Best Non-Fender Telecaster Style Guitars Reviewed (By Brand) 2023

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Editor's Choice
G&L ASAT
  • Get Leo Fender's continuation of his classic Fender design. Including proprietary pickups and modern playability
  • MFR single-coil pickups have less noise and produce a more "hi-fi" and thicker Telecaster tone
  • The affordable Tribute lineup still uses USA-made components even while being built overseas
For Craftmanship
Reverend Greg Koch & Pete Anderson Signatures
  • The Pete Anderson gives you a classic Tele vibe and sounds with modern features that will suit modern Country and Blues players
  • The Greg Koch is a hot-rodded Tele that suits hybrid playing styles and tone freaks
  • Reverend Guitars makes high-quality and practical guitars for musicians who need their guitars to perform night-after-night consistently
For Modern Design
Godin Radium
  • This Tele-inspired guitar blends the tones of a Telecaster, Les Paul, and Stratocaster into one elegant package
  • Excellent value for money that punches well above its weight
  • Godin only uses Canadian materials and is made in Canada

Are you a Telecaster fan? Due to its unmistakable sound, the iconic, vintage-style Fender instrument has always been the preferred choice of many guitar players.

However, in recent times, more non-Fender Tele-style guitars are making their mark on the scene. These modern instruments bring great value for money and offer incredible tones and modern designs that rival the originals.

In this blog post, I’ve used my 25+ years of guitar playing to review the best non-Fender telecaster by brand so you can decide which is right for your playing needs!

Read on to see my top picks – you will want to take advantage of this resource.

Let’s get started!

The Best Telecaster Style Guitars By Brand at a Glance 2023

  1. G&L ASAT (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Reverend Guitars Greg Koch & Pete Anderson Models (Best Workhorse Guitars)
  3. Godin Radium (Best Forward Thinking Tele Design)
  4. Schecter PT (Most Versatile Lineup)
  5. ESP TE (Best for Hard Rock & Metal)
Editor's Choice
G&L ASAT

Go beyond the classic Fender Telecaster and experience the next generation of musical innovation with the G&L ASAT. Designed by Leo Fender and trusted by top music professionals, this sleek yet powerful guitar is the choice of discerning musicians who want an instrument that stands out from the crowd. 

The G&L ASAT features revolutionary Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups at its heart, offering a tight wind that reduces noise and increases output for a fuller, punchier sound. Whether recording in the studio or performing on stage, this guitar will ensure you have enough power to cut through any mix.

Mix in some modern ergonomic design and USA-made hardware for all models (even overseas), and you have a modern Telecaster that will surely bring a smile to your face.

If you’re looking for the true next-generation of the Fender Telecaster, look no further than the G&L ASAT.

Leo Fender himself started G&L (along with George Fullterton), and some may argue the guitars that he built for G&L were the continuation and improvement of his designs under the Fender brand name. While the G&L ASAT may look like a traditional Fender Telecasters, quite a bit makes them stand out and deserve a closer look.

The big thing with G&L is Leo Fender built proprietary Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups that you will find in most of the ASAT lineup. MFD pickups have a tighter wind that reduces noise and increases output. The result is a guitar tone that is more full, punchy, and full frequency. You also can adjust the poles in these pickups, allowing you to fine-tune the EQ response of your electric guitar.

G&L generally has more modern body contours than the vintage guitars that Fender guitars models most of their current lineup after. This design element gives you a more comfortable and natural playing experience with the guitar that can’t be understated enough.

The G&L ASAT comes in a variety of designs and price ranges. The Fullerton lineup is the American Made premium version of the guitar. While the Tribute lineup is their more affordable t-style guitars built in Korea but still use USA-made components like the pickups. So these budget-friendly instruments are still great guitars that punch well above their weight.

Just because Leo Fender famously said G&Ls were “The best bass and electric guitars I’ve ever made” doesn’t mean they replace the need for considering a traditional Fender Tele.

The G&L has a specific voice that may not satisfy the telecaster purist. There is something more meaty and modern about a G&L that doesn’t quite hit the same notes as those vintage-style guitars it’s modeled after. Some may still prefer a genuine Telecaster’s spanky and articulate nature, but this comes down to personal preference.

Suppose you’re looking for a modern take on Telecaster guitars, developed by Leo Fender himself. In that case, you won’t find a better alternative than the G&L ASAT Tele-style guitar.

