Mambo Sons' veteran guitarist Tom Guerra has had a love affair with the Fender Telecaster for the past 25 years. "I found my first Tele, a
stripped '68 maple cap, for $275 in the basement of Caruso Music in New London, CT, around 1981. This guitar had a naked lady decal and the name 'Jose' on the body, and someone had stuck an early
Gibson patent number pickup in the neck position. Now THAT was a magical guitar!" Guerra says he played the guitar with the legendary garage rockers "The Dirty Bones Band" until there was
virtually nothing left to the frets. "I sorta cheaped out on that guitar…the local fret guy told me it wouldn't be worth it to
re-fret it, so I traded him for a 1970's Stratocaster… A decision I regret to this day." Although Tom admits to being a Strat fanatic, he never lost his love for Leo's prior invention and has
owned many good examples since.
"In many ways the Tele is the perfect guitar, because it's so simple. A maple necked Telecaster has defined the sound of so
many different genres, and even today, almost 60 years after its creation, it's a pure tone that's hard to beat."
Throughout his 8 year recording career with indie rockers
Mambo Sons, Guerra has used Telecasters to powerful effect. Their second release, 2003's "Play Some Rock & Roll!" (Omnicide Records) opened with the telltale crunch of Tom's 1973 Tele,
modded with an old Gibson humbucker in the neck position, and played very loudly through a vintage Marshall amp. "When it came down to recording 'I Get Around Too Much' for the 'Play
Some Rock & Roll!' album, there was no alternative. The open G tuning, popularized by Keith Richards, necessitated that guitar."
Incidentally, "Play Some Rock & Roll!" was named as Top Indie Release of the year by NY Rock magazine. (For a sample of "I Get Around Too Much," visit Mambo Sons discography at
2005 saw Mambo Sons again in the studio to record their third album
"Racket of Three" and Tom again relied on several older Telecasters for his guitar sound, which were praised throughout the guitar world by the likes of Vintage Guitar, Legendary Tones and
Modern Guitar magazines, and many others.
Guerra elaborated, "Several cuts off 'Racket' needed the tone of a Telecaster to cut through the mix. Even though it's
not though of as a 'heavy sounding guitar, I played the Tele on some of the heaviest cuts, including 'Sidewinder Walk'" the albums hardest rocking tune. "My Telecasters include a couple of
stock early seventies guitars, and the '73 which has the Gibson humbucker in the neck position. I prefer maple necks for the bite that they provide, and my favorite Telecaster players include Roy
Buchanan, Big Al Anderson and Keith Richards, all vastly different players that share the quest for great Tele tone."
Guerra's Telecasters include a 1971 stock maple board
Telecaster, the modded '73 Tele, a stock rosewood board '74 Tele, and a recent blue floral Japanese Tele.
For more information on Tom and his group "Mambo Sons" check out
Tom Guerra's 1974 Tele