If a Telecaster was to engage in unprotected sex with a Gretsch guitar, ten months down the line it would create the birth of the Thinline Telecaster!
Everyone knows the cool and instantly recognizable solid body Telecaster know for its iconic ‘bright‘ and ‘twangy‘ sound. The Thinline however, is a semi-hollow variation which may be appeal and interest some Tele enthusiasts out there?
So how does it compare to a regular Telecaster…’tone‘, ‘playability‘ and ‘functionality‘?
Why Create a Semi-Hollow Version?
The Fender Thinline was born in 1969 introducing the F-hole and new semi-hollow design.
The purpose? To lower the weight of the heavier solid body version prevalent during the 1960s.
Another reason was during this time, there was a manufacturing shortage of the lighter ash wood that Fender commonly used. This spurred the creation of the semi-hollow re-design to drastically lower the weight creating a more comfortable and playable guitar.
The Thinline was later updated to the classic and recognizable 1972 model, featuring the Fender ‘Wide Range’ humbucker pickups. This new combination of humbucker and semi-hollow creates a new tonal dynamic to the usual classic Telecaster sound.
Thinline Telecaster Sound
So how does the semi-hollow version impact on tone?
When it comes to sound, the Thinline is noticeably warmer and rounder compared to the usual bright and twangy solid body version.
The Thinline still recreates the classic chime and twang only now a slightly more hollow and rounder variation of the classic Tele sound.
The Thinline also sounds wider with an additional boost of bottom end which is to be expected with a chambered guitar.
Players may enjoy the slightly more bassier and pronounced twang with more attack compared to the solid body version when running through a good clean amp with lots of headroom. On comparison…
Notes sound warmer
Notes sound crisper
As with all Telecasters… they are good at everything! Both guitars can do a wide range of genres as is the versatility of the Tele.
The advantage to the Thinline however, (in my opinion) is that it shines the most when playing rhythm.
This is the case with most semi-hollow guitars as the strings can resonate with both the top and bottom chamber, creating a nice blend and overtone that cannot be produced with a solid body guitar.
Although slightly less pronounced than a regular Tele, chords seem to have a nice character to them either clean or with a bit of dirt and distortion.
The Thinline Telecaster with a set of humbuckers, includes a good balance of warmth and character which can be heard when playing chords which may appeal to all the rhythm players out there.
When it comes to clean tones, the bridge position tone is not as thin and piercing as a solid body version so the twang is warmer but not as driving as a regular Tele.
Even the Single coil Thinline has a warmer twang, and when played through a clean amp produces a great slap tone due to the warmer characteristics of the guitar.
This would be ideal for a Jazz clean tone as the guitar would be great for a warm lead sound that doesn’t get buried with the rest of the band. The solid body Telecaster produces a brighter, crisper sound that has more twang and bite than the hollow body version.
The sound is also tighter and produces a less woody tone which proves that guitar construction does ultimately impact on the overall tone.
The drawback is the small loss of sustain due to the strings having less wood to resonate with compared to a regular solid body guitar.
This shows when playing single note solos, as having more wood allows the individual notes to ring out more. However, the notes have a nice warmth and dynamic character to them which is a comparable change to the usually twangy tone.
It has to be mentioned, being a semi-hollow does come with drawbacks, as they are more likely to feedback which becomes apparent when playing live through a distorted tube amp.
Something to be wary of if your sound consists of high gain. However, the differences become more apparent when it comes to each guitars sound tonally.
In the looks department…the Thinline looks subtly more vintage due to the F-hole that would sit nicely with a Telecaster with an aged wood finish, add in a pair of humbuckers or P90 would complete a slick classic vintage look.
When it comes to weight, as with semi-hollow design means the Thinline is obviously much lighter than the regular solid body version, meaning a more comfortable and playable guitar.
The Thinline only weighs 6.5lb which is a very light and forgiving guitar to wear for 2-hour gigs. When unplugged, the Thinline also has more acoustic projection due to the sound resonating inside the F-hole.
The Squire Vintage 72 is the reincarnation of the previously discussed Fender 1972 Thinline Telecaster minus the higher price tag.
The Vintage modified includes the classic combination of the ash body, F-hole chamber and the humbucker pickups that give this guitar its own unique character. Squire consistently provide vintage reissue guitars that are affordable and sound like the Fender originals.
Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe $499 (Sweetwater)
The Fender Modern Player Telecaster is a combination of the 72 Deluxe and 72 Thinline with the only difference being that this axe includes a pair of P90 picks ups.
The P90 pickups produce a slightly warmer tone than single coils but not as hot as a humucker offering a nice dynamic blend. The combination of hollow chamber, P90s and mahogany body gives this guitar a unique take on the usual Telecaster sound.