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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The Weight Takes A Load Off At Hartford's Infinity
CTNow, November 25th

I went over to his house in 1970 or so and showed him my Telecaster." In the early '80s, Weider began playing in a group with Helm. One by one, former members of the Band returned to town and it became clear that a reunion was immanent. "It was pretty ...Read more

Jackson Browne, Royal Albert Hall, review: 'shimmering'
Telegraph.co.uk, November 25th

More than 40 years after his debut album, Jackson Browne is still dedicated to making music that means something, even if he can sometimes drown in his own seriousness. Once or twice in this long show (three hours including an interval), his commitment...Read more

Jam-Session Junkie Pt. 3: Parade night and then the Paramount!
The Independent, November 23rd

Among the highlights of this one were appearances by: retired music teacher Terry Thompson (carrying a trumpet and a red, rubber plunger cup); guitarist Jerry Brooks (carrying a paisley painted Telecaster); guitar man Ken Edmonds with a beautifully...Read more

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

G.E. SMITH & MASTERS OF THE TELECASTER. The breadth of experience on stage for the Masters of the Telecaster show will be impressive. Stroudsburg native G.E. Smith was leader of the "Saturday Night Live" band and the musical director for Live Aid; ...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

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