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 i...
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."
Interviews & Articles
I started playing guitar when I was pretty young and bought my first guitar when I was 10 or 11. Like a lot of people of my genera… [more]
I grew up in upstate New York in Rochester, and started playing guitar when I was about 10 years old. We had this place in Rochest… [more]
I started out primarily as a collector and the business aspect of it evolved over time, almost by accident. I didn’t start out wit… [more]
I first started coming across Howe-Orme instruments when I was an apprentice guitar repairman in Boston in 1963. Their guitars hav… [more]
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Derry gets its cultural kicks and a new start from local heroesThe Guardian, May 18th
Members of the cast play the songs on stage and even use one of John O'Neill's original guitars, a black Fender Telecaster, that he played on The Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops during the Undertones' halcyon days. "We are talking about [a...Read more
Cruisin' Guitar Raffle TODAY!Petaluma Argus Courier (blog), May 18th
Autographs from the main stage performers will be added to the white Telecaster guitar and put on display at the Radio Station booth. – $1.00 per ticket. – Winner will be announced Saturday, May 18, over the radio station PA at 3:30 PM, 30 minutes...Read more
Ana Popovic Shreds The Belgrade BluesKRCB, May 18th
Ana Popovic's fiery technique on her Fender Telecaster has earned her an impressive nickname: "The Serbian Scorcher." Popovic grew up playing the blues in Belgrade during the turbulent time of the fall of communism and the dissolution of Yugoslavia...Read more
Steve Earle's Recession BluesMen's Journal, May 17th
I played electric guitar on this record for the first time, because I bought a 1955 Telecaster and a 1955 Les Paul custom, both made the year I was born. You know, I had a Les Paul custom, I wanted to fucking play it, so that's where "Calico County...Read more
Local musician Erin Condo starts Kickstarter album fundCentre Daily Times, May 17th
Through Kickstarter, Condo will offer donors rewards such as free song downloads, an advanced copy of “Love & Lightning” autographed by Erin Condo & the Hoofties, Condo's purple Telecaster guitar, a ticket to the CD launch party at the Bremen Town...Read more
Jim Weider and his ProJECT PERCoLAToR to play The Egg with special guest ...Troy Record, May 15th
ALBANY — “A lot” is all Jim Weider will say when I ask him how much his 1951 Telecaster guitar is worth. It's like he doesn't want to even think about it. When he travels, the instrument stays with him; it has never seen the inside of a baggage...Read more
Prized Telecaster guitar taken in Milwaukie burglarykgw.com, May 1st
"It was everything I expected," said Leroy. "At the time I think I paid $300 for the guitar and amplifier." The Fender Telecaster guitar was recently appraised at more than $18,000, but this is not about the money. Leroy has had the guitar since he was...Read more
The "Titan Of The Telecaster" Meets "The Sultan Of Sardonic"WOUB, April 26th
Grammy-nominated guitarist, singer and songwriter Bill Kirchen, best known for his "Hot Rod Lincoln" licks with Commander Cody's band and his work with Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris, returns to the Ohio Valley in early May for a series...Read more