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Fender Meteora vs Fender Telecaster: Which Is Best?

Fender Meteora vs Fender Telecaster
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The Fender Telecaster is a classic, tried and tested and beloved by all. The Fender Meteora is newer, more unique-looking and different. But who comes out on top in a straight-up comparison? Let’s find out



TL;DR – KEY TAKEAWAYS ⏱️

I’m not going to lie: I love the way the Fender Meteora looks, and I really like the way it feels and plays.

But it just has far too many QC issues to recommend over the similarly priced and vastly more reliable Fender Telecaster

Pound for pound, where it counts, so, tone, playability, pickups, and reliability, the Fender Telecaster runs rings around the Meteora. 

If you want my advice, as someone that owns both, save yourself some headaches and go with the Fender Telecaster. 

  • Telecaster: If you’re looking for a reliable, classic guitar that delivers on sound and playability, the Telecaster is your go-to.
  • Meteora: If you’re willing to invest time and possibly money in upgrades and fixes, the Meteora offers a unique design and a different tonal palette.
  • Best Overall: Given the quality control issues of the Meteora and the consistent reliability of the Telecaster, the latter gets my vote for the best overall guitar in this comparison.

When it comes to iconic guitar brands, Fender is a name that stands out. But with a plethora of models to choose from, making a decision can be overwhelming.

You have Strats to consider. Teles. The Jaguar. Even the Jazzmaster which is growing in popularity these days.

Today, however, we’re diving deep into a head-to-head comparison between the newer and fancier-looking Fender Meteora and the iconic, tried-n-tested Fender Telecaster.

Both guitars have their merits, but they also have distinct differences that could make or break your decision.

Let’s get into it.

Telecaster: The Classic Workhorse

best harley benton telecaster

Sound and Electronics

The Telecaster I reviewed was purchased in 2019 and came with stock humbuckers that were good enough to keep. The guitar maintains that traditional Telecaster sound, especially from the neck pickup. It features a single volume pot and a tone pot with a coil-tap function.

  • Real-World Example: If you’re a fan of Bruce Springsteen or Keith Richards, this is the guitar that can get you that classic rock tone.

Build and Playability

Weighing in at a manageable 3.6 kg (just shy of 8 lbs), the Telecaster strikes an impressive balance between heft and comfort.

This is a guitar that you can play for extended sessions without feeling weighed down, making it ideal for both studio work and live performances.

Upon arrival, the Telecaster was in near-perfect condition, requiring only minor adjustments to suit personal preferences.

This speaks volumes about Fender’s quality control and ensures that you can get to playing almost immediately, without the need for extensive setups or modifications.

Value for Money

Priced at approximately $600, the Telecaster is a great mid-range option for more experienced players that are looking for something a little more upmarket.

Its reputation for reliability is almost legendary in the guitar community, making it a go-to choice for both touring musicians and bedroom players alike.

The ease of play, facilitated by its well-balanced design and quality electronics, makes it accessible for beginners yet nuanced enough for pros.

In terms of value for money, it’s hard to find another guitar in this price range that offers such a comprehensive package of sound quality, playability, and dependability.

Fender Meteora: The Modern Maverick

Fender Meteora

Sound and Electronics

Initially captivated by the Meteora’s avant-garde design, I chose the eye-catching Candy Apple Red variant to add a splash of color to my guitar collection.

But aesthetics aren’t everything.

Despite sharing the same pickups as the Telecaster, the Meteora delivers a tonal profile that’s distinctly warmer, albeit less vibrant. This could be a pro or a con depending on your musical preferences.

The Meteora steps up the game in terms of control options, featuring two volume pots and a tone pot with a coil-tap function.

This allows for a broader range of tonal adjustments right from the guitar itself, offering more versatility in shaping your sound without having to reach for your amp or pedalboard.

  • Real-World Example: Imagine you’re choosing between two sports cars that have the same engine. One has a traditional, tried-and-true design, while the other offers a futuristic look and more customization options. The Meteora is like that latter sports car—it may not outperform the Telecaster in every aspect, but it offers a unique experience and greater control, making it a compelling choice for those looking to step outside the norm.

Build and Playability

Tipping the scales at a slightly lighter 3.4 kg (7.5 lbs), the Meteora offers an ergonomic advantage, making it well-balanced and comfortable for extended play sessions. This could be a key factor for gigging musicians or anyone who values comfort during long practice hours.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing.

The Meteora arrived with a litany of quality control issues that can’t be ignored. From over-torqued screws that could potentially damage the wood to a poor initial setup that necessitates immediate attention, these issues raise concerns about the guitar’s manufacturing oversight.

Value for Money

Priced in the same ballpark as the Telecaster (around $600), the Meteora presents itself as a potentially great alternative for those seeking something different.

On paper, it offers a unique design, comfort, and a distinct tonal palette that could make it a standout choice.

However, its value proposition takes a hit due to the significant quality control issues encountered.

These aren’t minor hiccups; they’re glaring oversights that require immediate attention and could incur additional costs for repairs or upgrades. As a result, what could have been a solid investment becomes a bit of a gamble.

