One of my contributions to this Telecaster roundup is the Arbor AS340, one of my favorite guitars. A little research reveals Arbor guitars are imported and distributed by South Carolina based Musicorp, LLC which also distributes Dean, Luna, Barcus Berry, J.B. Player, and J. Reynolds products.
I found my Arbor AS340 in a local Mom and Pop music store and was initially fascinated with its looks. It has black body bound with a cream white binding and a triple ply pearl pickguard. The rosewood fretboard is also bound with the same cream white binding and inset with rectangular pearloid fret markers which add to its elegant look. The 24.75" scale 21 fret maple neck has a nice glossy finish up through to the headstock. It simply looks elegant.
Features include a mini humbucker pickup in the neck position and a traditional Tele style single coil pickup in the bridge position, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, white pearl block position markers, chrome die cast machine heads, three position pickup selector switch with master volume and tone controls.
The body shape is traditional Telecaster with a string though ashtray bridge design and three way switch. The middle position is wired out of phase so that it has a nice nasal tone which lends itself to playing rhythm. Both pickups have a snap to their character and respond tremendously to picking attack; with the neck mini humbucker having a range that goes from snappy to jazzy depending on pick attack adding a nice fullness to playing in the neck position. The bridge pickup is a purist’s joy; snappy bright and aggressive perfect for Paisley bass note runs or a Buchanan blues squeal. I picked it up and it was perfectly setup and ready to play with excellent intonation. That could be the result of good local store care. For a guitar that can sound so traditional, the pickup’s versatility also allows it to travel around through any genre. These pickups respond very well to being overdriven. Country, blues, rock and jazz just flow out of it easily. I’ve noticed similar style guitars sporting both the Jay Turser and Arbor name so I assume some of the same Chinese factories are involved. This guitar is like a cream of the Telecaster crop for either brand name.
I can’t find what kind of wood the body is made of. I would assume basswood but from the snappy response of the bridge pup, I wouldn’t rule out either poplar or alder.
Pound for pound, the Arbor AS340 is a great guitar value that can compete favorable with middle market guitars. It’s beautiful to look at and a dream to play.
Price: ~$195.00 USD
Pros: Good playability and versatile tones