This year’s Summer NAMM show was packed with incredible gear, but the highlight of our time in Nashville had to be meeting country and guitar superstar Brad Paisley. We were lucky enough to get to talk with him about his side gig in comedy, love of the Fender Telecaster, and of course, his new signature worn Fender Telecaster.
Sporting a unique layered paulownia and spruce body, enhanced V-shaped neck and custom bridge pickup with a Twisted Tele in the neck, Brad Paisley had a lot of input into the specs of this guitar and rightfully so. Top it off with an unbelievable roadworn silver sparkle finish and (of course) Paisley pickguard and this is truly a guitar like none other.
Can’t watch the video at the moment? We’ve transcribed the interview below!
Sergio: We’ll I’m Sergio with zZounds and we’re here talking with Brad Paisley about his new signature Fender Telecaster and I’ve got to say, it’s a beauty of a guitar. As far as how this all came about, I heard there were a lot of prototypes on the road. Can you tell us a little bit about that process?
Brad Paisley: Well we tried some different things with this and I wanted to make sure it was the right weight. I knew a neck shape that I thought it ought to be, and you know, on top of that another important part of it is the pickup. That’s gotta be right. This sort of soup that becomes a guitar, it’s a really difficult thing to get a combination that always works, that you know you can mass-produce, and it was also important to me that we do this in a way that’s not gonna be cost-prohibitive to the everyday working musician.
And I’m really thrilled — it couldn’t have come together better than it did. The idea that first of all the finish is so cool, it’s such a great look, it’s just relic’d enough that you’re not worried about getting a ding on it, it’s already happened. And then on top of that every one I’ve picked up feels the same to me, it just feels exactly right. I told them about the weight that I wanted to get this to be consistent at because I feel like that’s as important a part of what makes a guitar resonate. Because you could play an eight-and-a-half or nine pound Telecaster and then find one that’s six pounds, and you can imagine that those are two different instruments — same electronics same neck. And throughout time they’ve fluctuated like that but when it comes to something like this, this wood is a lot more consistent in terms of its weight.
And what they found was they had to combine spruce with this and when you think about the great acoustic guitars of all time, they all had some sort of spruce in them and there’s no reason why that kind of wood wouldn’t have the same effect on something even that’s electric, that’s plugged into something.
Sergio: And you were talking about the pickups; you’ve got a custom ’64 wound pickup, you’ve got a Twisted Tele pickup in there. What is it about those pickups where it was like ‘I’ve gotta have those?’
Brad Paisley: Well, it was the combination in this guitar. Once I explained to them what I was looking for and they listened to some of my guitars, my ’68 Tele, my ’53 Tele, some of these ones that have really great remarkable things. They looked at them and they studied a bit about what was making them what they are, and yeah this was the right amount of windings.
It’s actually a little bit of a hotter pickup than I have in some other guitars and it has to do with how it interacts with the wood. Tim [from Fender] that winds them, he figured it out, he just figured out, this is what this guitar needs, this is gonna be magic.
Sergio: Yeah, that’s totally cool. Can you tell me a little bit about that neck on there?
Brad Paisley: Yeah, have you felt it?
Sergio: Yeah I felt it a little bit earlier, I mean that’s a nice chunky neck, I like it a lot.
Brad Paisley: It’s a slight V. It’s really a ’52. I’ve got a ’52 Tele and it’s almost identical. Even this angle in the ’50s they had that really quick thing. As well as the radius — everything about it, it feels like a ’50s Tele.
Sergio: And it’s already got some checking on the neck too, I really thought that was a nice touch. Was having it roadworn something that you wanted to do?
Brad Paisley: Yeah I don’t want something brand-new, pristine, it’s all lacquered up. I’m the first one to beat up a guitar so I like the fact that it’s always gonna be like that and there’s something about — I’ve got a few guitars that naturally have this gone (points to wear on left side of guitar body) — and there’s something about the bare wood on your arm that makes you connect with this a little bit more.
I just hope I see guys playing this; it would be fun to show up in a town and some openening act, some local band they’ve got one, I’d love to see it. I’d also like to see what they do to this. Do they change the neck pickup, what do they do to the finish of it? Do they put stickers on it? I mean, these aren’t precious. Do whatever you want, make it yours, change the pickguard, whatever. If you don’t want Paisley, if your name’s Plaid, put plaid.
Sergio: Or stripes, you know, put that on there.
Brad Paisley: Right, Exactly.
Sergio: So, I’ve got to ask you, I heard a little something about a comedy special.
Brad Paisley: Yes! I love writing things that are humorous. It’s the first time I’ve done something that’s 100% supposed to be humorous, as opposed to doing a song that’s kind of funny on an album or hosting the CMAs where you do a monologue with somebody like Carrie who’s so good at being part of that duo. But getting up and sort of walking this tightrope without a net, I’ve done that a couple of times and now this thing’s coming out in August and we taped it at Zanies here in Nashville, and it’s really fun to sort of show that side of my personality. I’ve always loved the way that music allows you to get away with some of these things that honestly you wouldn’t even attempt if you weren’t a musician.
Sergio: Yeah for sure. So obviously the love of the crowd is shared between musicians and comedians, so how is it different up there than playing music, playing guitar for a bunch of people?
Brad Paisley: It’s not a lot different because you’re trying to do something that creates a reaction. With a guitar it’s like you play a solo or a song that they love and you feel that call-and-response thing. With jokes it’s the same thing. It’s like I know this is going to get them to sort of react so it’s like riffs, it’s the same thing. It’s all just riffs.
Sergio: OK, my last question here is you’re obviously closely associated with a Fender Telecaster and I feel like it would be safe to assume that a guy like you has his choice of guitars out there, what is it about the Tele that keeps you coming back?
Brad Paisley: Well, it’s my influences. I mean, when I think back to like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and Vince Gill and these guys, their sound was one of these guitars and there’s something inherently country immediately when you play a certain way with one of these. It calls for a lot of that twang and that thing that you associate with the town we’re in right now. And you know this is the instrument that I always wanted to be associated with so I’m honored to have one of my own.
Sergio: Absolutely man, well thanks so much for sitting down, having a chat with us. Alright I’m Sergio, this is Brad Paisley, thanks a lot everybody.
Brad Paisley: Thanks.