Telecaster vs Stratocaster: What Are The Differences

Fender’s two most popular guitars are probably the Stratocaster and Telecaster.

Both guitars have been played by guitar legends such as Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Root, and Keith Richards.

They are used across different genres from soul to metal.

You don’t know much about either guitar, so how do you decide which one is a better fit for you?

What is the difference between a Stratocaster and Telecaster?

Some people say that you can’t go wrong with either guitar, but that is only somewhat true.

While Telecasters and Stratocasters are both amazing guitars, each is distinct as they have their own vibe.

One of the guitars will be more suited for your playing style and musical tastes.

There are many different versions of each guitar offered by Fender and players themselves. They are often decked out with different pickups and other appointments to make them more viable for a specific genre of music.

Fender has its Squier line of guitars for beginners and a custom shop for experts. Fender can and will build a Stratocaster or telecaster for any level guitar player.

Now it may seem confusing between all the different models and options, but I hope this article will sort out all of the differences between the two guitars.

Many individuals like to save money and purchase a Mexican Stratocaster or Mexican Telecaster, but for all intent and purposes, we will only be looking at American Stratocasters and Telecasters.

Checkout both of these guitars in our article about electric guitars for beginners

The main differences between a Strat vs. Tele

The Body: Very Similar

Both the Strat and Tele typically feature an Alder body. Alder is a tonewood that gives these guitars a good bite to their sounds.

There are other tonewoods that are available as well.

Another common tonewood used in both guitars is Ash.

The shapes of the Tele and Strat are different. This really won’t affect the playability of the guitars, but one may prefer one design over another.

The Neck: Favors Stratocaster

The necks of a Stratocaster and telecaster both have fenders traditional “modern C shape” and are made of maple with the option of have a one-pice all-maple neck, or a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard.

It’s up to personal preference what feels better playing.

Both the Tele and Strat have 22 medium-jumbo with a 25.5” scale, same nut width and fretboard radius.

The Stratocaster does have a larger headstock which creates a better tone.

So far both guitars seem as if they are very similar. Here is where the similarities end and the differences will be pointed out.

Pickups: Stratocaster Has More Tone Options

Both guitars come with single-coil pickups.

The stratocaster comes with three Fender Custom Shop Fat 50’s single-coil Strat pickups and the Telecaster has a Custom Shop Broadcaster in the bridge position, and a custom Twisted Tele pickup in the neck.

This leads to a different pickup selector switch.

The Stratocaster has a 5-way pickup selector switch, where the Tele has a 3-way pickup selector switch.

This means the Stratocaster has many more tone options and configurations when selecting different pickup configurations.

This leads to a much different tone between the stratocaster and telecaster.


–> Stratocaster Has Two Piece Tremolo System Compared to the 1 Piece of Telecaster 

The key difference in hardware between the stratocaster and telecaster has to be the bridge.

While both bridges have six adjustable saddles, the telecaster has a one-piece system where the stratocaster has a two-piece tremolo system.

This tremolo system allows a player to increase or decrease tension on the strings creating a vibrato effect. This makes it more difficult to keep a stratocaster in tune, but its not too difficult. Just make sure you set up the guitar properly.

Many players actually block the bridge turning it into a fixed bridge like a telecaster. This ensures the tuning will be stable, but at the same time disables the tremolo.

Check out some cool Tremolo Tricks For Guitars With Whammy Bars


Both guitars have simple electronics, sticking to the Fender tradition. The Stratocaster though has more flexibility with tone.

The Stratocaster has two tone knobs while the Telecaster has only one.

The Stratocasters two tone knobs correspond with the middle pickup and the bridge pickup.

Add this along with the 5-way pickup selector switch, the Stratocaster can create a multitude of different tones. It is more versatile than the Telecaster.

Stratocaster vs Telecaster: The winner?

The Stratocaster Wins 

I will have to give it to the Stratocaster. There are many more options with creating tones vs. the Telecaster.

While these guitars are similar on paper, the feel and sound of both are much different.

The best way to determine what guitar YOU like better is to go out and test the different models of both guitars and see what specs you like best.

Remember Fender offers countless customization options for both guitars. Get a guitar customized to your liking.

Both Stratocasters and Telecasters are great guitars, but you will eventually like one more than the other. One day you may own both or a few of each!

Here is a list of different musicians who owned a Stratocaster or Telecaster.

Take the chance to see each of their axes and see what specs they have.

Looking to purchase a new Stratocaster or Telecaster? 

Checkout Guitar Center, they have the best deals on Fender products.

They will have the Stratocaster or Telecaster that you want for specific specs at unbelievable price.