Some of the best decisions in guitar history were made for obviously non-musical reasons. Just look at Leo Fender, trying to turn a beautiful, luxury instrument into a mass-produced commodity and accidentally inventing the Telecaster. And the serendipity didn’t stop at Fender after Leo left in 1965.
Why was the semi-hollow Thinline Tele developed in the first place? Because the company lacked lighter ash and wanted to be able to use heavier wood without straining people’s backs. And why did the 1972 model humbucking pickups have CuNiFe magnets instead of Alnico? Because it was softer, and therefore easier to machine into threaded pole pieces. Sheesh, imagine what they could have come up with if they had prioritized making things sound good…
Either way, luckily or not, the 1972 Thinline Telecaster sounded great—very great. So the fact that Fender has now reissued this model to truer specifications than ever before, as part of its new American Vintage II series, might just be reason to put on a party hat and do a little dancing.
The main idea of the AVII line is to provide a more historically authentic experience than the Fender American Originals, which replaced the first generation AV reissues in 2018. In the case of the ’72 Thinline, this is aided endlessly by the fact that Fender now has a supplier of CuNiFe, which was commercially unavailable for decades.
Pickups aside, here we have a guitar that looks perfect. Our sample poly finish is unpainted ash; a sunburst version is also available, and a little less naturally you can also opt for Lake Placid Blue – a 70s custom option and super rare. It looks lush in the official photos.
Traditional construction dictates that the most important recess is cut out at the back, with the back panel bonded afterwards. The main part of the body of our examination instrument is made of two pieces of beautifully grained ash, joined in the middle by an almost invisible seam. The back is also in two parts, but this time with a more obvious, off-center join – well, your adoring fans will probably never see this bit anyway.
On the front we find the classic pearl guard and the small bridge with individual saddles in folded steel; at the other end of the one-piece maple neck, the familiar “bullet” trussrod tip protrudes on a headstock that’s tinted to match (close enough) to the body. Around the back there is a three-bolt F-etched neck plate with Micro-Tilt adjustment.
Arguably more important than all that is the shape of the neck itself: a medium C with a bent but correct 7.25-inch fingerboard radius. The frets themselves are Fender’s “Vintage Tall” type; it’s a potential debate-stirrer, but you can tell us they’re nothing to fear – maybe just a little higher than what you’d find on an original Thinline.
Here’s one last spec to note: the control pots are 1 meg, a touch of period correction that should ensure minimal treble loss between the pickups and the amp.
How semi-hollow is the hollow? If you’re a ’72 Thinline, not very: those big pickups need a big old center block to fit in, and with the treble side not even chambered, you’re left with a single cutout area behind the f-hole that would serve barely watering a hamster. The result, in the case of our guitar, is that it weighs over eight pounds. It’s still lighter than the average Les Paul, but it’s not a tennis racquet.
Still, there’s enough air here to create a much fuller acoustic tone than our solidbody Tele reference – and that bodes well for plugged-in fun, which begins with powering up a little black-panel combo.
The first thing that strikes us is the stark contrast to the sound of our standard Telecaster. Okay, that’s no surprise considering we’re dealing with humbuckers instead of single coils, but it’s immediately clear that these pickups are truly Wide Range. It’s possible that Seth Lover had magnetic fields rather than frequencies in mind when he came up with this name, but either way, these pups retain all the high-end sparkle of a traditional Fender type while adding all the a beefy PAF-style midrange loadout. . It’s a bit like playing a Tele and an ES-335 at the same time.
How much of this is due to CuNiFe? Perhaps less than you might think, given the way some specialist pickup manufacturers have worked around its rarity to achieve tonally similar results with other alloys, but there’s no doubting the unique quality of the Lover design. While it can’t offer the delicate shimmer of a solid body with single coils, this guitar has an equally sympathetic voice: thick and raspy in the mids, with a softly punchy attack on the wound strings and plenty of bite. at the top. .
In the middle position it could almost pass for a Rickenbacker 360, when you can even get away with a little jazz on the neck pickup if no one is watching. But the bridge pickup is the place to go for bold, chunky riffing, aided by a solid factory setup on a neck that starts out skinny in the cowboy area but builds nicely around the 12th fret.
A perfect replica, then? Well, we spent many happy hours with an original ’72 Thinline and it sounded noticeably sweeter than this one. But that could actually be down to the old magnets losing charge over the years – and while this new guitar might be a bit too sharp for some tastes, you can get closer to that smoother response just by pulling the control. up a notch or two.
What really matters is that the essential character of this reissue is incredibly faithful to the vintage model – which just shows what the designers at Fender can achieve when they put sound quality first.
Fender American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline
- THE PRICE £2,249 including hard case
- THE DESCRIPTION Six-string semi-acoustic guitar, made in the USA
- TO BUILD Semi-hollow ash body, bolt-on maple neck with Micro-Tilt adjustment, 7.25″ radius maple fingerboard with 21 Vintage Tall frets and bone nut
- MATERIAL Vintage-style machine heads, through-body bridge with curved steel saddles
- ELECTRIC Two Wide Range humbucking pickups with CuNiFe magnets, three-way switch, master volume and tone controls
- LADDER LENGTH 25.5″/648mm
- NECK WIDTH 42.5mm at nut, 52mm at 12th fret
- COLLAR DEPTH 19.9mm at 1st fret, 23.8mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 35.5mm at nut, 55.5mm at bridge
- LESTER 3.7kg/8.2lbs
- TO END Aged Natural (as reviewed), Tricolor Sunburst, Lake Placid Blue
- LEFT-HANDED Nope
- CONTACT fender.com