At a place as loud and hectic as Wildwood Guitars, you’d think the staff would bask in peace and quiet during the rare moments when the phones aren’t ringing. But, we’re a bunch of rockers, and tranquility unnerves us, so we prefer to spend our rare moments of downtime arguing and debating everything from Strat versus Tele to Zeppelin versus Sabbath. No one ever wins, because music and guitars are extremely subjective, and anyway the main goal is to provoke interesting thoughts and get each other’s goats (mostly the latter).
Recently, we got into a lengthy discussion over which of Fender’s American Vintage Thin Skins was the ultimate Fender. It’s a hard decision to make, because each Thin Skin in the Wildwood lineup is a beautiful rock and roll snowflake of incredible sonic power capable of wreaking destruction and havoc on a heretofore-unseen scale. Honestly, my favorite changes on a weekly basis! But, being diplomatic is boring and arguing is fun, so I’d like to present a case for my (current) favorite Thin Skin: the Inca Silver 1964 Telecaster.
Why Thin Skins Win
In case you’re new to the Wildwoodiverse, I should probably give you a quick primer on what makes Thin Skins so special before I go blathering on about how amazing the Inca Silver ’64 Tele is. Basically, Thin Skins are Fenders with one foot in Fender’s storied history and one foot in the future. They have a thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish that allows them to breathe and resonate like a vintage guitar, but they also have modern appointments like a 9.5” fretboard radius, narrow tall 6105 frets, and Custom Shop electronics to give you the best of both worlds. They have excellent handfeel and ergonomics, they’re lightweight, and their electronics have a healthy dose Custom Shop magic.
Personally, I love them with the intensity of a thousand suns because I am of Dutch descent, and Dutch people value getting a good deal over everything else. Thin Skins offer a spectacular playing experience that’s only a few miles away from the otherworldly delights of a Custom Shop guitar for about sixty percent of a Custom Shop price. Thin Skins give you an awful lot of guitar for the money, and that aligns perfectly with the values that my coupon-clipping Dutch father instilled in me.
A Silver Standard
Paul Westerberg of The Replacements is one of my favorite guitar players, and he was fond of saying that playing guitar is twenty percent about the notes you play and eighty percent whether or not your shoes match your shirt. The point is, looks are important in the six-string realm, and it was love at first sight for me when the Inca Silver Tele prototype arrived. When I took it out of the case, I saw fireworks. “More Than Words” by Extreme started playing in my head. I contemplated buying a ring. I saw fireworks. I wanted to drive to the nearest meadow and spin around with the guitar in one hand and a boombox blaring songs from The Sound of Music in the other.
The Inca Silver Thin Skin suits my personal tastes to a T. I like eye-catching guitars, but over-the-top, ostentatious finishes aren’t my cup of tea. Other people look cool when they play sparkly periwinkle guitars, but they don’t suit my personality. I like my guitars to look simple, understated, and elegant, a combination that people in the audience usually can’t look away from. So, naturally, Inca Silver is one of my favorite finishes! With a rosewood fingerboard, chrome hardware, and a mint pickguard, it has a sleek, sophisticated look that—to my eye—looks both natural and futuristic. Its vibe is half Jetsons, half antique, and it has my whole heart.
Get Totally Twisted, Bro
Nevertheless, my eardrums are even more infatuated with the Inca Silver Thin Skin Tele than my eyes. Sonically, it checks all of the boxes for me. I have a wide range of musical interests: classic rock, country, garage rock, shoegaze, doom metal, punk, jazz, and funk are all in my wheelhouse. So, naturally, I like guitars that can cover a wide variety of styles. My problem is that I also like really simple guitars. The fewer knobs and switches, the better!
I love the Inca Silver Thin Skin Telecaster because I don’t have to sacrifice simplicity for versatility. It only has a handful of sounds, but each tone is incredibly inspiring and suitable for all sorts of genres. To me, midrange is the most important ingredient to a good guitar sound, and the Custom Shop Twisted Tele pickups in our ’64 Teles have exactly the sort of midrange-forward frequency response that I look for.
I could write a hundred sonnets about my love for the Twisted Tele bridge pickup. Its bobbin is a bit shorter than normal, which makes for broad, rich midrange response. Also, the highs have plenty of sparkle and twang, and the lows are taut and defined. I rarely use anything but the bridge pickup (punk rock roots die hard, what can I say), and the Twisted Tele bridge is good enough to render a neck pickup completely unnecessary. It sounds full, punchy, and clear, and it works in just about any musical context. What more could you want?
That’s not to say I don’t get plenty of joy out of the neck position, though. Frankly, the fact that I use it at all is a testament to its greatness. Typically, my instincts are to rip the neck pickup out of a Telecaster, slap a new pickguard over the hole and rock it Esquire-style (I wasn’t kidding when I said that I like to keep it simple!). However, I find myself using the neck pickup all the time here! It’s warm and woody in the bass and low mids, but it has this wonderful Strat-like quack in the upper-midrange and delicious open highs. This makes for a clear, lively tonality that I find utterly addictive! It’s like Fender took the best parts of a Strat and Tele neck pickup and Frankensteined them together.
My hands love this guitar, too! I find the ‘60s “C” profile as comfortable as my favorite pair of sweatpants. It’s just right: medium thickness near the nut for easy chording, but meaty up by the twelfth fret so that soloing feels effortless. Of course, the narrow tall frets make bending easy, and they add some meat and gristle to the overall sound.
The Debate Rages On
I hope I have done the ’64 Tele justice by singing its praises for over a thousand words. Frankly, it feels like it deserves a couple thousand more! Though all of our Thin Skins are mighty beasts, the Inca Silver sweethearts reign supreme in my heart. Of course, I’ll probably change my mind in a couple months when the next Jazzmaster color comes in. But until then, the Inca Silver ’64 Telecaster will be my guitar of choice for lunch break jams!
Now that I’ve made my case for which Thin Skin sits atop the Throne of Ultimate Guitar Awesomeness, I want to hear what you think! Which Thin Skin haunts your dreams and inspires the deepest love and devotion in your heart? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to visit our Thin Skin page to further ogle these beautiful creations from our friends at Fender!