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 Band plays on
Dailyrecord.com, April 17th

“When I got a '52 Telecaster, I showed it to him, and he loved it.” The Band gave a farewell concert in 1976 (memorialized in the documentary “The Last Waltz”). After the break-up, Helm would record and tour with a shifting collection of artists called...Read more

Brandon Niederauer: Remember That Name
OZY, April 17th

On board the music-themed Jam Cruise in January, Robert Randolph invited Brandon onstage, handed over his Telecaster, set him up on an amp, and jam they did. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this kid is that he's not just a novelty act. Close your ...Read more

“The Philospher's Tone” and SW MUSIC PICKS
WilliametteLive.com, April 16th

It takes a lot of courage to show up with a Stratocaster or telecaster and a clean channel low-voltage amp and keep up your guitar wielding chops with the area's most experienced players. I have also been exploring the different ways to change...Read more

Dynamite Thunderpunch celebrates debut of EP
The News Record, April 16th

Armed with a telecaster, a red Marshall amp, and a variety of pedals, the lead guitarist's grungy hooks and solos forged pure adrenaline between the audience members. Distortion from both guitarists washed over those in attendance, who were either ...Read more

The return of rock: Four bands to watch
BBC News, April 16th

And I have another that's a Telecaster that he's customised to the sound that I want. But I don't believe in buying things that everybody else has and thinking "if I have the best thing, I'll sound the best". No, it makes you sound like everyone else...Read more

Podcast with Clare Dunn
Roanoke Times (blog), April 16th

I hear things a certain way," said Dunn, who was already a strong singer when she started attacking the Telecaster. "Definitely in college, it was an awkward time to start, 'cause I definitely spent a lot of weekends in my bedroom, holed up, listening...Read more

That Metal Gear: Richie Kotzen - The Winery Dog Talks Telecasters And Guitar ...
VH1, April 16th

That Metal Show is over for the season but we've got one last That Metal Gear we want you to see. We've been talking to some of the show's most talented guests about how they got started on their instruments and what gear they use to get their sounds...Read more

Burglars stole musician's prize £1300 electric guitar
Manchester Evening News, March 19th

The student bought the guitar, a Fender Telecaster Thinline 1972, for £1,000 aged 15, and used it to play backing for Sheeran at a gig in Edinburgh. He later played it recording an album called Sun Choir with high profile stars including Pulp front-man...Read more