Almost everyone loves Telecasters. And it’s no wonder, because they possess amazing vintage looks and are fun to play. But not everyone wants a Fender or Squier Telecaster tho…
If you are after a non Fender or Squier Telecaster, you are in luck! I happen to love Telecasters, Fender and non-Fender ones. And this is why I was happy to put together this article listing the cream of the crop Telecaster style copy guitar. I also reveal the 3 best ones. If you have any questions, just check the FAQ section or leave a comment.
Let’s get started!
Author: Teemu Suomala
I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).
38 Telecaster Style Copy Guitars
Godin Stadium HT has great sounding Godin single-coils, D-shaped neck, vintage-styled ashtray bridge, GraphTech nut, and smooth hard rock maple neck. Godin guitars are one of the brands that have been a really positive surprise to me during the time I’ve been writing about guitars. They create high-quality and high-value guitars that are a pleasure to play.
Price Range Icon Meanings:
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|Model||Pickup Configuration||Pickups||Price Range||Check Current Price (affiliate links)|
|Harley Benton TE-20MN BM Standard Series||SS||2 x TE-style single coil pickups||$||Thomann*|
|Harley Benton TE-62CC||SS||2 x Roswell AlNiCo 5 TEA-F-CR/TEA-B Single coils||$||Thomann|
|Donner DTC-100 – Best Cheap & Beginner||SS||2 x Donner Single coils||$||Donnerdeal|
|Harley Benton TE-90FLT VW Deluxe Series||HH||2 x Roswell FLT-NI AlNiCo humbuckers||$||Thomann|
|Harley Benton TE-90QM||P90P90||2 x 2 Roswell P90 S AlNiCo-5 vintage-style single coils||$||Thomann|
|Harley Benton Fusion-T HH Roasted||HH||Roswell HAF-B AlNiCo-5 (bridge) and HAF-N AlNiCo-5 (neck) humbuckers||$$||Thomann|
|ESP LTD TE-200 – Best Tight Budget||HH||ESP Designed LH-150N (neck) and ESP Designed LH-150B (bridge) humbuckers||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Harley Benton Fusion-T EMG HT Roasted||HH||2 x EMG Retro Active Hot 70 Humbuckers||$$$||Thomann|
|Chapman Guitars ML3||HH||2 x upgraded Chapman humbuckers||$$$||Guitar Center – Thomann|
|Larry Carlton T7||SS||2 x T7 single coils||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|G&L Tribute Asat Classic||SS||2 Leo Fender-designed G&L MFD single coils made in Fullerton (CA, USA)||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|FGN Boundary Iliad MN||SH||1 FGN single coil (bridge) and 1 FGN humbucker (neck)||$$$||Thomann|
|Schecter PT Special – Best Budget||SP90||1 Schecter Diamond VT-1 Single Coil (bridge) and 1 Schecter Diamond V-90 (neck)||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Godin Stadium HT – Matte Black MN – Excellent Godin Quality||SS||1 Godin GS-3 single coil (neck) and 1 Custom Cajun single coil (bridge)||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Schecter PT Fastback II B||HH||2 x Schecter Diamond SuperRock Custom Alnico Humbuckers||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|ESP LTD TE-401||HH||Active EMG 60 & EMG 81 humbuckers||$$$||Thomann|
|Charvel Pro-Mod Joe Duplantier San Dimas Style 2||HH||1 Joe Duplantier Signature DiMarzio Fortitude (bridge) and 1 DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary (neck) humbuckers||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Schecter Sun Valley Super Shredder PT FR with Sustainiac – Great Metal Tele||HSustainiac||1 EMG Retro Active Hot 70 humbucker (bridge) and 1 Sustainiac (neck)||$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Chapman ML3 Pro Traditional Semi-Hollow||P90P90||2 x Seymour Duncan AlNiCo 5 P-90 single coils||$$$||Guitar Center – Thomann|
|Chapman Guitars ML3 Pro Modern||HH||1 Seymour Duncan Pegasus (bridge) and 1 Seymour Duncan Sentient (neck) humbucker||$$$$||Guitar Center – Thomann|
|ESP LTD TE-1000 Black Blast||HH||Seymour Duncan Pegasus (bridge) and Seymour Duncan Sentient (neck) humbuckers||$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Chapman Guitars ML3 Pro Traditional – Comfortable Contours||SS||2 x Seymour Duncan Hot Tele single coils||$$$$||Guitar Center – Thomann|