Pros
  • Adjustable pickup polls give you more control over your guitar's EQ response
  • Great budget options that use USA-made pieces found on more expensive models
  • A more modern Telecaster design made by the creator of the Tele, Leo Fender
Cons
  • More affordable options will most likely need a good setup after the purchase
  • The pickups may be too "hot" for players looking for more classic clean Tele tones
Best Workhorse Guitars
Reverend Guitars Greg Koch & Pete Anderson Models

Are you looking for the perfect workhorse guitar to pair with your touring set? Look no further than Reverend Guitars. 

Known as a guitarist's brand, Reverend has crafted guitars with custom-shop quality at non-custom shop prices. Their two signature Telecaster-style guitars are ideal for any musician looking for a reliable workhorse guitar.

You can choose a modern take on a vintage t-style guitar to rock classic country twang with their Pete Anderson signature model. If you're looking to explore hybrid playing styles, grab Greg Koch's signature with modified p90s and Bigsby bridge.

So be it country or rock, if your music demands touring prowess, then blow everyone away at your next show with a Tele-inspired guitar from Reverend.

Reverend Guitars may not be on the radar of every guitar player, but they should be. Known as a guitar player’s brand and creates some custom-shop quality guitars for non-custom shop prices.

Suppose you’re looking for a workhorse Tele-style guitar that you can rely on gigging night after night. In that case, you must check out what Reverend has in the Greg Koch and Pete Anderson signature models.

These two telecaster-style guitars are each built with high-quality and modern components like Bonelite nuts, locking tuners, and chambered bodies. They both have great tones but serve two different types of players…so listen up!

First, the Pete Anderson signature guitar is a modern take on vintage t-style guitars with all the classic country spank you want. But in construction, lots is going on in terms of contemporary playability. There’s a roasted maple neck with a compound radius (10”-14”). This compound radius adds playability and quick “shreddability” that a classic Telecaster doesn’t have with the 9.5” radius. 

The Pete Anderson also comes equipped with two proprietary Reverend Talnico pickups. These pickups give this T-style guitar a vintage Tele tone that will make purists smile. You also have an innovative treble bleed control that allows you to roll back volume without choking out the high-end and a push/pull phase switch for increased tonal flexibility.

Second, the Greg Koch signature solid body electric guitars are a little more hot-rodded and modern takes on T-style guitars. Fixed with a Bigbsy bridge, P90 active-pickups for reduced hum, short-scale length, and flatter neck radius.

This guitar is built for players who want to play the entire neck of the guitar and experiment with hybrid styles of playing.

Both may be the best telecaster-style guitars on this list and should not be ignored. They are both pricier guitars (cheaper than a Fender custom shop) and don’t come with guitar cases. Depending on which model you choose, you could spend upwards of $2,000 for your new electric guitar, which makes this a serious investment over some of the other options on this list.

However, if you rely on your instrument for performing and need something that will hold up to the rigors of the road, then either of these Reverend T-style guitars is an excellent choice.

Pros
  • Reverend Guitars uses premium hardware and design that makes these guitars feel like customs
  • Forward-thinking features like active P90 pickups for reduced noise, locking tuners, flatter radius, short-scale, and Soft Touch Spring Bigsbys make these excellent gigging guitars
  • Excellent playability right out of the box
Cons
  • Neither series comes with a case
  • They are expensive
Best Forward Thinking Tele Design
Godin Radium

Get the best of both worlds with the Godin Radium! This off-the-beaten-path guitar combines a Telecaster's classic styling and twang with the warmth and sustain of a Les Paul. 

Godin's forward-thinking design brings you 9 incredible pickup configurations that will take you from country to rock, jazz, blues, and more. Every tonal niche is covered with this truly versatile instrument. 

What makes this electric guitar so appealing is its value for money. It punches way above its weight when it comes to tone, construction quality, and playability. Godin's also known for impeccable craftsmanship being carefully constructed with attention to detail, meaning you'll be playing an instrument that looks as good as it sounds! 

For those who want flexibility in tone, modern playability, and excellent craftsmanship, check out The Godin Radium.

Godin is a guitar manufacturer based out of Canada and built a name for itself by making some unique and forward-thinking hybrid guitars. Most notably, the Multiac is like an acoustic and electric rolled into one; It’s crazy.

They’ve since expanded into a portfolio of brands that includes Seagull, La Patrie, Norman, Simon and Patrick, and Art & Lutherie. Many consider Godin and its brands to be over-looked guitars that are fantastic value for money. It’s also worth noting that all their guitars are manufactured in Canada using Canadian materials.

While Godin makes their own version of the classic Tele-style guitar with their Stadium series, it’s the Radium series that adds something unique that makes this a must-have on this list.

