Joe Strummer Telecaster!
Fender Tele Guitar Review
You might be surprised to know that one of Fender’s most unique Artist Series guitars is a tribute to John Graham Mellor.
Uh, who’s that?
Once you realize Mellor is co-founder of Clash and better known by his stage name, you might just start to understand the Joe Strummer Telecaster.
Stummer died years ago -- on December 22, 2002, actually, from an undiagnosed heart defect -- and now, the Joe Strummer Tele model has died, too. That is, it’s been discontinued by Fender.
The Fender Artist Series Joe Strummer Tele looks just terrible -- and that’s what the company intended.
The problem is that in the eyes of some reviewers, it doesn’t look very much like Strummer’s unique instrument.
Strummer acquired his 1966 Telecaster in 1975, and the sunburst coloring didn’t fit his style, so he decided to paint it black.
He tried to do a good job.
He used gray car primer to cover up the sunburst finish, then he put the black spray paint over that.
But much of the black paint and some of the primer soon wore away. Before long, he had the most unusual looking Tele around.
And he added to the weird look with stenciling, doodle and stickers through the years.
The Joe Strummer Tele available from Fender is distressed to try to replicate that look.
It features an alder body with a maple C-style neck, a rosewood fingerboard and two vintage-type single-coil pickups.
An included customization kit that came with new ones had limited edition artwork and stencils so the buyers could try to get just the look they wanted -- depending on what phase in the electric guitar player’s career they wanted to replicate.
You can decide for yourself whether the road-worn look is properly applied -- and whether the look is appealing or not.
For a premium-priced guitar, some players and collectors may say no.
To see for yourself how close the Joe Strummer Tele you buy comes to the original, stop by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and have a look at the instrument Strummer left behind.
Joe Strummer’s legacy lives on because of the punk band Clash -- and perhaps because of the guitar Fender made in his memory, still often available used from online marketplaces.
The Fender Joe Strummer Tele is an unusual and interesting replica of one of the most unusual and compelling Telecasters ever to grace the world’s stages.
John Graham Mellor would likely be grateful that he is remembered.
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