Everybody knows Teles are made for blues, but the Muddy Waters Telecaster gives you sound as big as Muddy’s own music.
The man known as Muddy Waters was born McKinley Morganfield in 1913, but what kind of name is McKinley for a blues player? Before he died in 1983, this American musician had gained the title “Father of Chicago Blues”. He also fathered two other blues musicians, Big Bill Morganfield and Larry “Mud Morganfield” Williams.
First released as the Fender , the popular model went into standard production. Now, however, it has been discontinued by the company. Because of its recent vintage model, however, good ones -- nearly new ones, in fact -- are still available from online used marketplaces like eBay.
Features included in the production model include a ‘50s Tele ash body, a maple ‘62 Custom Tele neck with rosewood fretboard and two U.S. special vintage pickups with three-way switching.
Vintage-style machine heads, an American Vintage ‘52 Tele bridge with brass saddles and 1-10 Fender amp knobs.
A likeness of Muddy’s signature is engraved on the neckplate.
Of course, if you’re familiar with Muddy, you know this model is candy-apple red.
And the brightness of the color and its application is amazing. The in-your-face color could easily show flaws, but it’s applied well and very durable, so there aren’t likely to be any for a long time.
You may notice that the bridge pickup is hotter than you usually expect from a Tele, and that will make your notes punchier than ever. That’s perfect for blues, and that’s the point, don’t you suppose?
You’ll also notice that the Muddy Waters Telecaster has a little less country twang than the average Telecaster, and for blues players, that’s not a bad thing.
The fat neck feels great in big hands or in hands that are used to beefier acoustic guitars.
One weak point is the pickguard. Intended to look vintage, it really just looks and feels flimsy. Replacing it can be a challenge, too, since the holes are in a non-standard configuration. You’ll almost certainly have to drill some holes.
Made in Mexico with an original price tag somewhere between the top of the Mexican line and the bottom of the American-made offerings, the Muddy Waters Telecaster was a deal for blues players.
And it is still is, if you can find one. Fortunately, there still seem to be plenty to go around -- so go ahead. Find a Muddy Water Telecaster and let yourself be surprised by the anything-but-muddy blues tone you’ll get with it.
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