Our Top 7 Telecaster Players & How To Sound Like Them!

The Fender Telecaster is one of the world's earliest electric guitar designs. For nearly 70 years it has inspired artists of various genres, and remains as popular as ever today.

In this article, we've picked out our seven favourite guitar players that are synonymous with the Fender Telecaster. Not only that, but we also explain how to capture their signature sounds!

Elliot Stent

Elliot Stent

Created by Fender in the early ’50s, the Telecaster is a highly-recognisable instrument that has played a huge role in the formation of contemporary music. With its elegant looks and twangy-sounding single-coil pickups, the iconic Fender Tele is a common weapon of choice amongst guitar players.

In fact, some of the biggest names in the industry have relied on the Telecaster’s distinctive voice to create their own “sounds”. And we’ve shortlisted seven (well, techically eight) of our favourite guitarists that use them to their fullest!

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt

Status Quo

Status Quo Telecaster

Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt; has there ever been a more iconic guitar duo? Okay, there probably has – but these two legendary English gentlemen are often cited as the godfathers of boogie rock, through their work with Status Quo. Known predominantly for their upbeat, power-chord driven playing; Rossi and Parfitt have inspired future generations with their simple yet effective approach to the guitar.

Guitars

It’s an all-Tele affair when it comes to Rossi and Parfitt. Francis is synonymous with his heavily-modified 1957 Fender Telecaster, which he famously re-finished with green furniture paint. With the back half of its bridge plate cut off and replaced with a G&L Saddle-Lock bridge, this beaten-up instrument also boasts a trio of Lace Sensor single-coils; akin to a ’90s Strat Plus. The Fender Nashville Telecaster is the closest thing that you can buy, or you could just imitate Rossi and customise any Telecaster to within an inch of its life!

Parfitt, who sadly passed away in 2016, also had a long-serving Tele that he was rarely seen without. A white and well-worn 1960 model, Parfitt’s Telecaster was modified in a similar way to Rossi’s, with its bridge plate cut in two and the saddles replaced with a wraparound Gibson-style tailpiece. The pickups were believed to be stock, and as Quo’s rhythm guitarist he often used the bridge pickup only. Any Tele with vintage-voiced pickups and a Rosewood fingerboard will convincingly emulate Parfitt’s sound.

Amps

Francis and Rick have both used a mix of Vox AC30 and Marshall JCM800 amps throughout their careers. Forging their signature British sound, these amps are typically cranked to their fullest in order to achieve a natural-sounding overdrive. If you’ve ever been to a Status Quo show, you’ll know just how loud they are!

If you’re looking for an affordable and perhaps smaller alternative, a Marshall DSL or Studio series amp will do the trick. However, if you’d prefer to take the Vox route, there are inexpensive valve-powered versions of AC15 amps available.

Effects

As you’d expect with a bonafide, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll band like Status Quo; effects are rare. Rossi and Parfitt certainly aren’t and weren’t pedal fanatics; using rack-mounted Roland GP-8 multi-fx units instead of single pedals.

Rossi uses different overdrive patches depending on the song, and also employs a doubling effect with some echo. He uses this patch for the lead parts in “Rockin’ All Over The World” (Rockin’ All Over The World – 1977) when performing live, to emulate the double-tracked guitar sound achieved in the studio. In their Sound Like Status Quo video, Rabea and Matt used a TC Electronic Mimiq pedal to achieve a similar effect.

Parfitt also used the GP-8’s overdrive sounds to push his amps harder, and would occasionally embellish some of his tones with modulation. The intro of “Whatever You Want” (Whatever You Want – 1979) is a good example, with the arpeggiated riff drenched in chorus.

Recommended Status Quo Gear

Tom Morello

Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave

Tom Morello Telecaster

Tom Morello is one of the most original guitarists out there, whose approach to playing is very unique. Particularly evident in his work with Rage Against The Machine, Morello’s idiosyncratic style combines powerful pentatonic-based riffs with flamboyant DJ-inspired effects. The moment you hear Tom’s playing, you just know that it can’t possibly be anyone else.

Guitars

Of course, Morello’s gear plays a huge part in his sound. Although he is most associated with his blue “Arm the Homeless” superstrat, Morello has actually relied on his US-made 1982 Fender Telecaster more often for recording. And perhaps unknown to some, Morello almost exclusively uses only its neck pickup. This is yet another aspect of Morello’s style that goes against the grain, helping him to achieve those punchy, mid-heavy tones.

