Ibanez Talman TM302PM

Year: 2017
Finish: Blue Sparkle
Origin: China
Mods: Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickups, Schaller straplocks, proper Tele metal knob
Acquired: 2017
Still owned: Yes

What kind of guitar nerd loves Fender but doesn’t have a Telecaster? Me. I’ve always liked what they do and how they sound, but I never found myself drawn to the slab body and traditional colors. I wanted a Tele for people who don’t want a Tele.

Ibanez to the rescue. I’ve lusted for one of their offset Talman guitars since the 90s, and they re-issued them in some new finishes and configurations in the mid-2010s, one of which was a Tele layout and an alder body, a six-saddle bridge, and locking tuners for stability. After watching and waiting for a very long time, I spotted the right one: A used (but pristine, damn near new) version in that irresistible Blue Sparkle finish, whose owner had already upgraded with 500k pots and Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickups. These somehow offer the Tele sparkle with the additional girth of a heavy-rock/high output pickup. And I got it at an unbeatable price, which is the reward for lurking on Reverb for months.

While some folks are hesitant about guitars made in China, this gives them a good name — it’s rock-solid and flawless, and was easy to set up for my preferences. The neck profile is on the fuller side of C but it feels a lot like the Retronix R-800, so I adapted quickly. I play differently on it, in a good way. And OMG that growl is amazing; the power-packed pickups really elevate this one for me.