ES-335 vs Telecaster: Which is the Best Guitar for Country Music?

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Picture yourself as a budding country musician, ready to take on the world with your twangy guitar riffs and heartfelt lyrics. As you set out to buy your first guitar or add to your collection, you find yourself torn between two iconic instruments: the ES-335 and the Telecaster. Which one of these guitars will best suit your needs as a country musician? While both have their unique features and strengths, making the right choice can make a huge difference in the sound and feel of your music. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the ES-335 vs Telecaster debate and help you decide which one is better for country music.

Background on the ES-335 and Telecaster

Background On The Es-335 And Telecaster
When it comes to country music, the choice of guitar can make a big impact on the overall sound and style. Two popular options for country guitarists are the ES-335 and the Telecaster. The ES-335, developed by Gibson in the late 1950s, has a rich history and unique sound that lends itself well to the genre. On the other hand, the Telecaster, produced by Fender in the 1950s, has its own distinct qualities that make it a popular choice among country players. To better understand the differences between these guitars, let’s take a closer look at their backgrounds and features. For a detailed history of the ES-335’s evolution in country music, check out our article on the history and evolution of the ES-335 in country music.


The ES-335 is a semi-hollow body electric guitar that was introduced by Gibson in 1958. It quickly became a favorite among guitarists due to its versatility, widely ranging sound, and beautiful design. If you’re into country music, you’ll definitely want to check out the sound of the ES-335 as it has a very unique tonal range.

Design: The ES-335 is a beautiful guitar that combines the curves of an archtop guitar with the solidity of a solid-body guitar. With its semi-hollow design, it has a warmer tone than a solid-body guitar and a little less sustain than a full hollow body guitar. The ES-335 is designed with a maple center block to help reduce feedback, which makes it a more versatile guitar that can handle a variety of genres.

Sound: One of the most noteworthy aspects of the ES-335’s sound is its rich, round tone. This guitar is perfect for a country music sound that’s rich and warm, but with a little bit of bite. The sound is also perfect if you love playing the blues, rock, or jazz.

Playability: The ES-335 has a very comfortable feel and is fairly easy to play. It has a wide and flat fretboard that makes playing chords a breeze. The neck is also thin and tapered, so it’s ideal for players who prefer a slim neck.

Price: The price point for the ES-335 can range from moderate to high depending on the specific model you are interested in. But, it’s well worth the investment for any country guitarist who desires a versatile and beautiful guitar.

Top ES-335 Players in Country Music: There are so many fantastic players that have used the ES-335 in country music. Some of the top ones include Vince Gill, Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley. You can read more about the top ES-335 players in country music and how they have used this guitar to achieve their own unique sound.

The ES-335 is an excellent guitar for anyone interested in country music. It’s a gorgeous, versatile instrument that has been cherished by many guitarists over the years. If you’re considering an ES-335 and want to explore how it could work for you, be sure to check out our guide to choosing the right ES-335 for country music.


The Telecaster, also known as the “Tele,” is a solid-body electric guitar that has been a favorite of musicians since its introduction in the 1950s. Here are some key features of the Telecaster:

  • Sound: The Telecaster is known for its bright and twangy sound, which makes it a great choice for country music. It has a single-coil pickup in the bridge position and a second pickup in the neck position. This pickup configuration gives it a distinctive sound that is ideal for playing rhythm and lead parts.
  • Design: The Telecaster has a simple yet elegant design that has remained largely unchanged over the years. It has a distinctive shape with a single cutaway, which makes it easy to access the higher frets. The body is made from solid wood, which contributes to its bright tone.
  • Price: The Telecaster is generally more affordable than the ES-335, making it a great choice for budget-conscious musicians. It is available in a wide range of price points, from entry-level models to high-end custom models.
  • Playability: The Telecaster has a comfortable neck profile that is easy to play, making it a great choice for beginners and experienced players alike. It has a shorter scale length than the ES-335, which makes it easier to play chords and bend strings.
  • Style: The Telecaster has a classic look that is popular with musicians of all genres. It is available in a range of colors and finishes, from traditional sunburst and butterscotch to more modern colors like surf green and candy apple red.

The Telecaster is a versatile and reliable guitar that is well-suited for a wide range of music genres, including country. Its bright sound and comfortable playability make it a popular choice among musicians, while its affordability and classic design make it a great value for money.