Amps

In conjunction with his guitars, Tom Morello has depended on his trusted Marshall JCM800 head and Peavey 4×12″ cab for almost 30 years. We believe that he must be a firm believer of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy.

Frankly, any valve-powered Marshall will get you within striking distance of his ballsy sound. The DSL series is an excellent place to start, although the new for 2019 Studio range features portable 20W versions of the JCM800.

Effects

Much like his amp setup, Morello’s pedalboard has been time-capsuled since the early ’90s and has hardly evolved. Tom has utilised the Digitech Whammy frequently in both his work with Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. If you’ve ever wondered how he achieved that high-pitched effect on the “Killing in the Name” solo (Rage Against The Machine – 1992); it’s a Whammy set two octaves up!

Apart from the Whammy, the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal is another key ingredient, heard prominitely on tracks like “Bulls On Parade” (Evil Empire – 1996) and “Original Fire” (Revelations – 2007). Delay is another staple for Morello, who has used Boss‘ DD-2 and DD-3 pedals in the past. The track “Gasoline” (Audioslave – 2002) showcases his creative use of delay, mixing it with a choppy tremolo effect in the verses.

Recommended Tom Morello Gear

Brad Paisley

Solo

Brad Paisley Playing His Fender Telecaster

Brad Paisley is one the most commercially-successful American solo artists of the 21st Century. A legend of the Nashville music scene, this 3-time grammy award-winner is a modern country superstar, who continues to carry the torch for traditional music from the southern states.

Guitars

Like many of his country contemporaries, Paisley has carved his signature sound with Fender Telecasters. Making full use of their classic twang, Brad has an arsenal of paisley-patterned Teles in his collection, but is perhaps most associated with his vintage 1968 Pink Paisley Telecaster.

Fender released a Road Worn signature Brad Paisley model in 2017, featuring an eye-catching Silver Sparkle finish and a paisley-themed pickguard. The construction of this guitar is interesting, boasting a light Spruce/Paulownia body that offers a bright, acoustic-like resonance. However, this guitar gets most of its tone from its custom pickups. The ’64 Tele bridge single-coil delivers all the spank you could ever need, while the Custom Shop Twisted Tele in the neck has a much rounder character. To emulate Paisley’s tone, any ’60s-style Telecaster would work well, especially one with more traditional pickups.

Amps

Brad Paisley has been a longtime user of Dr. Z amps, and has recorded and performed with various models of theirs including the Z Wreck, Z Verb and Mini Z. Paisley’s live rig utilises multiple Z Wreck heads that are set with contrasting amount of gain, which he switches between depending on the song. With EL84 power tubes and 30w of headroom, these amps are able to overdrive and compress nicely at high volumes.

In conjunction with his Dr. Z amps, Paisley has been known to use custom-made Bruno Underground 30 heads too. Often compared to Vox AC30 models in terms of how they sound, any AC30 or AC15 amp will convincingly emulate Paisley’s bright, chimey tones.

Pedals

In the spirit of signature gear, Brad Paisley has his own overdrive pedal with Wampler. Bearing his name, the Paisley Drive has a fairly transparent sound that largely retains your original tone, while adding some grit and, in the words of Brian Wampler – “beef”. He also uses Wampler’s EGO Compressor pedal to squeeze more juice out of his Tele’s single-coils, whch is essential for articulate country lead lines. Either way, these pedals are a key part of Paisley’s sound.

Many country players rely on delay pedals in order to create a short slapback effect, and Brad Paisley is no exception. His delay of choice is the Way Huge Aqua Puss, which uses analogue circuitry in order to produce bold, rich-sounding repeats. The advantage of analogue delay pedals is that their repeats typically sound warm and dark, meaning that the immediate repeat doesn’t contend with the brightness of the original note.

Recommended Brad Paisley Gear

Jonny Greenwood

Radiohead

Jonny Greenwood Telecaster

Jonny Greenwood is an enigma. A man of few words, Radiohead’s lead guitarist rarely gives interviews and tries to keep his setup fairly secret. Having said that, fans have accurately documented Greenwood’s guitar rig over the years, which has largely remained the same since the late ’90s.

Guitars

Jonny’s beaten-up, sticker-clad Fender Telecaster Plus has always been a mainstay and undoubtedly his number one guitar. Telecaster Plus models were only made for a short while in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and are considered rare and highly-desirable nowadays; thanks in part to Greenwood’s popularity.