  • Real-World Example: Imagine you’re choosing between two similarly-priced smartphones. One has a proven track record of reliability and performance, while the other offers innovative features but has known issues with build quality. The Meteora is like that latter option—it has the potential to be a game-changer but falls short due to quality control, making it a riskier investment compared to the more reliable Telecaster.

Sound Comparisons

When tested under identical amp settings to ensure a fair comparison, the Telecaster delivered its signature sound—recognizable, lively, and full of the character that has made it a staple in genres ranging from country to rock.

It’s the kind of tone that has been immortalized in countless recordings, offering a sonic quality that’s both versatile and distinctive.

In contrast, the Meteora, despite housing the same pickups as the Telecaster, sounded noticeably flatter and less lively.

While it did offer a warmer tone, it lacked the vibrancy and dynamic range that the Telecaster effortlessly provided.

This could be a significant factor depending on the genre of music you’re into or the tonal qualities you prioritize.

Quality Control

The Telecaster had minor flaws but nothing a quick set-up couldn’t fix. A less experienced player might not have even noticed the issue, so for the most part – out of the box – the Tele was solid as you’d expect.

But I’m a real stickler for details. It has to be perfect, or as close as possible.

The Meteora, on the other hand, presented more concerning quality control issues, as noted above. I’d like to think this was an isolated QC issue. But sadly it is not:

I bought a new one recently. The fretwork was atrocious. Lacquer was only partially removed from the frets or completely covering it. I was able to remove it with a scalpel and then did some fret leveling and polishing and it’s good now but that’s 2.5 hours of my time to get an expensive new guitar playable. Also was not set up at all from the factory. I bought on the internet so I didn’t have a chance to play it first. The issues with the frets were not evident from the pictures.

Reddit

Playability and Comfort

Both the Telecaster and the Meteora score high marks when it comes to being lightweight and easy to play, making them suitable choices for extended jam sessions or live performances.

However, the Meteora has a slight edge in terms of overall comfort and balance, which is particularly noteworthy given its unconventional body shape.

The Meteora’s ergonomic design seems to distribute weight more evenly across the body, reducing the strain on your shoulder and making it easier to maneuver on stage or during practice.

This could be a crucial factor for musicians who prioritize comfort during long gigs or recording sessions.

Its unique body shape, far from being a hindrance, actually contributes to this sense of balance, offering a different but equally comfortable playing experience compared to traditional guitar designs.

Final Verdict

Fender Player Telecaster Reviews
  • Telecaster: If you’re looking for a reliable, classic guitar that delivers on sound and playability, the Telecaster is your go-to.
  • Meteora: If you’re willing to invest time and possibly money in upgrades and fixes, the Meteora offers a unique design and a different tonal palette.
  • Best Overall: Given the quality control issues of the Meteora and the consistent reliability of the Telecaster, the latter gets my vote for the best overall guitar in this comparison.

If you’re in the market for a guitar that epitomizes reliability, the Telecaster is your go-to option. With its classic design, iconic sound, and ease of playability, it’s a guitar that has stood the test of time.

Minor flaws aside, its consistent performance makes it a trustworthy companion for both studio recording and live gigs.

It’s the kind of guitar that you can pick up and play, knowing exactly what you’re going to get—a reliable, high-quality musical experience.

On the flip side, the Meteora is for those who are willing to venture off the beaten path. Its unique design and different tonal palette make it an intriguing option for musicians looking for something out of the ordinary.

However, this comes with a caveat: be prepared to invest both time and potentially additional money in upgrades and fixes.

The quality control issues are significant enough to warrant caution, but if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, the Meteora could turn into a gem.

Given the quality control concerns surrounding the Meteora and the consistent reliability of the Telecaster, the latter clearly stands out as the best overall option in this head-to-head comparison.

It offers a blend of sound quality, playability, and dependability that the Meteora struggles to match, making it a safer and more reliable investment for musicians at any level.

In summary, your choice boils down to what you value most: the tried-and-true reliability of a classic or the adventurous allure of a modern design with a few rough edges.

Choose wisely, and may your decision lead to endless musical inspiration. Me? I think I’ll be sticking with my Tele from here on out.

The Everyman’s Tele…
Fender Player Telecaster

Fender has been making the Tele since the 1950s, so the design is now essentially flawless. And its Alnico 5 pickups run really hot, so if you like plenty of punch to your sound, this is the guitar for you – it screams with a dollop of gain and/or fuzz.

Pros:
  • Iconic Sound: The Telecaster delivers a classic, recognizable tone that’s versatile across genres.
  • Reliable Build: Known for its sturdy construction and quality control, it’s a guitar you can count on.
  • Easy Playability: Its well-balanced weight and comfortable design make it accessible for players of all levels.
  • Minimal Setup: Arrives in near-perfect condition, requiring only minor adjustments to suit personal preferences.
  • Good Value: Priced around $600, it offers a solid blend of performance and reliability, making it a sound investment.

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