|FGN J-Standard Iliad||SS||Seymour Duncan STR-1 (bridge) and Seymour Duncan STL-1 (neck) single coils||$$$$||Thomann|
|Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 2 24 2PT HH||HH||2 x Fishman Fluence Open Core PRF-COC humbuckers||$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Schecter PT Van Nuys||HH||2 x Schecter USA SuperRock Vintage Humbuckers||$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|ESP LTD Eclipse ’87 NT||HH||1 Seymour Duncan JB humbucker (bridge) and 1 Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucker (neck)||$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|ESP LTD SCT-607B Stephen Carpenter Signature 7-String Baritone||HH||2 x Fishman Fluence SRC Signature||$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|ESP LTD TE-1000 Evertune Koa – Best Overall||HH||EMG 57 (bridge) and EMG 66TW (neck) humbuckers||$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|G&L Fullerton Deluxe ASAT Classic||SS||2 x Leo Fender-designed G&L MFD single-coils made in Fullerton CA, USA||$$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Maybach Teleman T54 Butterscotch||SS||2 x Amber single coils||$$$$$||Thomann|
|Yamaha Pac 1611 MS Mike Stern||SH||Seymour Duncan pickups neck position 59′ humbucker and Hot Rail humbucker in single coil||$$$$$||Thomann|
|Ibanez AZS2200-BK Prestige – Best Premium||SH||Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Custom Single-Coil (bridge), Seymour Duncan Magic Touch-Mini Humbucker ( Neck)||$$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Ibanez Josh Smith Signature FLATV1||SS||Seymour Duncan FLATV1 Custom (bridge), Seymour Duncan FLATV1 Custom (neck)||$$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Friedman Vintage-T with Classic 90s||P90P90||2 x Classic P-90 Single-coil||$$$$$||Sweetwater – Thomann|
|Suhr Classic T – Great Vintage Style Premium Tele||SS||2 x Suhr Classic T single coils||$$$$$||Thomann|
|Xotic Guitars XTC-1||SS||2 x Raw Vintage RV-TE set single coil pickups||$$$$$||Thomann|
|LSL Instruments T Bone One||HH||2 x Proprietary Humbucker||$$$$$||Guitar Center|
|LSL T Bone Rosewood Top||SS||2 x LSL standard pickup||$$$$$||Thomann|
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3 Best Telecaster Style Copy Guitars – My Favorites
Best Budget – Schecter PT Special
What I like
- Graph Tech Tusq XL nut improves sustain
- Schecter Diamond single-coils offer versatile tones
- A thin neck (1.653″ nut) paired with a C neck shape makes this guitar easy to play
- Grover Vintage tuners hold the tune well
- Overall great quality hardware
What I don’t like
- In some cases, small quality control issues
Who is it for?
If you are after a budget to mid-priced T-style guitar with versatile tones and easy playability, keep Schecter PT Special on your radar. It’s a true high-value instrument with great quality hardware and nice sound.
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Best Overall – ESP LTD TE-1000 Evertune Koa
What I like
- Evertune bridge and LTD locking tuners will keep the guitar in tune
- A thin U neck with a 1.653″ nut width makes this axe smooth to shred
- Comfortable to play
- Stays in tune well
- Premium quality
- Not that expensive
- Absolutely stunning
What I don’t like
- The use of plastic nut feels a bit cheap for this price
Who is it for?
If you are looking for a premium-level guitar with EMG pickups and smooth playability that doesn’t require you to apply for a second mortgage, ESP LTD TE-1000ET Koa is a great option. It does have a plastic nut, which is a bummer (doesn’t ruin the guitar tho), but if you replace that, this guitar is a true pro-premium-level beast with a reasonable price.
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Best Premium – Ibanez AZS2200-BK Prestige
What I like
- Extremely smooth and comfortable playability
- Spot-on sound
- Surprisingly versatile
- Alter switch enables connecting single-coil pickup and another coil of the humbucker in series to create different humbucker like tones
- Great hardware (Gotoh Locking tuners, Gotoh tremolo bridge, and bone nut)
- Could cost a lot more
What I don’t like
- Premium quality means a premium price
Who is it for?