These instruments were unique for their Lace Sensor pickups, and featured Red Dually humbuckers in their bridge positions. More apt for distortion, Jonny has used this fat humbucker’s tone to great effect in Radiohead, particularly on the band’s earlier albums The Bends (1995) and OK Computer (1997). As the Plus model is discontinued, any humbucker-equipped Telecaster will work well as an alternative.

Amps

Regarding amplification, Jonny Greenwood uses a mix of valve and solid-state. He has long depended on his classic Vox AC30 for cleans, which offers that clear and chimey British-style sound that is often synonymous with The Beatles.

His distorted amp is where it gets interesting, though. Employing an old-school Fender Eighty-Five, this oddball solid-state combo has been a part of Jonny’s setup since Radiohead’s first album Pablo Honey (1993) and can be bought second-hand for as little as £100. The Fender Champion is very similar though, and is much easier to find as it’s still in production.

Effects

Radiohead is an experimental band, and Greenwood along with fellow guitarist Ed O’Brien employ effects heavily in their work. While O’Brien uses delays and loopers to create interesting soundscapes, Greenwood is a little bit more chaotic in his approach.

Running an old Marshall ShredMaster pedal through his Fender Eighty-Five, tracks like “Creep” (Pablo Honey – 1993) and “Just” (The Bends – 1995) fully display how Jonny uses heavy distortion to create dynamic variation. A ProCo Rat pedal is a viable alternative for the ShredMaster, or you could get something fancier like the Friedman BE-OD.

The Digitech Whammy is a must have too. Famously used on the clean guitar parts in “My Iron Lung” (The Bends – 1995), Jonny pitches the pedal up an octave to emulate a 12-string guitar, while the early WH-1 Whammy’s poor note-tracking creates a glitchy warble. For the phase-laden guitar that begins “You” (Pablo Honey – 1993) to the bonkers filtered effects heard on the final solo in “Paranoid Android” (OK Computer – 1997), a powerful multi-modulation pedal like the Strymon Mobius will cover all of the bases.

Recommended Jonny Greenwood Gear

Peter “Danish Pete” Honoré

Andertons Video Team Manager

Pete Honore

How on earth could we make a list about Telecaster players without Danish Pete? Our very own video team manager is a real character on and off the screen, loved by our fans for his risqué humour and soulful playing. And as an experienced musician who has toured the world many times over with the likes of Tom Jones and Westlife; he knows a thing or two about road-worthy guitar gear – with a few tricks of the trade up his sleeve!

Guitars

More often than not, Pete plays his stunning Fender Custom Shop Telecaster in demos; unique for its vibrant purple finish. As a gift from his wife, Pete uses his Telecaster not just because its sentimental value, but more so for the unbelievable tones it offers.

Based on an old-school ’52 model, Honoré’s purple Telecaster is powered by a set of hand-wound Custom Shop single-coils, with a 51 Nocaster in the bridge and a Twisted Tele pickup in the neck position. Polar opposites in terms of how they sound, the 51 Nocaster pickup has a hot and spanky character (exactly how a Tele should sound!), while the Twisted Tele projects a smoother tone; akin to a Strat neck pickup.

Amps

Pete almost exclusively used a Mesa/Boogie Lonestar 2×12″ combo in his touring days. With 100W of headroom, this powerful 2-channel amp projects heaps of volume for stage levels, with radiant mid-scooped cleans and warm overdrive tones aplenty. Having sold his Lonestar, Pete’s custom Rift Amps PR35 is a close alternative and his no. 1 combo.

In most Andertons TV videos, though, Pete plugs into a Victory V40D Deluxe with a matching 2×12″ vertical cab. An exceptional clean pedal platform amp, the Victory V40D is driven by a 6L6 power section, letting you attain American-style cleans to ’60s British drive; all from its single-channel.

Pedals

As the video team manager at Andertons since 2015, Pete has played through literally hundreds of pedals over the years. So, when it comes to which stompboxes he uses on his own personal board – you know they must be pretty good!

Pete’s main pedal is the aptly-named ‘The Dane’; his very own signature stompbox from ThorpyFX. Essentially a 2-in-1 overdrive/boost, this versatile pedal covers a lot of ground. The overdrive side is super-responsive to your playing dynamics, with a high-headroom quality that excels for blues. The boost side is also very expressive, but has a much fatter sound for creamier lead tones. Things really get cooking when both circuits are used together.

Recommended Peter Honoré Gear

Jim Root

Slipknot, Stone Sour

Jim Root Telecaster

Jim Root is a true modern pioneer. Through his work with Slipknot, and to a lesser extent Stone Sour, Root’s aggressive drop-tuned riffs and liquid-like lead lines have helped to inspire a new generation of metal guitarists.