The Radium combines Godin’s Stadium (Tele-Inspired) with their Radiator (Les Paul-Inspired) guitar designs. This gives you a funky mashing of two tonally different guitars into one package.

The Radium has an almost off-set Telecaster body with three pickups, a Godin manufactured humbucker in the bridge and neck pickup position, and a Godin Cajun single-coil for the middle position. A split coil tone knob with a 5-way selector switch gives you 9 different pickup configurations.

You can get meaty, mid-range tones to classic Tele and Strat jangle with this. It’s incredible how this electric guitar chameleons itself to whatever kind of tone you want to get out of it.

The guitar is a short-scale electric guitar with a soft-v-shaped neck and a 12-inch radius neck that is very comfortable to play. While all the hardware is high-quality and won’t disappoint you during live performances and recording sessions.

If you’re looking for an electric guitar that is a bit off the beaten path, will give you guitar tones from the most popular styles of guitar (LP, Strat, Tele), and is an excellent value for your money, then the Godin Radium is the Tele-style guitar for you!

Pros
  • The versatility of tones in the Radium makes this a guitar that can do it all
  • Beautiful offset Telecaster body style that has a unique look and feel
  • Soft V-Neck is exceptionally comfortable to play for long periods
Cons
  • All the controls and tones you can get out of this guitar may be overwhelming to some
  • Won't be vintage enough for some purist
Most Versatile and Genre-Bending Series
Schecter PT

Schecter is one of those guitar brands that might not gel with everyone's taste, but those who have taken a closer look will tell you how fantastic they are. Enter the legendary Pete Townsend of The Who, who played Schecters for some time! And now you can do the same with the Schecter PT, featuring a massive range of options to choose from! 

The PT has everything from Bigsby Tremolo and Floyd Rose with locking tuners to high-gain humbuckers and single coil pickups to Sustaniacs for any budget. It's like you get to build your own custom Tele just by adding your desired features - all within a single purchase. 

The coolest part about this guitar is that it can be used for almost any genre and playing style imaginable. Whether you want to start shredding metal solos or pick out country riffs, this beautiful ax can handle whatever sound you're trying to create.

Schecter is a very polarizing guitar brand. They often get thrown a lot of shade for making gaudy-looking metal guitars that cater to a teenage crowd. However, most guitar players are doing themselves a disservice by not taking a closer look at Schecter. The amount of praise they get from anyone who has played them and the diverse range of guitars they offer.

One such guitar is the PT, their Telecaster style guitars that offer something for everyone. First, it’s worth mentioning that PT stands for Pete Townsend (yes, the Pete Townsend from the Who), who played Shecters for some time.

Want a Bigsby Tremolo or Floyd Rose with locking tuners on your Tele stock? Check.

How about a choice of high-gain humbuckers, single coil pickups, Sustaniacs, or a combination? Check.

An option for any budget? Check.

If you look at the PT lineup of Telecaster-style guitars, you will definitely see something that will catch your eye. Whether it’s a classic t-style guitar or a modern high-gain shredder with some fantastic finishes (no crazy abalone or fret inlays on the PT models).

Some users have claimed that for some of the more expensive models, they thought the hardware should be higher quality. There have also been some comments regarding more budget-friendly models having sharp frets.

However, when you look at the crazy amount of people who sing the praises of the Shecters they own, I think this brand might be an underdog and worth considering. This is especially true if you want a modern electric guitar that can be used for any genre of music.

Pros
  • A versatile Tele-style guitar lineup that can be used for any genre or style of playing
  • Affordable prices that will fit most budgets
  • Purists will appreciate the PT lineup is more understated than their more Abalone-heavy metal-style guitars
Cons
  • Some of the more affordable models have been known to have sharp frets and lower-quality hardware
  • Will most likely need a professional setup after purchase to get the most out of it
Best for Metal & Hard Rock
ESP TE

Craving the classic style of a Telecaster but needing that extra power and versatility to unleash your inner metalhead? Look no further than the ESP TE lineup!

These Tele-inspired guitars are perfect for both rhythm and lead playing. And with the humbucker pickups replacing single coil models, you can take your sound up a notch. Plus, you can choose from a range of tones with options for Tele-style baritones or 7-string guitars.

Say goodbye to fretting over finding the perfect Telecaster for metal and hard rock – now you can get it all with ESP TE series guitars!

A Tele-style guitar has been used by many players beyond country, blues, and indie music. Many famous hard rock and metal players like Jim Root from Slipknot, Stephen Carpenter from The Deftones, and John5, to name a few.

If you want to add a T-style guitar to your guitar quiver but keep things aggressive, look at the ESP TE lineup of guitars.

