Can I play Metal on a Telecaster?

Of late there’ve been repeated questions about the venerable Telecaster’s suitability for Metal-playing, so I thought I should respond:

Starting in the Eighties a myth has grown that Hard Rock and Metal can only be played on guitars specially designed for these types of music. In reality there isn’t a special sub-species of instruments – if you look closely enough most ”Metal guitars” have their roots in classic models, most derived in some way from Gibson’s classics.

A Fender Telecaster is as suited for Metal as most other solidbody electrics – as long as you don’t plan on using a strictly vintage-type Tele.

A vintage Telecaster’s ”problem zones” for hard ’n’ heavy are its singlecoil pickups, its ashtray bridge, its small frets and small radius (= very convex) fingerboard.

Singlecoils suck in way too much extraneous electromagnetic noise (buzz and hum) to be of any practical use in a high-gain environment. Additionally, the metal cover on the front pickup as well as the grounding plate on the back pickup tend to induce howling feedback at extreme volume and gain settings.

A vintage Tele’s bridge is problematic when it comes to spot-on intonation, because it only features three bridge saddles. Furthermore, the relatively thin metal plate the bridge is made of also is a regular culprit when it comes to high-gain howl.

A small fingerboard radius coupled with small frets makes string-bending noticeably more difficult.

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The easiest way to deal with these problems is to select a Tele-model that’s already equipped with a six-saddle-bridge, humbuckers and a flatter fingerboard with bigger frets. Good examples are:

The Squier Jim Root Telecaster

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The Fender Classic ’72 Telecaster Deluxe

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The Fender Telecaster FMT HH Special Edition

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