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FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Fender Baja Telecaster

Contributing Member

NorCal, yo

Watch Your Line
Sep 1st, 2012 10:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

I’ve not been a Telecaster guy, then boom, fortunate to land two Telecasters in as many months. So I will compare the Baja Telecaster to a modded 52 RI (custom neck and reliced body). My #1 guitar has been Kinman equipped (vintage blues) California Series Strat for some 14 years, mostly Gibsons before that.

I ordered the Baja Telecaster body and neck separately. I was suspicious about the neck, thought I might want to go custom anyway so it would make it easier to send it back & I’d just eat the shipping. I ordered the Sand body, I actually prefer that color though I was somewhat worried about the weight.

The Neck

Fitted it best I could and played it for an hour. Fit was pretty bad, which I’ll discuss below. Overall, the neck felt like a PRS neck, sort of wide and thick, medium jumbo frets, soft V felt like a C to me. I like a PRS neck, but not on a Telecaster: Strike one. The color was a uniform yellow, no grain, sort of lifeless: Strike two. It had a blem: Strike three. I sent it back.

The Body

I was alerted to a fit problem with the Baja neck, and checked the pocket against specs and two other necks. Sure enough it was cut wrong, it veed towards the bottom and appeared to be badly angled, wrong depth, pitched down. So, I had to decide whether to keep it or get out the tools. The color/finish is pretty amazing, it made me think it would look spectacular with a dark tinted neck and white clay dots…and I’m always tweaking the necks anyway. So out came the tools.

The ash is surprisingly soft. I think the loaded body is pretty light, much lighter than my 52 RI, and I can see why..this ash is damn porous lightweight stuff. But it chiseled fine and after a lot of trial an error and a few metal shims got a great set with a new neck.

Not to digress, but a point about a 0 degree set. I got the angle so flat and strings so low that you could almost get the strings to fret by blowing on them, and no buzz. But playing? The sound suffered terribly. Seems to me you need a little negative neck angle to get the strings to really ring out, if the action is super low the entire fretboard is just choked out, regardless of what you do at the bridge – within reason. A neck angle parallel to the strings is not a terrific idea, imho.

So set up correctly with a custom neck, plenty of sustain. Been playing it for a week. A/Bed against 52 RI the Baja sustain is as good, weigh/balance is better, the Baja feels great. When you play it on your leg you can feel notes sustain in your kneecap.

The pay-off is the pups and s-1 switching so I went through all the options and A/Bed the two guitars. The 52 RI has a slightly smoother, creamier sound, kinda like how cheaper pickups sound at lower volume…but in a good way. Overdriven, I like the unified, creamier sound of the 52 RI and it would be my pick for a loud and sloppy gig. But the Baja pups, yikes … they are really distinct and overdriven you get a great bloom while keeping the note intact & distinct. Really impressive, they sound more “expensive”..if that makes any sense. If I was recording the Baja would be the Telecaster I picked.

The S-1, out of phase, series, parallel thing is still in the experimental stage. But I’ve found the S1 down, position 2, out of phase position to be worth the price of admission – pinch harmonics for days. I can’t get this much singing out of my pearly gates LP, and with an Expandora and Bad Monkey in the chain – B. Gibbons is at my door asking for his sound back.

I'm not a fanboy when it comes to new gear, I buy lots and dump it in a matter of weeks. Not being a connoisseur of Telecasters, I may be missing it entirely. But I give the Baja Telecaster a thumbs up, if I had to pick between these two teles it would painful, but the Baja would stay.

(This message was last edited by FrenchFit at 11:08 PM, Sep 1st, 2012)

Contributing Member

NorCal, yo

Watch Your Line
Oct 14th, 2012 09:02 AM   Edit   Profile  


I sent the '52 RI off to have an arm contour and tummy tuck, sanded uniformily. Turns out after working on it the luither decides it's alder, not ash. So, that explains the weight. It also adds to the explanation as to why it sounds punchier and creamier.

Still liking the Baja body and components, though the vintage spec neck I added is a little tight for difficult licks. But, still prefer the alder '52 for rocking out and slide in open tunings.

(This message was last edited by FrenchFit at 08:40 PM, Oct 18th, 2012)


Columbus, Ohio

Apr 9th, 2016 09:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

Never liked the S1 on the Baja. Eventually sold my Baja after I got a Nocaster. I also have a parts caster that has a huge neck, even fatter than my Nocaster. The Baja neck is very nice though! Prefer nitro finish of my current guitars though. Would like the Roadworn more if it had a bigger neck and a 9.5 radius.

FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Fender Baja Telecaster

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