Pros and Cons of the ES-335 for Country Music

Pros And Cons Of The Es-335 For Country Music
The ES-335 is a versatile guitar that has been used in a variety of genres, including country music. However, like any guitar, it has its pros and cons when it comes to playing country music. Let’s dive into some of the advantages and disadvantages of using an ES-335 for country music.


One of the biggest pros of the ES-335 for country music is its versatility. The semi-hollow body design allows for a wide range of tones, from the warm and mellow to the bright and snappy. This makes it ideal for a variety of country sub-genres, from traditional to modern country.

Another advantage of the ES-335 is its sustain. The semi-hollow body design helps to create a longer sustain than a solid-body guitar, which can give a more full-bodied sound to country guitar riffs and solos. Additionally, the ES-335’s wide range of tonal options make it ideal for playing both lead and rhythm guitar parts.

The build quality of the ES-335 is also a major benefit for country music players. The guitar’s construction is sturdy and reliable, which means it can withstand the rigors of touring and recording without losing its tone or playability.


While the ES-335 is a highly versatile guitar, it may not be the best choice for every country music player. One major drawback is its weight. The semi-hollow body design makes the guitar slightly heavier than a solid-body guitar, which can be fatiguing during long gigs or practice sessions.

Another potential disadvantage of the ES-335 is its price point. This guitar is generally more expensive than other popular country guitar models, such as the Telecaster. While it is a high-quality instrument, the cost may make it inaccessible for some players.

Lastly, the design of the ES-335 may not appeal to some country music players due to its more modern aesthetic. While the guitar’s tonal options are highly versatile, it may not have the same classic country feel as other guitars, like the Telecaster or the Stratocaster.

The ES-335 is a highly versatile and reliable guitar that can be a great choice for country music players. However, its weight, cost, and aesthetic may not make it the best choice for every player. It’s important to consider your own preferences and playing style when choosing the right guitar for you.

Pros and Cons of the Telecaster for Country Music

Pros And Cons Of The Telecaster For Country Music
When it comes to playing country music, the Telecaster is definitely a popular option among guitarists. This classic guitar has a distinctive twang sound that has become emblematic of country music over the years, thanks in part to the likes of Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.

One of the biggest attractions of the Telecaster is its simplicity. It has a basic design, with just two pickups, two control knobs, and a three-way pickup selector switch. This minimalist approach can make it easier to navigate for players who are looking for a straightforward sound, and those who prefer to keep their gear uncomplicated. The Telecaster’s thin neck and lightweight design also make it comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time.

Another advantage of the Telecaster is that it has a bright and punchy sound that can cut through the mix of a band. Its single-coil pickups produce a rich, twangy tone that is perfect for the country genre, and it can help to produce a crystal clear clean sound, which country music is known for. Its sound is also versatile and can be used for other genres. Additionally, Telecasters are comparatively affordable and can be a great option for those just starting out.

One potential downside of the Telecaster is that its sound may be too bright for some players. The single coil pickups can produce a sharp and twangy sound that may not be suited for certain styles of music, especially if you’re looking for a warm or mellow sound. The Telecaster is also limited in terms of tonal variety, due to its simple design, which could become a limiting factor for some players who are looking to experiment with different sounds.

The hardware on the Telecaster can also have some quality control issues. For instance, strings can be prone to breaking due to the sharp edges on the guitar’s ashtray bridge. Additionally, the exposed wiring on the Telecaster can be vulnerable to damage, especially if it’s being used regularly for gigs or touring.

The Telecaster’s bright tone and simple design make it a popular choice for country guitarists who are looking for a no-nonsense guitar that can cut through the mix. However, the lack of tonal variety and potential quality control issues might be drawbacks to some players. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference and playing style.

Comparison of ES-335 and Telecaster for Country Music

Comparison Of Es-335 And Telecaster For Country Music
Now that we have discussed the background and pros and cons of both the ES-335 and Telecaster for country music, it’s time for the ultimate showdown. Let’s compare these two iconic guitars head to head on four important factors: sound quality, price, playability, and style. This comparison will help you decide which instrument is the right fit for your country music needs. So, tighten your guitar strings and get ready to dive into this detailed comparison.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, both the ES-335 and the Telecaster have their own unique characteristics that make them suitable for different styles of music. Let’s take a closer look at the sound quality of each guitar:

ES-335 Sound Quality:

  • The ES-335 is known for its warm and rich tone, thanks to its semi-hollow body construction. The combination of a solid center block and hollow wings creates a unique tonal balance that is ideal for country music.
  • The humbucker pickups on the ES-335 provide a fuller and thicker sound, with less noise and interference than single-coil pickups.
  • The 335 also allows for greater tonal versatility, with a 3-way pickup selector switch that offers a range of tonal options.
  • The ES-335 produces a smooth and mellow sound that is perfect for rhythm guitar playing in country music.

