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FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Baja Classic Player Telecaster (This message was last edited by Backless at 07:58 AM, Nov 12th, 2006)
FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Baja Classic Player Telecaster
Wynantskill, NY USA
Nov 12th, 2006 07:54 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Let me preface this review by saying that I'm mainly a strat player having three including a CS 50's Relic and an EJ. I have been looking for something different and I always liked the old 50s vintage telecasters tone and looks.
Other teles that I've tried included CS Nocaster, several 52 AVRIs, MIM Classic 50s Tele, MIM Classic 50s Esquire and the Nashville Tele.
I had seen the Fender product release news on the Baja and it sounded interesting with the vintage style looks and the modern apppointments so I decided to check out my local shop to see if they had one and they did. After about 15 minutes with it through a HR Deluxe, I took it home. Here are my observations:
Body - Mine has a very nice blond transluscent finish very much like the 80s and early 90s 52 vintage reissues. You know the nice yellow blond before they went to the pumpkin orange shade that you see now. The finish is speced as a polyester and appears to be applied a bit thinner than the MIM 50s Telecasters that I've tried. The ash has a very nice grain pattern and appears to be 2 pieces. It's what I would consider a mid weight body as the whole guitar weighs in at exactly 8 lbs - 0 oz. on my digital fish scale.
Neck - the neck has a slight amber tint to it and has a VERY soft "V" feel to it...very reminicent of my EJ's neck with the exception that the fingerboard edges are not rolled as much. The neck feels slightly more chubbier than the MIM 50's classic tele but is still comfortable to play. This may be due to the flatter 9.5" radius. Frets are all seated and dressed very nicely. The nut has been cut correctly with equal spacing and the height feels good. The tuners are of the vintage Kluson type and feel similar to my EJ. Overall, a nice feeling and playing neck.
Pups - Very nice sounding. I still can't figure out if these are actual CS made pups or just CS designed pups that are made in the standard factory. In any event, they sound great to these ears. The bridge is called a CS "Broadcaster" and has a nice biting tone with those great squealing harmonics, but not harsh at all. The neck pup is a "Twisted Tele" and has a nice clear tone with good bass w/o being muddy. Like I said very nice sounding pups.
Electronics - In my opinion, this is where this guitar excels over the other 50's style teles that I auditioned. The 4way switch works the same as a 3 way with modern wiring in positions 1,2 & 3 (Bridge, Bridge/Neck, Neck). The 4th position gives a fat sound that is great for blues and lead rock lines. Very nice tone. The addition of the S1 switch gives you the out of phase tones for positions 2 & 4. The position 4 out of phase tone is similar to a wah set in a fixed position sound.
Fit and Finish - Overall the fit and finish are excellent . Mine has a tight neck pocket and perfect string alignment. The only thing I had to do was straighten the bridge a bit as it was slightly angled. This was easiliy done by loosening the 4 bridge screws,, lining up the bridge straight and tightening the screws back up.
In summary, I am very very happy with my Baja Tele. It looks like a 50s style tele and plays and sounds just as good as it looks. To me it is worth every penny of the $779 that I paid for it. The only thing I've done to my Baja is throw on a 52 black bakelite guard that I had sitting around. Other than that, I will not make any mods to this guitar.
I think Fender has a winner here!
I play a Guitar...
...made by a GIRL!!!
Nov 16th, 2006 12:24 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
This model seems to be the Telecaster version of the JV Strat...a GREAT guitar!
Wynantskill, NY USA
Nov 17th, 2006 01:30 PM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
IPLAYLOUD, I see your point as far as it being modified but yet still having that vintage appeal like the JV. I almost look at it sort of like the EJ of the Tele world. Big neck, flatter radius, bigger frets, custom pups and custom wiring scheme. The workmanship is just about as good as my EJ also.
But you are right...GREAT guitar.
Tele & Blues Deluxe - do I need more?
Nov 21st, 2006 07:04 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Count me in. Backless has written an exellant piece on this guitar - can't add anything to it outside of the fact that mine plays very nice and has great tone - super value and looks beautiful!
I would highly recommmend this Tele for classic rock and blues.