I don’t like to call myself a fanboy. But if I had to choose just 1 brand to be a fanboy of, it would be Ibanez. And this AZ Prestige is a great one. It features
- Seymour Duncan Magic Touch-mini Humbucker
- Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Custom Single-coil
- Gotoh F1802 Tremolo Bridge
- 2-way mini alter switch & 5-way blade pickup switch
- Gotoh Magnum Locking tuners
- Stunning looks
- Smooth playability
And still, it costs under 2k. The money you have to throw in order to get this Ibanez is still a big chunk, I know, but still, the value for the money is outstanding. The best premium and pro-level Telecaster copy guitar to me.
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How to Choose The Right Telecaster Copy for You? – Buyer’s Guide
Let’s look closer at the 2 most important things, and then I’ll lay out some other stuff to think about for you.
Pay attention to the neck shape, nut width, and fretboard radius.
First, most Teles have either C or Modern C neck shape, but there are Telecasters with V, U, D, and other shapes out there too. Just get clear on what you want in terms of neck shape, and everything is easier. And by the way, none of the neck shapes I just mentioned are impossible to play.
To learn more about neck shapes, this is the best neck shape guide you can find.
Secondly, decide whether you are after a Tele with a narrow, medium, or wide neck. Usually, Telecasters have either narrow or medium neck and nut width.
- Narrow = 1.614″-1.65″ nut width
- Medium =1.651″-1.685″ nut width
- Wide = 1.686″- nut width
I have to note that it’s rare to find a Telecaster with a really wide neck.
Lastly, decide whether you want a curved or flat fretboard. There are some old-school Tele’s with curved 7.25″ radius out there, but most of the time you will find Telecaster with medium fretboard radius, which is around 9.5″-11″. Also, 12″ is a pretty popular too, it’s starting to be on the flatter side and everything above that can definitely be called a flat fretboard radius.
Also, keep your favorite fret size in mind. Usually Tele’s come with medium, narrow-tall, or medium jumbo-sized frets. Some ESP Tele’s have extra jumbo frets, this can be a great option for fast playing.
PS. Carvings and contours on the body can make playing more comfortable.
Don’t pay attention to woods with solid body electric guitars when thinking about the sound. The only thing really matters are the pickups.
So, here are a couple of cool pickups combos for you:
- SS = Classic Tele pickups configuration, great with rock, blues, and funk.
- SH = Single-coil on the bridge and humbucker on the neck. Really versatile and can handle almost everything(maybe still not the best metal-only guitar).
- HH = Can usually handle metal well too. Really versatile. Choose one with coil-split to get some of the single-coil magic too.
Again, get clear on what you want & need and choose accordingly. For example, if you are after a Telecaster that will obey you in your next bone-crushing metal session, go with double humbuckers.
- Tuners, maybe you want just regular tuners, or even locking ones…
- Bridge type: normal, ashtray, Evertune, or even Floyd Rose?
- Is a real bone nut must out of the box, or can you stand a plastic one and maybe change it to bone or Tusq one later?
- Color. This is important. Of course, you want something stunning.
Are Telecaster Style Copy Guitars Worth it?
Most of the time yes. And based on my own experiences, T-style axes have always been great. I have played Telecaster copies from Donner to Tokai and from Schecter to ESP. They all have been great. Even the cheap $140 Donner Tele I’m currently testing.
If you do a proper research, check some reviews online and watch a couple of Youtube videos, etc. you have a pretty good picture of the Tele that’s on your radar. And most of the time, T-style guitars are great, no matter if it’s from Fender, Donner, or Tokai.
What Style/Genre is Telecaster Good For?
It depends on the pickups. Normal Telecaster with 2 single-coil is a great rock guitar, but it can handle everything from blues to hard rock and from jazz to softer metal.
But if your Tele is equipped with 2 humbuckers, it can usually handle heavier stuff well too. For example, ESP LTD TE-1000 Evertune Koa is a true metal guitar.
Why Do Many People Prefer Telecasters?
Here are some obvious reasons:
- Telecasters look stunning.
- They have a long history.
- Telecasters are usually easy and at least really fun to play.
- Some people do prefer the Telecaster body over Stratocaster and Les Pauls.
- Many brands create T-style guitars
- Tons of Telecasters with different pickup combinations are available.
Pretty freaking amazing Teles I must say. You clearly don’t need to get a Fender or Squier Telecaster to have an amazing Tele. There’s an abundance of great T-Style guitars to choose from.
I hope this article helped you out, and maybe you even decided to get one of the guitars featured. If you have any questions, leave a comment, I and the GND team are here for you.
Now go, my son, and Rock!