Will Fender’s take on the LP Junior mixed with an Esquire be the guitar I’ve been dreaming about?
Overview & Final Score: 8.3 out of 10
Fender is at it again with another new release that pretty much instantly won the guitar world over. The Noventa Telecaster is a single P90 take on the Tele/Esquire that is part of their Noventa lineup, which also features a 3 P90 Jazzmaster and dual P90 Strat. This is an Alder body Tele, with a cut Telecaster bridge, a single “Noventa” pickup, and a gloss polyester finish. Underneath the Pau Ferro fretboard is a full scale Maple neck, with a 9.5″ radius and 21 medium jumbo frets. Much like an LP Junior, the single P90 is controlled via a volume and tone pot and nothing more. The ’60s C-shaped Maple neck is a common and incredibly comfortable shape that Fender’s has been embracing for their MIM Telecasters, much like this one. Available in three stunning finishes including Vintage Blonde, Fiesta Red, and 2-color Sunburst, there’s something for both the modern flair and vintage enthusiast guitar player.
It would be easy to say “what you see is what you get”, but there is a surprising amount of versatility in this slab guitar. Where it differs from any other single P90 guitar is the inclusion of the cut Telecaster bridge. That and the alder body provide a very bright, chime-rich tone that you won’t get out of a Les Paul Junior. This really comes across when playing clean or atmospheric music, as there is a character there that is much more Fender than you might expect from a guitar like this. However, it also can nail that mid-rich classic P90 sound when you roll the tone down just a bit, which helps cut out some of those highs and re-focuses the tone for power chord-based punk music or “quackin” blues tones. It’s a flexible guitar that really lets you control the sound with your signal chain or picking attack, perfect for players who prefer a stripped down playing experience. For me, the Noventa Telecaster checks so many boxes tonally and physically, it’s my dream LP Junior meets Fender.
The thing that separates the Noventa Telecaster from the pack of sub-$1000 Mexican Teles is the playability in my opinion. I was skeptical of the price for such a stripped down product, but upon picking it up I’m pretty okay with it. The neck is super smooth and comfortable, a lot like the Fender Vintera Road Worn Tele that I absolutely LOVED. Fender seemed to do really well on the fretwork and setup, though they have to stop using these low string trees (@FENDER)! I’ve barely had to tune my Noventa Tele and it feels and sound stage ready out of the gig bag and box. There are a few complaints here, but everything else on the neck is near perfect and meant to be thoroughly played and abused. Plus, the strings that come stock really aren’t that bad where as they used to bug me on new Fenders and require immediate removal. Overall, there is lots to like and enjoy here, any of those minor complaints can be very easily and affordably altered to your taste as well.
Finish & Construction: 9
How can you not love the look of this guitar? The 2-tone Sunburst finish is flawless but also really lets some of the natural wood grain shine through which I much prefer on guitars. There are no real obvious errors or flaws, despite the pickup being just a bit uneven (but easily screwed back into place). You can tell the QA/QC at the Mexican factory is pretty much rock solid at the moment, as this is just the latest in a long line of really well made MIM Fenders that have come through my door. The playability and playing performance is very reassuring after my initial concerns about the price. It’s really rugged and durable, with not a lot to break/go wrong in most scenarios, plus it’s going to be convenient to fix things over time. Let’s not forget how easy and fun Fender-style guitars are to mod if you ever fall out of love with an aspect or feature.
As much as I love this guitar, I think it could be a hundred dollars or more cheaper. It’s not as perfect as the Vintera Road Worn Tele, which is much closer in price to this than the Player Series is. The Noventa Telecaster is absolutely rad, but it is just so stripped down that you have to love the feel and the aesthetic (like I really do) to find the true value in the guitar. This is a guitar for people who group up idolizing Mick Jones, Johnny Thunder, and other LP Junior users, but just can’t stand playing Gibson’s scale length. It still gets a strong score because at the end of the day, it’s just a fun, well built guitar. And that fun and reliable factor is incredibly important, especially to me who is always trying to pull some sort of creativity or inspiration out of a guitar. Fender should be wary of price inflation in these Mexican-made guitars, even though they’re obviously killing it right now in the guitar design/marketing process.
I rocked this Noventa Tele is my recent demo of the crazy good Shotmaker Instruments Heroine pedal!
Good for: Punk, Garage Rock, Blues, Les Paul Junior Fans, Telecaster Players, Country, Rockabilly, Gigging Musicians