Hood River, OR
Feb 6th, 2007 10:45 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Shakin it's got it right - the Baja is spot-on for classic rock and blues. Love mine, really glad I decided to pop for it (and that after buying a CP60's Strat). That Nocaster bridge pup is one nasty hound with some amp or pedal overdrive.
Feb 6th, 2007 11:09 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Backless, great review. You took the words right out of my mouth.
Guy's, you should see how good the Desert Sand model looks with Tortoise Shell Pick Guard. I think this is what Fender should use instead of the white.
Feb 10th, 2007 07:39 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Well after playing my "GC loaner" for a couple of weeks I find the pickguard is bending up off the body below the fretboard (bubbling?)and this thing seriously needs a good set-up and intonation. Seems the neck pick-up really twangs on the D string, much more than the other strings. I am not going to worry about this loaner, but if the one I have on order is the same way, I may consider something else...:(
Feb 11th, 2007 12:16 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
How do you like your EJ strat. Is that the one with the 12" radius neck ?
Feb 14th, 2007 08:49 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
BuddyDog, The Desert Sand Baja I have has a couple issues also. The single ply whit pick guard is also buckling. It looks like one or two of the screw holes that were drilled for the pick guard are in the wrong spot. It looks like they just forced it on anyway, causing the guard to buckle. The other problem with the one I bought has rough fret edges. I think the fret edges are from the extremely cold conditions here. The humidity reading at Guitar Center is only 22%.
Neither one of these problems bother me. I'm putting a three ply, Tortoise Shell Pick Guard on. and I'm having it setup by my guitar tech. Cleaning up the fret edges are included in the setup.
I played a few Baja's that were very close to perfect as far as fit and finish. But, the Baja I finally chose sounds incredible. It weighs 9 lbs. and I think the weight has a lot to do with it. It has a great acoustic tone when unplugged and you can feel the neck really vibrate when playing.
When I get the tortoise shell guard on and it's set up properly. I'll have exactly what I want.
Los Angeles, USA
Apr 1st, 2007 11:05 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Backless, how does the Baja Tele compare to the CS Time Machine NoCaster?
New Joysee, USA
Apr 3rd, 2007 06:49 PM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Like Backless, I am mostly a Stratocaster player. Although for some time now I've wanted to broaden my tonal choices to generate vintage Telecaster sounds. I've been going to various music stores for the last few weeks, and finally discovered the Baja Telecasters.
I would not consider this to be a true purists guitar, because of the flat fretboard, larger frets and special wiring. But this is, as stated by Fender, a player's instrument that looks like the vintage deal from five feet away. It is a respectable, great sounding, great looking Telecaster for not a lot of money.
Anyhow, long story short, I had the privilege of playing a few of the Sand ones, and the Blonde ones also. The more I played 'em the more I liked 'em. Once I could get past the thick neck profile, I realized this guitar can get the sweet vintage Tele tones....and also get some extra tones on top of those thanks to the S1 circuitry and 4th position on the toggle switch. To my ear, the out of phase settings on the S1 sound a bit synthetic. But the 4th position toggle is real nice, and adds the extra pound of drive during a solo break, and that is a beautiful thing. Maybe it's not a purebred Custom Shop USA instrument, but for the $799 price tag, this is one heck of a lot of Telecaster. Me? I ended up coming across one of the vintage honey blonde ones tonight that had killer ash grain peeping through, and bought it tonight. Probably add more in coming weeks as I start learning what a Tele can do.
Wynantskill, NY USA
Apr 7th, 2007 07:15 PM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Sorry for not answering everyone....haven't checked into this thread fin a while.
LesK, the EJ is the strat with the 12" radius and I like it very much. I was always a 7.25 guy and never really got along with the flatter boards. In the last 10 years though I seem to be changing my preferences toward the flatter boards.
daho, the nocaster was very nice but had a much thicker neck (front to back). The Baja felt much better to my hands. The Nocaster was lighter in weight and had that classic tele bridge pup squeal. I would say the Baja bridge pup is a little less trebly and not as raw as the nocaster, but still has nice twang. My Baja though is the most resonant guitar I have ever played (including the Nocaster I tried as well as 2 CS Strat Relics I've owned). Unplugged, you can hit a note and bend it and it's like the Energizer Bunny...it goes on and on and on. The body just rumbles when you hit an E chord! I do have to say though that I did prefer the thin nitro finish on the nocaster although the Baja's finish is very nice.
