We’ve already done a Fender Road Worn review and there’s been a lot of talk about how they compare with other relic jobs. Well, we at Mass Street Music were lucky enough to have not only the Road Worn, but a real 1958 Fender Telecaster and the new Seuf OF-20 in the store at the moment and we couldn’t help but throw them all in the ring together for a battle royale and see how they compared. We’re a Nash dealer too, but we haven’t got any in stock today. We played each of the guitars through a Dr. Z Carmen Ghia and Eric, John, Jason and shop manager Mike went a round with each guitar. The winner? Well, depends on who you ask.
Note – this tele’s bridge pickup was rewound at some point by Charlie Davis one of ‘the’ Fender guys who probably wound it when it was made in the ’50s.
Jason: The sound on this is the best of all three – the bridge pickup…it has the most body, most bite. The neck pickup is warmer with a lower output – it was geared towards jazz at the time it was made, so it’s much mellower and it’s kind of …not really geared for modern music. This one plays the worst of all three guitars, it’s harder to play. The frets are shorter, smaller. The bridge pickup is ‘the’ sound though. I’d be afraid to take it out to play though.
John: Hard to beat the sound on this, the bridge pickup is just incredible. It’s ‘the’ tone. The frets are small.
Eric: It’s a given – this is a super cool guitar. You’re holding a piece of history. The bridge pickup is the magic tele sound.
Mike: This has surprising output. The bridge pickup has really great presence. I love the way it responds. The playability is ok…it’s got low fret height though. Doesn’t have a modern tele feel – you can feel the fretboard. No complaints, it’s just not a feel I like.
Jason: This is great. The Tex Mex pickups aren’t the best of the three, but it’s the best priced. The neck feels great, it sounds alright. I think for the price, it’s great.
John: The pickups are pretty darned good – but not as good as the others here. For the money this guitar is a bargain. Any guitar is going to sound anemic next to that 58 Tele!
Eric: The sound is comparable to the Seuf. I think the Road Worn might be the coolest tele for the least amount of money that Fender’s ever done. The fretwork is comparable to the Seuf too. It’s nice Fender noticed other relics – they probably had a ‘Duh’ moment when they realized they could do it with their own designs. They nailed down their own history. Nice.
Mike: Not bad. It’s more akin to a Nash. The playability is good. This is a better made guitar than the Nash. Plays great and the fretwork is well done, but not as highly polished as the Seuf. It doesn’t have the sound of the ’58 or the wide range of the Seuf with its Fralins. It’s more one dimensional, but it’s good. The signal output is just lower than the other two.
Note: These are new relic’d guitars, made by Dave Seuferling in Kansas City and we just received them last week.
Jason: Great playability. The pickups are good – just not the total essence of the real deal. This is the best player technically. Aesthetically it’s more authentic looking. It’s handmade, not mass produced like the Road Worn. Great quality.
John: Playability is great on this. The sound of the Fralins is fantastic, but I’d use a Katana Boost. Again, any of these are gonna sound anemic next to that ’58.
Eric: I love the finish checking on this. It’s one of the best relic jobs I’ve ever seen. It feels really good. It sounds good- the Fralins are great.
Mike: The playability is good. The fretwork on this is excellent. You can get a wider range of tones than the ’58 due to the Fralins, but you don’t get the same ‘oomph’ of the ’58. Definitely one of the better relic jobs I’ve seen – not perfect, but a whole lot closer than most I’ve seen.
Here’s where the chips fell when the battle ended:
Jason: The Seuf OF-20: Just because, all told, the price, the availability, the quality…this has the most usage potential for me.
John: Seuf OF-20: It just played great. I’d still add a Katana Boost.
Eric: Fender Road Worn 50s Tele: It’s not just budgetary. Aesthetically I like it a lot. Maybe there’s some subconscious thing about that Fender mojo versus copycats, and having the Fender name on the headstock. Like I said, it’s nice they’re nailing down something from their own history.
Mike: The ’58 Fender Tele: The bridge pickup sounds better than any tele pickup I’ve ever heard.
Suef 2, Road Worn 1, ’58 Tele 1.