Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Review & Prices

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Review
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  • From Fender Custom's 2014 Custom Artist series
  • Merle Haggard Signature
  • Made in United States
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 9.5" Fretboard Radius
  • Figured Maple top
  • Maple Center Block, Select Alder Wings with Tone Chambers, Laminated Figured Maple Top body
  • Figured Maple neck
  • Maple fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Single-Coil Tele (Single Coil/Passive)
  • Neck pickup: Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Single-Coil Tele (Single Coil/Passive)
  • 1 volume and 1 tone Dome knobs
  • 4-way Switch
  • 6-Saddle String-Through-Body Tele with Block Steel Saddles bridge
  • C Shape Bolt-On neck
  • 22 Medium Jumbo frets
  • Deluxe Cast/Sealed with Pearl Buttons tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 68
Sound 72
Build quality 70
Value for money 55
Overall Score 70
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $3900, which means that the Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster costs around 100% more than the competition. It might be due to it having additional features, but know that you can find cheaper similar alternatives. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in United States.

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Videos

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Tuning stability

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Neck access to high frets

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Neck profile shape

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster meets 6 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's a good guitar to start with as a complete beginner. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable neck
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's 25.5" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Scale Length Comparison
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the same scale length used in Stratocaster guitars, and it's one of the main reasons they have such a bright sound. It's considered a long scale when compared to most non-baritone guitars.

Since the distance between bridge and nut is relatively long, you'll need to give the strings more tension to get them in tune. This higher tension will allow for a couple of things. First, you can get a lower action (get the strings closer to the fretboard) because the strings won't 'wiggle' too much when pluck and won't cause fret buzz. This can allow you to use lower tunings without increasing your string gauge, and it will make it easier to press down the strings fast.

However, the frets will also have a wider separation between each other, which can make it harder to play, especially if you got small hands. The higher tension will also make the strings feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Neck Profile
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster has a 9.5" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's fretboard radius compared to others

This is the most common radius for Stratocaster guitars. It's considered curved when compared to most other models. This allows you to play chords very easily without muting strings accidentally and gives you more space between strings for fingerpicking. However, this curve also gives the guitar less allowance for lower action. If you bend too hard at the high frets, some of your notes might get muted because the curve will make the string fret out.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
9.5'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
D Neck Profile
1.685'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
D Neck Profile
1.685'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Nut Width
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Nut Width

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster has a nut width of 41.9mm (1.65''). This is considered a narrow width for a 6-string guitar. This means that this guitar will have a narrower string separation at the nut, which will affect your fretting hand.

If you are a player with big hands, you might find it difficult to play chords without muting strings. However, this is good for players who have smaller hands, as it will allow them to reach each string more easily at the nut.

Frets

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster Fret Size Comparison
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's frets are Medium Jumbo size. These sit somewhere between a Jumbo and a Medium fret. They're not quite as tall as a full Jumbo, so you'll still feel the fretboard, but you won't feel it as much as with medium frets. This is a good size if you want to make it easy to press the strings but would also like a little bit of ''feedback'' to know when to stop pressing so the notes don't go out of pitch.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 65
Chord Playability 80
Solo Playability 60
Playability 68

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Alder wood pattern used for guitar building
Alder Body
Figured Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Figured Maple Neck
Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple Fretboard

Alder Body: This is a lightweight type of wood that was popularized by Fender. According to them, it's a wood that offers a balanced tone but that favors the upper midrange slightly.

Figured Maple Neck: This wood has beautiful patterns only found in specific types of maple.

Maple Fretboard: This is one of the most popular types of wood used in all kinds of guitars. It's heavy, strong and compact, which makes it great for necks. However, it's also used for fretboards, bodies and tops due to its light color, resistance and beautiful patterns. When it comes to tone, it highlights the mid and high frequencies.

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Fender Custom. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

These are passive pickups, so you can expect a rounder sound and a moderade level of output.

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's configuration is SS. This is the classic Telecaster configuration and it's used mainly for playing clean or with low-gain distortion. It doesn't give you as much versatility as a Strat SSS configuration, but you might like the cleaner look of a guitar body with fewer pickups.

Versatility

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

Diagram

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster pickups switch selector and push knobs diagram
Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster's switch options

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with SS configuration and Passive pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Country or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 100
Sustain 65
Versatility 54
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 72

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster is made in United States. Guitars made in the USA have the reputation of being the best instruments you can get. This statement isn't as accurate as a few years ago, but you should still expect top-quality from a guitar made in this country.

Bridge

6-Saddle String-Through-Body Tele with Block Steel Saddles: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

More with the same type of bridge:

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster has a Bone nut. This material is one of the highest quality you can get. It provides excellent sustain and tune stability if cut well. The only disadvantage is that it's an organic material, so it's not consistent. Two different bone nuts, even if made from the same bone, will probably sound slightly different. However, bear in mind that this is only relevant when playing open strings.

More with the same nut material:

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Bolt-On neck joint. Even though this type of neck was looked down upon for a long time, nowadays bolt-on necks are well built and provide just as much sustain as any other join method. First of all, it's cheap to make because it consists of simply 4 bolts that attach the neck to the body. And you can travel with the guitar more easily, swap out the neck if you damage it, or upgrade to a more comfortable neck later on.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 60
Features 50
Quality Control 100
Build Quality 70

All Specs

Fender Custom Merle Haggard Telecaster
General
Brand: Fender Custom
Year: 2014
Configuration: SS
Strings: 6
Made in: United States
Series: Custom Artist
Colors: Sunburst
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Top: Figured Maple
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Maple Center Block, Select Alder Wings with Tone Chambers, Laminated Figured Maple Top
Bridge: 6-Saddle String-Through-Body Tele with Block Steel Saddles
Neck
Neck Joint: Bolt-On
Tuners: Deluxe Cast/Sealed with Pearl Buttons
Fretboard: Maple
Neck Material: Figured Maple
Decoration: Black Dot
Scale Size: 25.5"
Shape: C Shape
Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
Fretboard Radius: 9.5"
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 41.9mm (1.65'')
Electronics
Switch: 4 Way
Knobs: Dome
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Single-Coil Tele (Single Coil / Passive)
Neck Pickup: Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Single-Coil Tele (Single Coil / Passive)

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