The only problem I've had since my original review, is a case of fret sprout due to the dry winter here in upstate NY. This I've had with other guitars also and it generally goes away during the warmer months. I'll wait to see if it happens again next winter and if it does, I wil have the fret ends filed so it doesn't happen again.
Overall I'm very happy with the Baja and still having a lot of fun with it.
Orlando FL, USA
Apr 8th, 2007 07:21 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
I managed to discover a highly fingured neck Desert Sand Baja at my local GC and decided to sit down with it for a while. Never playing Tele's at all I was blown away by this find. I was only looking at the CP 50's and 60's, but I think the Baja is the gem of the bunch. The guitar resonates, as everyone has described, and the neck, though fairly chuncky, is a very comfortable profile. The 4-way switch and S-1 system add to the extra value of this Tele.
I left the store putting some money down on it, so I will own it soon enough. The flamed neck on this thing was amazing! so I cannot wait to post some pics of it...
Apr 30th, 2007 08:48 PM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Best neck ever.
Best pups ever.
I'm really happy with my Baja.
Hood River, OR
Jun 14th, 2007 12:37 PM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Like a few players before me have stated, I'm mostly a Strat player. I've been trying to find a Tele that really floats my boat, but have not been too successful. One of my buddies had an earlier MIJ version of a 50's Tele that really spoke to me - but it was his and he let it go. Always remembered that guitar, so I've kept my eyes peeled for a 50's style guitar but didn't want a AV52' because of the vintage frets and 7.5" radius board.
Then I found the Baja. It's pretty much what I was looking for in a Tele. I dig it. MJ frets, flatter fingerboard, 4-way with S1, brass saddles, and especially those fine pups. Sweet without being too strident.
Now I rotate it into action along with my other Strats and it's just so much fun to play (and listen to). I've found that during recordings with a full band (and another guitarist) the Tele is the PERFECT tool to mix with the other guitarist's P-90 equipped axe. When he uses his Tele - I grab one of my Strats.
Tele's are just amazing when it comes to occupying the perfect place in a full band mix.
Jul 6th, 2007 01:55 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
Ditto the good reviews. Mine is blond, a bit over 7 pounds, and a blast to play.
However, since you all brought it up, I do see that the newer 'lessor' models from FMIC, including the Highway1 gtrs, are coming out with 4 piece bodies, starting in 2007. Frankly, I would prefer a max of 3 pieces. I can guanantee you that there are no 2 piece bodies out there of this model - so look again if you think you have one. My Baja is definitely four piece, no question about it. FMIC doesn't give much away these days....
I am a fan of the new HWY1s for the most part, don't misunderstand, and now a fan of this particular gtr. However, this being said, I wish FMIC would come to their senses and stop doing the 4 piece bodies. To save $1.50 per body - if that - and lose some serious fans is just plain stupid... C'mon you guys.
And for those of you who would argue that four is an OK thing, how do you feel about five, or six? Or maybe we should go back to 1992-9 and use 5-7 piece bodies with veneers front and back, along with swimming pool routes? In the end, Fender set their own quality standards many years ago. Stay on the path, please don't cheap out your gtrs again....
USA / Pittsburgh
Mar 31st, 2008 10:40 AM Edit Profile Print Topic Search
I agree with Rooster about the 4+ pc bodies. I had a 5 pc HW-1 Strat, returned it for one with a 3 pc body, and I like it much better- the body has better resonance, however I don't know if that is why...but it would make sense if it were true.
For the CP Baja Tele, I had one of those for a while, 4-pc heavy body, very little resonance. I returned it because of the significant fret sprout, sharp, long ends sticking out, and the overall sloppy assembly. It seems like there is a lot of variation on these. I ended up with a FSR Ash MIM Tele. Mine is very nice, with a 3 pc body. I have noticed a lot of variation in these as well, though. Fender needs to stay on top of the MIM quality, IMHO... I know they are capable of excellent quality, because I've seen it, but they also put out some stinkers.
PS- my Day job is a Quality Engineer at a medical products company...
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(This message was last edited by Backless at 07:58 AM, Nov 12th, 2006)
FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Baja Classic Player Telecaster