Fender American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline review: When quality matters the most

I have an interesting story to tell about the Fender Telecaster. 

I used to own one, a long story on that, but it was quite old. I still liked it, and even cherished it, but at the same time, I knew the guitar was not the best that Fender offers. I liked the playing style, how durable it was, and rarely ever thought about what it would be like to play the American version of the same guitar — the iconic, famous, and more expensive version.

I wish I had thought about it more. Just recently, I tested the newly released American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline that costs $2,400. That’s actually about $2,000 more than I paid for my Telecaster, and worth the extra money. Since both guitars look roughly the same and have a similar end-goal in mind (for me, that means crunchy rhythms with the ability to play lead), it might take a minute to explain why the quality is so outstanding on the new model I tested.

That said, you can also tell right away. It’s heavier, although that’s to be expected from a vintage model made from ash. (Fender likes to say it is “lightly made from heavy ash”). 

A few things I noticed about this instrument over a few weeks of playing.

One big thing is that I feel like I played better as a guitarist. That’s hard to explain, because it is subjective, but the thing is — my fingers moved a bit faster, the sound was better, there wasn’t any weird buzzing and the strings didn’t do anything strange on the fretboard. It’s a high-end guitar that plays like butter. I could glide over the frets faster and easier than other lesser guitars I’ve used, especially a lower end small body acoustic I use sometimes and a Taylor I use more often. When the instrument doesn’t get in the way of the sounds you are making, and does an exceptional job making those sounds for you, there’s a sense that you are playing better.

And I was. I noticed the tones and notes flowed out of me easier. I tested a small Positive Grid amp that emulates amp sounds and just felt in my zone. The amp and the app let you load songs from any artist and I played with a couple of Pink Floyd songs. It felt like I was on stage. The American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline just has that “something special” of a vintage, rock-solid guitar so I never had to think about simple things like if the guitar was in tune (it always was) or if the tones were emanating correctly (they were). Ask any guitarist about why spending more on something you love makes sense and you will probably hear about durability, longevity, professional quality, and sweet tones but most of all, it is a feeling.

My feeling was that the American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline made me play like I’m actually halfways good at this (after playing for decades).

It helps that the guitar is meant for “players” who know what to do. The tall frets are one big standout, giving me room to do some blues scales. The fretboard has a 7.25-inch radius for room to play like David Gilmour. I even found that the vintage quality is unmistakable. Fender says this instrument is mad eon the same factory machines they used way back in 1972 when it was released, and you can tell this is meant for a long shelf life.

What else is there to say? I loved every minute playing the American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline and, while I have to send it back after my test, it won’t be easy.