let’s take a look at some of the main features of the Blacktop Telecaster HH.

 

The Main Impressions of the Fender Blacktop Telecaster HH Electric

The first thing I noticed as I took this axe out of the box was how well set up it was from the get go. Seriously, besides tuning the thing, everything else was already perfect. The action felt great and responsive with no fret buzzing whatsoever. The build quality felt precise thanks to the choice of excellent hardware employed by Fender. Even the pcikups were already perfectly positioned to the point where I couldn’t really find any way to improve them. Better still, this thing can hold its tune with the best of them! Seriously, even after a few hours of intense bends and jamming, there was little to no need for re-tuning. I even had the unfortunate incident of accidentally knocking it over and to my surprise, there was not one single visible sign of nicks or scratches, in fact, the finish on this Telecaster is one of the best I’ve seen on a Fender. Pretty much everything on this guitar feels like it was expertly crafted – something that simply can’t be said with other guitars in this price range.

As far as the sound goes, this isn’t your regular Tele. If you are into the harder type of rock, maybe some blues or pretty much any genre that benefits from some overdrive, distortion and other effects, this guitar is a god-send. It becomes fairly obvious that Fender crafted the Blacktop series of electrics in order to appeal to younger, modern guitar driven rock once you plug this baby in (not to mention the fact that Fender has a whole slew of downloadable youth friendly designs for the pickguard). It still has that signature Tele twang though, albeit with a fat, warm sound that you tend to get with humbuckers. The neck pickup in particular is very warm. Anyways, the twang gives the guitar a very nice high end but with some added crunch that will certainly impress those that like their axes with a bit of edge.  Playing it clean sounds perfect for blues and other softer styles of music. Hands down, this guitar has such an excellent variety of tone that it’s sure to please most modern guitarists looking for an instrument with enough versatility and quality to last for several years to come. 

 

The Verdict

All in all, the Fender Blacktop Telecaster HH Electric is a very competent guitar that can serve a wide variety of players. With its notable feature of two humbucking pickups this Telecaster is a different beast from the standard variety – but don’t take that as a bad thing. If you are the type of player that just has to have the classic sound of a Tele – the same sound that won over plenty of country guitarists and other “clean” tone audiophiles – than the Standard Telecaster is probably the right choice for you but if you want something with a bit more bit and the warm and fat sound of humbucking pickups, look no further than the Blacktop Telecaster HH. And at only $499.99, it’s truly worth every penny.

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