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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Recent News: Telecaster Guitars

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Telecaster Masters
East Hampton Star, October 16th

The Telecaster, an iconic electric guitar that has barely changed in design since the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation introduced it in 1951, will be celebrated on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Bay Street Theater when three renowned guitarists will pay...Read more

Top 3 Concerts: Gwar, GE Smith & Masters of the Telecaster, Red Baraat
Allentown Morning Call, October 15th

Theatrical metal band Gwar plays at Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Friday. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO, FREEMAN PROMOTIONS). By John J. Moser, Of The Morning Call contact the reporter · ConcertsMusical TheaterMusicGWARBob DylanSaturday ...Read more

Masters of the Telecaster Come to Bay Street Theater
The Sag Harbor Express, October 13th

To understand the jam that is set to unfold at Bay Street Theater this weekend, you must first understand the Telecaster guitar as an instrument. Introduced to popular culture in 1950 by Fender, this solid-body electric guitar broadcasted its sound in...Read more

Review: Fender American Standard Telecaster Electric Guitar
American Songwriter, September 23rd

Fender Telecasters are part of a rich tradition of American music, guitars that have made history by changing – if not helping create – the sound of every genre of modern music. Country players like the Hag, blues giants like Muddy Waters, rockers like...Read more

Mod Garage: Adding an Out-of-Phase Switch to a Telecaster
Premier Guitar, June 27th

Now that we've investigated the Telecaster's bridge and neck pickups individually, it's time to have some fun with both pickups together. Are you ready to learn how to get out-of-phase sounds from a Tele? In this column we'll cover the electrically out...Read more

Stevie Ray Vaughan on a Telecaster: SRV Plays "The Crawl" with The Fabulous ...
Guitar World Magazine, June 11th

What's particularly cool is that SRV is playing a Fender Telecaster in this clip — something I don't think I've ever seen before. Be sure to stick around for the extended solo at the end of the video! In case it isn't clear, that's Jimmie on the white...Read more

Ode to an Instrument: Tales of a trusted Telecaster
BurlingtonFreePress.com, May 31st

In a pawn shop several blocks away, I found a Fender Telecaster — a quintessentially workingman's guitar, with the wear of countless gigs already on it. The well-worn maple fingerboard and discolored white pick guard told me that this Tele was built...Read more

Mod Garage: The Infamous Telecaster Neck Pickup
Premier Guitar, May 16th

Now that we've explored Telecaster bridge pickups, we've arrived at the final stage of our journey: the neck pickup. Smaller than a Stratocaster pickup, the stock Tele neck pickup sports a closed metal cover and is usually installed with two wood...Read more