Leo’s masterpiece has always been a genius at reinvention. Slap a hum bucker in it? Sure! Put out a single pickup version? Why not!
But as the spec of the classic Standard continues to improve, does the world really need a Deluxe Tele? Let’s find out.
The Deluxe is certainly well assembled – but if you cannot bolt together a Tele then perhaps you need to move into the pizza business. The alder body is light and well- finished. I’m not sure that a Tele should have a belly cut, I always feel that a Tele should hurt a little. The neck is comfortable if not overladen with character but the rosewood board is nicely polished and the fretwork is a joy.
So it is a neatly assembled lump of Tele, but so is the Standard, so is the Mexican and so is the squire. So what makes this a Deluxe.
There are very nice locking machine heads and a bridge with brass saddle but what puts the Deluxe in this Tele are the N3 noiseless pickups and S1 switching system. The tones you get are more flexible than you would get from say a Baja Tele, as well as slightly polite versions of the classic Tele sounds, you can get a plumier jazz tone from the neck and a poppier tone from the bridge. The S1 switching gives all these a boost and unlike some switching systems does not complicate issues with a load of useless sounds. I like the no-load tone control as well.
So as a gigging or recording instrument it offers a lot, but it just lacks some character. I find the US Standard to have more of that classic Tele twang and growl and the Baja has more mojo than either of them.
But it is well made, comes with a great case and is reasonably priced. It will be the perfect Tele for a lot of people, just play it and check if it is the right one for you.