Telecaster Sound Quality:

  • The Telecaster, on the other hand, has a brighter and twangier tone, thanks to its solid body construction and single-coil pickups.
  • This unique tone is perfect for lead guitar playing and for creating that classic country “chicken-pickin'” sound.
  • The Telecaster also offers great clarity and articulation, making it ideal for fast and intricate picking and strumming.
  • Additionally, the 3-way pickup selector switch on the Telecaster allows for a range of tonal options, making it a versatile choice for country guitarists.

In the end, the sound quality of each guitar comes down to personal preference and the specific style of country music being played. The warm and mellow sound of the ES-335 is great for rhythm guitar playing, while the bright and twangy tone of the Telecaster is ideal for lead guitar playing and creating that classic country sound.


When it comes to price, there is a significant difference between the ES-335 and Telecaster. The ES-335 is a more expensive guitar than the Telecaster, which can be a deciding factor for many musicians. Below are some points to consider when it comes to the price of these guitars:

  • ES-335: This guitar is generally priced higher than the Telecaster due to its semi-hollow body and high-quality materials. The average price for a new ES-335 ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. However, there are some models that can cost upwards of $10,000.
  • Telecaster: This guitar is often considered to be more budget-friendly than the ES-335. The price for a new Telecaster ranges from $500 to $2,000 on average. However, there are some limited edition or high-end models that can cost up to $4,000.

That being said, the price difference between these two guitars may not be a significant factor for everyone. Some musicians may be willing to invest in a more expensive guitar in order to achieve a certain sound or feel. Others may prefer to stick to a lower budget and opt for the Telecaster.

It really comes down to personal preference and budget when deciding between the ES-335 and Telecaster. Both guitars have their pros and cons, but the price point may be the deciding factor for some musicians.


When it comes to playability, both the ES-335 and Telecaster have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider:


  • The ES-335 has a larger body size, which may be more difficult for some players to handle, especially those with smaller hands.
  • However, the larger size also allows for more space between the string and the fretboard, making it easier to perform techniques such as bending and vibrato.
  • The neck of the ES-335 is typically wider than that of the Telecaster, which can also make it easier to play complex chords and fingerstyle patterns.
  • Additionally, the ES-335 usually has a longer scale length than the Telecaster, which can make it easier to play in tune and achieve a more precise intonation.


  • The Telecaster’s smaller body size makes it a more comfortable choice for some players, especially those who prefer to play while standing up or moving around on stage.
  • The Telecaster’s thinner neck profile also makes it easier for players with smaller hands to reach around the neck and play complex chord shapes.
  • The Telecaster is typically more lightweight than the ES-335, which can make it easier to play for longer periods of time without experiencing fatigue.
  • However, the shorter scale length of the Telecaster can make it more difficult to achieve precise intonation and may require more frequent tuning adjustments.

In terms of playability, both guitars have their own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the best choice comes down to personal preference and playing style. Some players may prefer the larger size and wider neck of the ES-335 for playing intricate chord progressions and solos, while others may prefer the lighter weight and thinner neck profile of the Telecaster for a more agile playing experience.


When it comes to style, both the ES-335 and Telecaster have their own unique vibes that lend themselves well to certain aspects of country music. Here are some factors to consider:

ES-335 style:

  • The ES-335 has a classic, sophisticated look that evokes the jazz and blues scenes of the 1950s and 60s.
  • Its semi-hollow body and f-holes scream “vintage,” and it often comes in elegant finishes like sunburst or cherry red.
  • Many country artists prefer the ES-335 for its versatility, as it can handle a wider range of genres than the Telecaster.
  • It’s also worth noting that the ES-335 is a bit heavier and larger than the Telecaster, which affects how you look and feel when playing it.

Telecaster style:

  • The Telecaster is a classic “working man’s” guitar, with a no-nonsense, utilitarian aesthetic that emphasizes function over form.
  • It’s often seen in solid colors like black, white, or blond, and its simple design lends itself well to customization (think adding a custom pickguard or swapping out the pickups).
  • The Telecaster’s simplicity also makes it a favorite of many country purists, who appreciate its straightforwardness and its connection to country and western music.
  • The Telecaster’s smaller size and lighter weight make it a more practical choice for gigs where you’ll be standing for long periods of time or moving around frequently.