The ESP TE Tele-inspired guitars stand out because of their disregard for tradition. ESP replaces single coil pickups with humbucker pickups. You can get a Tele-style baritone or 7-string guitar. If you want an EverTune bridge to keep your tuning intact for aggressive playing on stage and in the studio, then ESP has you covered.

When checking out the ESP T-style guitar lineup, you will notice some big swings in price. ESP LTD will be the Korean-made guitars that are more budget-friendly than the Japanese-made ESP (unless specified as USA-made). The Japanese-made ESP is a premium option beyond most people’s budgets. While LTD is Korean-made, they are still great guitars and have a loyal fanbase of players who swear by them.

If you’re a metalhead looking for the classic look, comfort, and playability of a Tele-style guitar that is great for rhythm and lead playing, then go check out the ESP TE lineup of guitars now!

Pros
  • Get a classic Tele-shaped guitar that gives you high-gain clarity perfect for chugging and solos
  • Choose between a traditional 6-string, baritone, or 7-string version
  • A Flatter neck radius allows you to keep the action low and shred up and down the neck with ease
Cons
  • The TE guitars don't have that classic twang due to the humbuckers
  • Non-Korean-made guitars are very expensive

A great guitar is only 1/2 the tone battle. If you want the perfect amp pairing for your new Tele-style guitar, you should check out my article, “The 5 Best Amps for Telecaster Guitars To Get the Most of Your Tone 2023“ now!

FAQ

What style is Telecaster good for?

Telecasters are renowned for their signature twangy sound, making them perfect for various genres – from country licks to blues and beyond.
 
However, they can also deliver rocking power when equipped with high-output pickups. From traditional country to outlaw blues and even indie rockers – the Telecaster is a guitar that can cater to everyone’s tastes!

What makes a good telecaster?

When looking for a Telecaster-style guitar, certain features make it ideal for playing many genres.
 
The signature twangy tone is crucial for a great Telecaster to ensure that each note is crisp and clear with plenty of sustain. For added comfort, look for guitars with comfortable body shapes and neck profiles and high-output pickups, like active humbuckers, for heavier playing styles.
 
To get extra resonance, woods such as Alder, Ash, Maple, or even a Mahogany body should be considered. High-quality hardware and electronics remove any tuning or stability issues and enhance your performance, so invest in upgraded bridges, nuts, and tuners for extra control.

Who makes the best T-type guitar?

The company that makes the best T-type guitar is a subjective question. It depends on what you want out of your instrument.

If you want a vintage-style, true-to-spec Tele, consider going with a Fender. However, if you want to expand into different tones, constructions, and features, consider checking out the options recommended in this article as a good starting place.

Are Telecasters easier to play than Stratocasters?

When deciding between Telecasters and Stratocaster-style guitars, which is easier to play comes down to the player’s preferences.

Generally speaking, Telecasters offer a more straightforward design that allows them to focus on playing rather than tweaking their tone. This can be beneficial for beginner guitar players as it limits the number of sounds they can generate compared to Stratocasters; however, it emphasizes mastering the fundamentals first.
 
Ultimately, both guitars have different playing styles, and it is up to the user to decide which guitar suits them best.

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that the Telecaster is here to stay. Though there are many great non-Fender options on the market, each guitar has its unique sound.

It comes down to personal preference as to which one you choose. In any case, I hope this blog post helped clear things up and guided you in choosing the best non-Fender telecaster style guitar for your needs.

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Choice
G&L ASAT
  • Get Leo Fender's continuation of his classic Fender design. Including proprietary pickups and modern playability
  • MFR single-coil pickups have less noise and produce a more "hi-fi" and thicker Telecaster tone
  • The affordable Tribute lineup still uses USA-made components even while being built overseas
For Craftmanship
Reverend Greg Koch & Pete Anderson Signatures
  • The Pete Anderson gives you a classic Tele vibe and sounds with modern features that will suit modern Country and Blues players
  • The Greg Koch is a hot-rodded Tele that suits hybrid playing styles and tone freaks
  • Reverend Guitars makes high-quality and practical guitars for musicians who need their guitars to perform night-after-night consistently
For Modern Design
Godin Radium
  • This Tele-inspired guitar blends the tones of a Telecaster, Les Paul, and Stratocaster into one elegant package
  • Excellent value for money that punches well above its weight
  • Godin only uses Canadian materials and is made in Canada
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AUTHOR
Brad Johnson
Brad is the creator of Song Production Pros. He writes songs and surfs on the weekends when he's not too busy with family or this website. He writes music under the moniker FJ Isles, and can be heard on all streaming services.