Watch the Tone and Gear online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from Country Guitar Survival Guide: Rhythm
The telecaster has long been the instrument of choice for country players and still is today. Though, early on guitarists were using archtops like Gibsons, Strombergs and Epiphones and Chet Atkins was known for playing Gretschs. It was players like James Burton, Luther Perkins and Don Rich that helped make the telecaster's twang such an integral part of the country sound. There are so many variations and tastes in regards to tele sounds that it would just be an argument starter to say that one kind of pickup, fretboard, string gauge, saddles blah blah...is the way to go. There is a sonic timeline for popular telecaster sounds that we can talk about. You could only use flatwound strings til the early sixties, the pickups were lower output by today's standards and the only effects you hear are spring reverb, tremolo and slapback delay. Most country players were using fender amps. In the late sixties Clarence White's use of the B-string bender in The Byrds helped to create the Alt-Country movement. By the seventies, you start seeing a rock influence on country music. Guitarists started to get a little more adventurous in there sounds. Some guys start using Stratocasters and even les pauls. The fender amp had new competition in the country market with companies like Music Man and Vox. The most surprising new effect to hear in country music was the phase shifter effect made popular by Waylon Jennings. In the eighties players have switched to solid state amplifiers. Amps like Pevey have replaced the tube driven fender amps. We also start to hear a lot of compression, digital reverb and chorus on guitars. We had reached the digital age and country guitarists were embracing it. Sounds became very effected. Somewhere in the nineties is when we see a shift back to the classic country guitar sounds. Tube amps, telecasters and minimal effects or at least the illusion of little effects had come back to roost. Recently, the cycle continues. Modern rock has left a strong imprint on country music. We hear more overdriven guitars and modern rock feels in the production.