Ultimately, style is a matter of personal preference. Some country musicians may prefer the sophistication and versatility of the ES-335, while others may opt for the simple charm of the Telecaster. The important thing is to choose the guitar that feels most comfortable and inspiring to you, and that helps you achieve the sound and style you’re going for.

Which Guitar is Better for Country Music?

After examining the pros and cons of both guitars, it is clear that neither the ES-335 nor the Telecaster is definitively better for country music. It all comes down to personal preference, playing style, and the specific sound you are looking to achieve.

ES-335: The ES-335 offers a warm, full-bodied tone with plenty of sustain, making it a popular choice for country guitarists looking for a mellower sound. Its semi-hollow body gives it a bit more resonance and depth than a solid body guitar like the Telecaster, which can be advantageous for country music. However, the ES-335 can be more difficult to play due to its larger body size and heavier weight. It also tends to be more expensive than the Telecaster.

Telecaster: On the other hand, the Telecaster is known for its bright, twangy tone that cuts through the mix and is instantly recognizable in country music. Its solid body design makes it more lightweight and comfortable to play, especially for guitarists who prefer a slimmer neck. The Telecaster is also generally more affordable than the ES-335. However, some players may find its sound too thin or lacking in sustain compared to the ES-335.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to you, the player. It’s important to try out both guitars and see which one feels and sounds best to you. Consider factors such as your playing style, the type of music you want to play, and your budget. Whether you ultimately choose the ES-335 or the Telecaster, you can’t go wrong with either one for playing country music.


After discussing the ES-335 and Telecaster in depth, we can conclude that both guitars have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to playing country music.

On one hand, the ES-335 is a versatile guitar with a warm tone that can easily match the country music sound. Its semi-hollow body allows for a wider range of playing styles, making it a great choice for those looking to experiment with different playing techniques.

On the other hand, the Telecaster is a classic country guitar with a bright and twangy tone that is ideal for traditional country styles. Its solid body and single-coil pickups make it a simpler and more straightforward instrument to play, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a guitar that’s easy to learn and play.

Ultimately, the decision between the ES-335 and Telecaster comes down to personal preference and playing style. If you’re looking for a more versatile guitar with a wide range of tonal options, then the ES-335 might be the better choice for you. But if you’re looking for a classic country guitar with a distinctive sound that’s perfect for traditional country playing, then the Telecaster might be the better choice.

So, in conclusion, both guitars are excellent choices for country music, and it’s up to the player to decide which instrument is most suited to their needs. Whether you choose the ES-335 or Telecaster, both guitars will give you the ability to create beautiful, timeless music that captures the essence of country music. So, grab your guitar and start playing!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I play country music on both the ES-335 and Telecaster?

Yes. Both guitars are versatile and can produce great country music tones.

2. Which guitar is more expensive, the ES-335 or the Telecaster?

The ES-335 is generally more expensive than the Telecaster because of its construction, materials, and pickups.

3. Can the Telecaster produce a warm, mellow tone like the ES-335?

Yes. The Telecaster with the right pickup configuration and settings can produce a warm, mellow tone like the ES-335.

4. Can the ES-335 produce twangy country tones like the Telecaster?

Yes. The ES-335, with its semi-hollow design and pickup configuration, can produce twangy country tones.

5. Are both guitars easy to play?

Both guitars are easy to play, but the ES-335 may be slightly more challenging because of its larger body size and scale length.

6. Which guitar has a more distinctive look, the ES-335 or the Telecaster?

The Telecaster has a more distinctive look because of its classic, iconic design.

7. Do the ES-335 and Telecaster have different neck profiles?

Yes. The ES-335 has a thicker neck profile, while the Telecaster has a thinner neck profile.

8. Can I use distortion pedals with the ES-335 and Telecaster for country music?

Yes. Distortion pedals are commonly used with both guitars in country music to create a gritty, overdriven tone.

9. Can I use the ES-335 and Telecaster for other genres besides country music?

Yes. Both guitars are versatile and can be used for a variety of genres, including rock, blues, jazz, and more.

10. Which guitar should I choose if I want a brighter tone?

The Telecaster is known for its bright, twangy tone and is a good choice if you want a brighter sound.


About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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