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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John Fullbright Shines at Continental Club in AustinAmerican Songwriter, December 11th
For the third number he was joined by veteran guitarist Terry Ware on the Telecaster, the jazz trained David Leach on bass, and drummer Giovanni Carnuccio who, like Fullbright, once played with the Turnpike Troubadours. When the band keyed up together ...Read more
Happy Birthday Dave Schools | Chattanooga Panic 2001JamBase, December 11th
an "Another One Bites The Dust" into the mix just before an insane "Chilly Water." You knew the crowd was in for it when "Low Spark" was the second song of the show. The late Mikey Houser shines throughout the evening on his familiar Fender Telecaster...Read more
Rockin' good timesNew Straits Times, December 11th
I gently pick up the guitar, a Jim Adkins JA-90 Telecaster model with ebony transparent rosewood body. She's a beauty. I gently finger the strings, and they are silent, waiting for my inner rock star explode. What I haven't told them is that I learnt...Read more
The CBGB scene - a classic piece from the vaultsThe Guardian, December 11th
The rhythm guitarist is spraddle-legged and blank-eyed, chopping at his Telecaster like some deranged piece of machinery, braced so that he can lurch in any direction without falling over. He's wearing a Fillmore East T-shirt, which is the ultimate in...Read more
The Ford mustang: Getting better with ageMetroNews Canada, December 10th
The Ford Mustang is an iconic American consumer product, not unlike the Fender Telecaster guitar, Campbell's Soup, or the Colt 45 handgun (or if you prefer, Colt 45 malt liquor). Mustang's all-new and sixth-generation version, the 2015 model, was just ...Read more
CD/DVD Box Set Michael Bloomfield From His Head to His Heart to His HandsPremier Guitar, December 8th
Popular music had moved far away from the gritty, high-octane sounds Bloomfield helped pioneer in the '60s as the lead guitarist in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and the screaming Telecaster licks he'd played behind Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport...Read more
Rig Rundown: John 5Premier Guitar, December 6th
Mr. 5 is a Tele-vangelist who owns at least one Telecaster from every year of production, including an ultra-clean Broadcaster that stays at home. On the road, he brings enough axes (mostly signature Teles) to change guitars between every song. Some of...Read more
Mod Garage: '50s Les Paul Wiring in a TelecasterPremier Guitar, November 15th
Fig. 1. Gibson's '50s wiring, shown on a Les Paul circuit. Wiring diagram courtesy of Gibson (gibson.com). After pestering you with switching theory for a full three months [“Inside the 3-way Telecaster Pickup Switch,” October 2013, “How to Wire a...Read more