Guitars

Slipknot’s number #4 has used various guitars over the years, but he is most synonymous with the Fender Telecaster. His signature model, however, does not adhere to the typical Fender formula. Boasting a pair of powerful active EMG humbuckers, these chunky-sounding pickups are able to handle copious amounts of gain.

Other features include a Mahogany body for extra low-end girth, and a fast-playing neck finished in a smooth satin lacquer. As Rabea and Matt demonstrated in their Sound Like Slipknot video though, almost any guitar with active EMGs will get you close to Jim’s sound.

Amps

However, it’s not always about the guitar. Although Jim’s signature Fender model plays a vital role, it’s fair to say that his Orange Rockerverb 100 heads are more crucial in forming his distinctive sound. With gallons of gain on tap, the Rockerverb 100 has unique tonal characteristics; super-boomy lows, a scooped mid-range and a rich saturated crunch.

An Orange amp is a must if you’re keen to replicate Root’s heavy tones. And fortunately, his signature Dark Terror is an affordable lunchbox head that perfectly emulates it. The standard Dark Terror is an even more budget-friendly option, which you could pair with a smaller Orange 1×12″ or 2×12″ cabinet.

Effects

Jim isn’t a massive pedal fanatic, but he uses a few essentials when necessary. As he typically uses lots of gain, his Boss NS-2 Noise Supressor keeps unwanted hiss and feedback at bay. We’d recommend using noise gate pedals in almost any live situation where you’d need to turn up loud, but they’re imperative when playing through fiery amps.

Root also utilises an MXR Carbon Copy delay pedal, which he engages for thickening the sound of his solos. This particular pedal is adored by many guitarists, as it features analogue bucket-brigade circuitry that gives the delay repeats a darker, richer-sounding quality. Almost any analogue-style delay pedal will suffice, though, with affordable options from the likes of Tone City and Landlord FX.

Recommended Jim Root Gear

Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones

Keith Richards Telecaster

Just when you were probably thinking “how can they make a list of the best Telecaster players and not have Keith Richards?” – well, of course good ol’ Keef made the cut. Forming one half of The Rolling Stones’ guitar partnership along with Ronnie Wood, Richards is without a doubt the most influential player in our top 7 (ahem, 8).

Guitars

Keith Richards has used a raft of different guitars since the ’60s, and reportedly has a collection of over 3,000 instruments. However, there is one guitar that has been his primary weapon of choice since 1971; his ’53 Butterscotch Fender Telecaster. Nicknamed “Micawber”, this particular Tele has a number of customised elements that make it totally unique to Richards.

Missing its low E string, Micawber is set up for 5-string open G tuning; used for signature songs like “Brown Sugar” (Sticky Fingers – 1971) and “Before They Make Me Run” (Some Girls – 1978). Micawber was fitted at some point with an aftermarket bridge made of brass, presumably to yield more sustain. It also boasts a Gibson PAF humbucker in the neck position, and its bridge pickup was swapped with a Fender lap steel single-coil too. To replicate Keef’s tones, any Telecaster with a neck humbucker and a snappy-sounding Maple fingerboard should do it.

Amps

Richards has used a lot of amps over his six-decade long career, especially in the studio. Mesa/Boogies, Hiwatts and Ampegs have tickled his fancy, but Keith is perhaps most associated with Fender when it comes to amplification.

What’s interesting is that Richards prefers to use low-wattage combos, like Fender Champs, as they break up more easily at high volumes while remaining focused and clear. He has also been known to use these in conjunction with larger high-headroom amps, such as Fender Twins, which he’ll typically run clean. This therefore gives him the best of both worlds when playing live.

Pedals

Keith Richards used the classic Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone pedal to attain the harsh guitar sound in the renowned Rolling Stones track “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Single – 1965). Intended as a guide track that would be later replaced by a horn section, the iconic guitar riff remained and, like they say; the rest is history! Fulltone‘s 69 MkII fuzz pedal closely emulates the super-gritty tone of the Maestro, which Rabea and Matt demonstrated in their Sound Like video:

Want to Learn More?

If you’re interested in finding out how to achieve the tones of your favourite artists, check out more of our Sound Like articles by clicking here!

Elliot Stent
Elliot Stent
Elliot is a digital content specialist at Andertons, a guitarist and a YouTube gear demonstrator. Having studied Music and Music Technology, his interests lie equally in both performance and production. Favouring Fender instruments and Marshall amps, Elliot is also a pedal fanatic with a large collection of effects.

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