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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Singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton to release solo debut
The Tennessean, January 23rd

It was his father, a coal miner, who introduced him to outlaw country and classic R&B, and it was during a vacation to Nashville that a young Chris — 6 or 7 years old — held a guitar for the first time when he strapped on a Telecaster to pose for...Read more

Vince Gill, Jabbo's Telecaster and the Jimmy Dickens Connection
Cashbox Magazine Canada, January 22nd

Vince Gill has been playing his song 'Go Rest High on That Mountain' at memorials like George Jones' and his latest performance of the song was at the Grand Ole Opry's Jan. 8th Memorial Service for Little Jimmy Dickens. The moment was already very ...Read more

Fender Custom Shop Announces 2015 Lineup
Premier Guitar, January 22nd

The 2015 Limited Edition 1955 Esquire is a peerlessly crafted take on the single-pickup classic that preceded even the Telecaster in Fender history. Everything about the instrument takes you back to that original era, with a lightweight ash body in...Read more

Will Ray's Bottom Feeder: Squier Telecaster Custom II with P-90s
Premier Guitar, January 19th

Every now and then I do a trade with someone who has a guitar I like or am curious about. This Squier Telecaster Custom II (Photo 1) was one such animal. Here's the story: My friend Eric plays in a band in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, and...Read more

Tom Rodwell And Coco Davis Telecaster Tour
Undertheradar, January 12th

After blowing the roof off the Nelson Jazz Festival, blues musicians Tom Rodwell and Coco Davis - also known as the front-persons of Auckland band Storehouse - return to the upper South Island for a further skirmish of salacious R&B and calypso music...Read more

Titan of the Telecaster books The Maze
Nottingham Post, January 2nd

The guitarist, who has worked with Nick Lowe, Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello, had a US Top 10 hit with his band, Commander Cody, called Hot Rod Lincoln. The so-called Titan of the Telecaster grew up in San Francisco but is now based in Texas...Read more

A Telecaster Master at the Living Room
The New Yorker, December 22nd

A 1959 Fender Telecaster, blond finish, white pickguard, maple fretboard, will set you back about thirty thousand dollars. Jim Campilongo is known for playing a 1959 Telecaster, blond, white guard, maple board, and a few years ago Fender's custom shop ...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