If you’re looking to buy a Telecaster, then you’ll know that the Fender and Squier ranges are huge and include many different variations of the iconic shape, including the Thinline Telecaster. In this article, I’ll compare all the differences between the solid body Tele and the Thinline Tele to help you work out which is the best electric guitar for you.
The Quick Answer
The standard Telecaster has a solid body, whereas the Thinline Telecaster has a semi-hollow body. The Thinline Telecaster is lighter and has a warmer tone but is more susceptible to feedback compared to the standard solid body Telecaster which sounds brighter.
Here is a table highlighting the differences between the solid body and Thinline Telecaster.
|Solid body||Semi-hollow body|
|Weighs roughly 7.0-8.0 lbs||Weighs roughly 6.0-6.5 lbs|
|Sounds bright and more twangy||Sounds warmer and darker|
|Less prone to feedback issues||Suffers from feedback issues|
|Better sustain||Less sustain|
|Suits a wider range of music styles||Suits rock, jazz and blues mostly|
|Has a smaller pickguard||Has an extended pickguard|
|Controls are mounted on a metal plate||Controls are mounted on the pickguard|
The Fender Thinline Telecaster was released in 1969 as a weight-saving alternative to the standard solid body Telecaster which was released in 1951. These guitars differ from each other in terms of their looks, feel and tone.
The solid body Telecaster has a brighter and thinner tone compared to the Thinline Telecaster which has a warmer tone. The Thinline Telecaster suffers more from feedback issues and produces less sustain compared to the solid body Telecaster.
Which music styles do these guitars suit?
The solid body Telecaster is more versatile compared to the Thinline Telecaster and suits a wide range of genres from country to metal. The Thinline Telecaster suits jazz and rock ‘n’ roll mainly due to its warmer tone and is not suited for high gain genres such as metal as they produce too much feedback.
Why do the solid and Thinline Tele sound different?
The Fender Telecaster has a solid body which is usually made from alder, whereas the Fender Telecaster Thinline has a semi-hollow body which is typically made from ash. Both guitars have two single coil pickups traditionally, however it is possible to get humbucker versions of the standard solid body Telecaster.
Despite the guitars both traditionally using single coil pickups, they usually are voiced slightly differently to suit each model specifically. The different pickups combined with the different body style, is what mainly contributes to their different tones.
Here are some YouTube videos where you can listen to the Thinline and solid body Telecasters in action.
Fender American Original ’60s Thinline Telecaster
Fender American Original ’60s Telecaster
Look and Feel
The Fender Telecaster and Thinline Telecaster both have a single cutaway, slab-style body which does not feature any contouring (except on the Fender Ultra Telecaster). The main difference between them in terms of feel is how much they weigh.
Solid body Telecaster guitars typically weigh between 7.0 and 8.0 lbs, whereas Thinline Telecasters usually only weigh between 6.0-7.5 lbs. This makes the Thinline Telecaster the more comfortable guitar when playing for longer periods of time as it puts less stress on the shoulder or knee.
It’s very easy to spot a Thinline Tele from a regular solid body Tele. The Thinline version has an f-hole located on the upper half of the body unlike on the regular Tele. Also, the pickguard is a different shape. On the regular Telecaster, the pickguard is smaller and the controls/ pickup selector are mounted on a metal plate, whereas on the Thinline Telecaster the pickguard is extended and surrounds the controls and pickup selector.
The Squier and Fender line-up is divided into several “series” which include different shapes which are all grouped according to some shared features such as the neck shape, body wood, pickups etc.
You can find single coil versions of the solid body Telecaster in every Squier and Fender series and some also include humbucker versions. The Thinline Telecaster is currently only available in the Squier Classic Vibe and Fender Original ’60s series. However, sometimes you can find limited edition models and artist signature models in other series.
Here is a table outlining which models and pickup configurations are available in each Squier and Fender series.
|Squier Bullet||SS||Not Available|
|Squier Affinity||SS and HH||Not Available|
|Classic Vibe||SS, SH, HH and S||SS and HH|
|Fender Player||SS and HH||Not Available|
|Fender Player Plus||SS and SSS||Not Available|
|Fender Vintera||SS, SH and HH||Not Available|
|Fender American Performer||SS and SH||Not Available|
|Fender American Professional II||SS and HH||Not Available|
|Fender American Original||SS and SH||SS|
|Fender American Ultra||SS||Not Available|
|Fender American Ultra Luxe||SS and HH||Not Available|
In this next section we’ll take into the Fender versions of both types of Telecaster which fall into the American Original ’60s series.
As well as the obvious differences we have already discussed, there are also other specification differences between the solid body and Thinline American Original ’60s models that you might not expect.
Firstly, the Thinline Tele has an ash body and the regular solid body Tele is made from alder.
The Thinline Telecaster has a medium C neck which is slightly slimmer at the 12th fret compared to the ’60s C neck on the Telecaster but very similar at the 1st fret.
- Approx. neck specifications for the Thinline Telecaster: 0.84″ at the 1st fret and 0.92″ at the 12th fret.
- Approx. neck specifications for the Telecaster: 0.84″ at the 1st fret and 0.99″ at the 12th fret.
The pickup selector and controls are mounted on a metal plate on the solid body Tele whereas they’re just on the pickguard on the Thinline Telecaster. Other differences include the fretboard wood, string gauge and color options.
Both the solid body and Thinline American Original ’60s Telecasters cost approximately $2150 in the USA and £1800 in the UK.
Here is a table comparing the specifications of the Fender American Original ’60s versions of the Telecaster and Telecaster Thinline.
|Feature||Fender American Original ‘60s Telecaster||Fender American Original ‘60s Telecaster Thinline|
|Body||Alder (Solid)||Ash (Semi-Hollow)|
|Neck Shape||‘60s C||Medium C|
|Pickups||Pure Vintage ’64 Gray-Bottom Single-Coil Tele||Tim Shaw designed 60s Telecaster Thinline pickups|
|Pickup Selector/ Controls||Mounted||Not Mounted|
|Tuning Machines||Pure Vintage Deluxe||Pure Vintage ’70s|
|Color Options||3-Color Sunburst|
Burgundy Mist Metallic
Lake Placid Blue
Similarities between the solid body and Thinline Telecaster (American ’60s Original):
- Maple necks
- Gloss nitrocellulose body and neck finish
- 25.5″ scale length
- 9.5″ fretboard radius
- 21 vintage tall frets
- 1.65″ bone nut
- Dot inlays
- 3-way pickup selector
- One volume and one tone control
- 3-Saddle String-Through bridge design
- Hard case comes included
In the market for a new guitar? I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.