Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar debuted in 1950 as the one-pickup Esquire. Fewer than 50 of the white-pickguard, black-finish ash guitars were made, and many of those were returned due to the lack of a truss rod in the instrument’s bolt-on maple neck (without a stabilizing rod, the neck tended to bend).

By the end of that same year, a two-pickup model of the same guitar design, with a butterscotch finish and a black pickguard, was rebranded as the Broadcaster. These guitars featured a truss rod in the neck, and between 300 and 500 of the instruments were produced before Gretsch pointed out that it had been making a drum called the Broadkaster since the 1920s. Not wanting to slow down production, Fender simply snipped the word Broadcaster from the headstock decal that also included the company’s logo and shipped the guitars with no name on them at all. Only about 60 of these Nocasters, as they are now known, were built, making them one of the most collectible vintage Fender guitars available.

In April of 1951, the guitar finally got a name that stuck—the Telecaster. Early finishes ranged from "Tele blond" in 1955 to two types of sunbursts in 1957 and 1958. Any color in the Dupont Duco line was available for most of the 1950s, and in 1968, the company made a hippie-themed guitar with pink paisleys and blue flowers.

Subsequent models within the Telecaster family included the 1968 Thinline, whose ash or mahogany body was hollow on the bass side of the guitar—the empty chamber was revealed by an f-hole. A top-of-the-line Telecaster Custom from 1972 featured humbucker pickups, which gave the instrument a warmer sound than the bright one that had typified the original.

One of the biggest compliments the instrument has been given is the wide range of musicians who have embraced it. Elvis Presley and Merle Haggard played Telecasters, as did Buck Owens and Waylon Jennings. Eric Clapton played a Telecaster during his days with the Yardbirds (though he famously switched to a Stratocaster during his Derek and the Dominoes years), and George Harrison played a Telecaster during the "Let It Be" sessions. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has been playing a Telecaster Custom almost since it was introduced in 1972, while Bruce Springsteen posed with his Telecaster on the cover of "Born To Run." Last but certainly not least is Jimmy Page, who played a his 1958, hand-painted, "Dragon Telecaster" on one of Led Zeppelin’s most enduring classics, "Stairway to Heaven."


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Prince Remembered by Childhood Best Friend and Bandmate André Cymone : 'There ...
Billboard, April 28th

Morris also had a white Fender Telecaster bass that sort came with the situation [laughs]. Anyway, that's how Morris came to the band. This would have to be maybe 1973 or 1974, right around there. Prince and I were very dedicated, both very passionate...Read more

2016 New Orleans Jazz Fest's 'Locals Thursday,' April 28: All you need to know
The New Orleans Advocate, April 27th

Chickie Wah Wah presents two shows with acclaimed guitarists and/or singer-songwriters. At 8 p.m., see the pairing of Austin de Lone and Bill Kirchen. Kirchen, the “Titan of the Telecaster,” established his reputation via Commander Cody's “Hod Rod...Read more

Prince was a virtuoso guitarist, and this video proves it
The Boston Globe, April 21st

Playing a butterscotch Telecaster-styled guitar, he builds off Clapton's memorable bluesy wail into a soaring orgy of sustain and vibrato that soon releases into a frenetic workout. It recalls Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Hazel , and Jeff Beck. Dhani Harrison...Read more

Prince had the craziest, most wonderful guitars of any pop musician
Quartz, April 21st

The artist formerly, and forever, known as Prince passed away at his home in suburban Minneapolis today (April 21). He was a singular musician, showman, songwriter. He was arguably one of the most underrated guitarists of his generation, if not all time...Read more

Titan of the Telecaster joins guitar showcase
Times Colonist, April 21st

The native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is regarded as the “Titan of the Telecaster,” a player whose impressive form and finesse on the Fender favourite has been called upon to give that distinctive twang to records by Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Hoyt...Read more

1952 Fender Telecaster that belonged to Roy Nichols up for sale at Regina ...
Regina Leader-Post, April 12th

If you know about Merle Haggard, then chances are you also know about Roy Nichols. Nichols was the sublimely talented guitarist for many years in the band of Haggard, the legendary country and western performer who died April 6. And by one of those ...Read more

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Mod Garage: The Strat-o-Tele Crossover
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Last month in “Riptide Stratocaster Wiring,” we tried to stuff as many Telecaster attributes as possible into a Stratocaster. At our shop, we also get numerous orders for modding Teles with Strat-flavored elements, so let's turn the crossover concept...Read more