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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Nils Lofgren, Train, Bill Kirchen on the concert menu: Also Playing
cleveland.com, July 6th

That's pretty much the only way to describe this high-energy artist who spent his formative years, musically speaking, as part of Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen. Now 67, the "Titan of the Telecaster'' hasn't slowed down a bit. Lost State of...Read more

Fortran: 7 Reasons Why It's Not Dead
InformationWeek, July 5th

The list of high-tech tools in continuous use since the early 1950s isn't very long: the Fender Telecaster, the B-52, and Fortran. Fortran (which started life as FORTRAN, or FORmula TRANslator) was first created by IBM programmer John Backus in 1950...Read more

Johansen's 80th
The Herald Journal, July 5th

Larry purchased his prized guitar, a Fender Telecaster, in 1957, and has enjoyed singing and performing at countless programs and events ever since. Larry met his wife, LuDean Clossner, at the Elite Hall in Hyrum. They were married on October 24, 1958, ...Read more

Jazz guitarist Julian Lage to play Telecaster at Prairie Pines gig
Wichita Eagle, July 3rd

When Julian Lage performs in the Wichita area this week, he'll do so on a Fender Telecaster, a guitar played by millions of people around the world. “It's the people's guitar,” said Lage, whose trio appears at Chamber Music at the Barn at Prairie Pines...Read more

Uranus Recording of Tempe Closes With Great Performances From Gin ...
Phoenix New Times, July 3rd

Honeygirl, comprising Kira Brown and Gin Blossoms guitarist Scott Johnson followed, offering a few smokey Americana and country inflected numbers which showed off Brown's voice and Johnson's tremolo-laden Telecaster. Wilson popped back on stage to ...Read more

MUSIC REVIEW: John Fogerty revisits 1969 at Wolf Trap
Washington Times, July 2nd

The audience got a lesson in the difference of sounds between a Fender Telecaster, a Rickenbacker (teasing the audience with “Suzie Q”) and then a Les Paul Custom that led to steamy version of the Leadbelly song “The Midnight Special.” • The showman— ...Read more

Mod Garage: Telecaster Series Wiring
Premier Guitar, April 17th

Fig. 1 — How to wire your Tele for an added series sound. Image courtesy of Fender Musical Instrument Corporation. Let's explore a common mod for Telecasters and other two-pickup guitars, but with a little twist: wiring two pickups in series rather...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