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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Sturgill Simpson's strange and shredding honky-tonk opens the 2014 Voodoo ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com, October 31st

With the help of a tight band, including the razor-sharp guitarist Laur Joamets ("He rode a Telecaster here all the way from Estonia," Simpson said), he delivers ace barroom weepers and roadhouse stompers full of perfect country turns of phrase (e.g...Read more

Live music in New Orleans for Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014: The Imagination Movers at ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com, October 31st

Bill Kirchen earned the honorific "The Titan of the Telecaster" over multiple decades as a master of the instrument, including his "Hot Rod Lincoln" years with Commander Cody. He's gone on to back the likes of Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris with a ...Read more

Jay Pilzer tells American history, in wood and steel
The Tennessean, October 30th

And so now these theories have a home and Jay Pilzer has a book, "A Six String History of America," and the book's cover has a portrait of the Statue of Liberty hoisting high a Fender Telecaster. "It's either American history through the lens of...Read more

WIN! A signed Fender Jim Root Telecaster in association with FRET12
MusicRadar.com, October 29th

But thanks to the good people at FRET12, we can go one better: up for grabs is a Fender Jim Root Telecaster, which has not only been signed by the man himself, but was used to record guitar tracks on the new Slipknot album – the guitarist gives you the ...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

Top 3 Concerts: Gwar, G.E. Smith & Masters of the Telecaster, Red Baraat. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO, FREEMAN PROMOTIONS. Theatrical metal band Gwar plays at Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Friday. Theatrical metal band Gwar plays at Sherman ...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

Bay Street Theater Presents Masters of the Telecaster: A Night of Roots Rock N ...
LongIsland.com, October 8th

October 7, 2014 - Sag Harbor, NY - Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts is pleased to announce MASTERS OF THE TELECASTER, A NIGHT OF ROOTS ROCK N' ROLL with GE Smith, Larry Campbell, Jim Weider and special guest Taylor ...Read more