Over the past few years, the Mexican-made Baja Tele has gained a truly steller reputation as being a superb sounding, beautiful guitar with a custom vibe at a reasonable price. There are those (the Baja has some fanatical fans) who whisper, is this the best Tele ever?
So given the success of the 1952 flavoured Baja, it is not surprising that Fender have extended the range with the introduction of the Modern Player Baja 60s Telecaster. Like the original, this is a classic Tele (none of that shaped body nonsense here) with the deluxe fittings that makes the Baja so desirable.
Some things are unchanged, there is still the traditional bridge with 3 bridge saddles and the S-1 circuitry is still there. But the Broadcaster and Twisted Tele pickups have been replaced by a 58 Tele at the bridge and a 58 Tele at the neck. The maple fingerboard is replaced by a rosewood board and the ash body replaced by alder. All these effect the tone, of which more later. There are also 3 new colours, sunburst, candy apple red and a lovely faded sonic blue
First impressions are…it is certainly a Telecaster and the construction is how we expect from Mexico these days. The basic joinery is flawless and all joints are very neat. The paintwork is superb (oh! that sonic blue!) and the whole thing just feels so well put together. The rosewood fingerboard is smooth and instantly playable and the 21 medium jumbo frets are well laid even if they felt like they could have done with an extra polish.
Played acoustically, there is a lovely open freshness to the tone, which certainly bodes well and the whole thing balances against the body very well. But then, Leo got the design perfect in 1949, so we expect that.
The 60s Baja has what is described as a 60s C shape. Together with the 9.5″ radius, this gives a really modern feel to it. So modern in fact that the neck shape does feel a little bland, The original Baja had a chunkier shape that was more of a handful and I really liked that as it felt that the guitar wanted to fight with me a little. Of course, neck shapes are hugely subjective, so what feels bland to me may be nirvana to you.
So bland or not, it is still a reasonably quick neck, Tuning with the vintage style pegs was rock solid and intonation seemed fine – 3 saddles is always a compromise here but the Bajas I’ve paled have always been spot-on with intonation. The saddles are described as chrome but look like brass to me and it certainly felt like it gave the guitar that slightly softer tone that I like so much.
The S-1 controls are unchanged in the new Baja, Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups (In Parallel), Position 3. Neck Pickup, Position 4. Neck and Bridge Pickups (In Series)
So it all looks good so far, tomorrow we’ll even plug it in. Cheers!