Create the Fender Telecaster Thinline Tone with a Solid-Body Tele

How to Make Your Solid-Body Telecaster Sound Like a Thinline

A little history about the Fender Telecaster Thinline

The Fender Telecaster Thinline proved to be popular with country and blues players, and has been used by artists such as Albert Lee, Vince Gill, and Merle Haggard. In this blog post we’ll also discuss some of the factors that contribute to its unique tone. 

Fender Telecaster Thinline
Image credit: Fender.com

So what is that distinctive tone I’m chasing with my Tele to sound like a Thinline?

The semi-hollow Thinline body has less sustain than a regular solid guitar because it doesn’t have the same amount of wood on its strings. When playing single notes, this means that there isn’t enough resonating material for each individual note to ring out fully and bring depth back into your tone.

The solid body Telecaster produces a brighter, crisp sound with more twang and bite than its hollow bodied counterpart. This would be ideal for lead Guitar in Jazz style music where you want your notes to cut through the other instruments without getting lost among them or buried under layers upon layers of guitar tone.

The Thinline is noticeably warmer and rounder compared to its usually bright tone. The increased bass response gives them more kick-you’d want if your amp lacks clarity or wants extra punch though players might prefer an even balance between high notes

Zero budget, just a couple of pedals kicking around and an amp

Before I tell you the setup I got as close to sounding as a Thinline as I think reasonable, I want to tell you a little about my amp.  I own a Fender Blues Deluxe 1957 Reissue with several modifications.

My modified Fender Blues Deluxe 1957 Reissue amp

I loved my Blues Deluxe, but at times you may feel somewhat constrained by the stock issues.  So I made a few changes to mine.  After several years, the amp began cutting out at high power after no more than 15 minutes of playing.  Even more so on the clean channel.  It turned out the stock ceramic power resistors (R78, R79) had warmed the PCB to the point of charring.  You can check out my other post about this here.   So I replaced the carbon resistors with an axial wire-wound type that I lifted off of the board for better heat dissipation.  Amp hasn’t cut out once yet. If you need some of these resistors, I can sell you a set for a couple of bucks.

I also replaced stock-issued GrooveTube 6L6 tubes with Electro-Harmonix 6V6GTs.  I  also connect into input 2, lower output but accentuating the warm, creamy, darker sound the characteristic 6V6GTs additionally provide.

Fender Blues Deluxe Settings
Fender Blues Deluxe Settings

Settings: 

  • Tele connected to input 2
  • Playing on drive channel
  • Presence: 5
  • No Reverb (reverb settings is set to 3 but I’ve turned it off via the foot switch)
  • Master: 5
  • Middle: 12
  • Bass: 12
  • Treble: 6
  • Drive: 8 1/2

My 1999 Fender Telecaster American Standard

I had tried some 30 Teles before I found this beauty.  At the time, I was travelling frequently between Montreal and Chicago.  I took advantage of this so I often visited The Guitar Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois (where I also bought my acoustic Parkwood PW-510).  In Montreal, I was a regular customer at Steves, Diplomate, Archambault, and Long & McQuade.  But it was by happenstance that one of my work colleagues suggested I go to Kitts on Jean Talon.  I tried two teles.  A 1999 Midnight Plum, and an undated kit Wormoth.  I fell in love with the ‘99 Midnight Plum, which I bought for a mere $750CAD.

Settings:

  • Switch in the bridge position
  • Both volume and tone set to max high

Marshall GV-2 Guv’nor Plus Overdrive Pedal

On this particular day, I was fuckin’ around with different pedals and I had some already lined up in the batter’s box ready to be stomped at a moment’s notice.

By far my favorite all time overdrive effects pedal. I really appreciate my Boss OD-1, but I seriously have a crush on my Guv’nor. I also own an Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer but this is really my last resort for overdrive. I’m sticking to the Guv’nor

Marshall GV-2 Guv'nor Overdrive pedal
Marshall GV-2 Guv’nor Overdrive pedal settings

Settings: 

  • Gain: 1/3
  • Bass: 1/4
  • Treble: 3/4
  • Volume: 2/3
  • Deep: 1/4
  • Mid: 3/4

 

So if money is no object and you want to mod you solid-body to sound more like a Thinline. 

There are a lot of factors that go into making your solid-body Tele sound like a Thinline. The most important one is the pickups. You’ll want to switch out your standard Tele pickups for something that can create a more mellow tone. One option is to use a set of Lindy Fralin Thinline Blues pickups. They’re designed to replicate the sound of vintage Thinlines. Another option is to use a set of Fender ’69 Thinline Tele pickups. They’re based on the original Fender Telecaster Thinline 1968 design and they’re perfect for achieving that classic Thinline tone. whichever route you decide to go, just make sure you take the time to experiment with different pickup combinations until you find what works best for you.

It’s a wrap

Other than adding a chamber to the body, or even just drilling some holes in the back (don’t do this; I’m trying to make a point), remove some mass from the body (I am not responsible), or change out the pickups, you can get your solid-body Tele sounding more like a Thinline. If you have any other tips on how to make a solid-body Telecaster sound more like a thinline, let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading

So there you have it, I hope you’re successful with adding some effects to make your Telecaster into a convincingly sounding Telecaster Thinline. I hope this article helps you to get the sound you’ve been striving for. If there are other guitar sins that drive you crazy, let me know in the comments and I might just do an article on them in the future. Happy shredding!

About Grasshopper James 35 Articles
Hi I'm Grasshopper James from Montreal. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting. I've been rocking it here since 2007 with my Fender Stratocaster American Standard, Fender Telecaster American Standard, Fender Blues Deluxe '57 Reissue, Ibanez TS9, Boss TU-3, Boss ME-25, Boss GT-3, Boss OD-1, Ernie Ball Slinky 10-46, Jim Dunlop Jazz III Pick, and a Parkwood PW-510.

Be the first to comment