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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Gurus Echosex 2 ReviewPremier Guitar, May 22nd
I grabbed a Fender Telecaster Standard and Vox AC15 to test the Echosex 2 (plus an Acid Fuzz Sonic Boom to see how the device would respond to a period-perfect fuzz). Naturally, I dove straight into the “damaged” settings. Part of the Echorec's charm...Read more
'Ghent up' and danceSunday night at the CBCTahoe Daily Tribune, May 22nd
“While Ghent grew up playing lap steel, he has chosen to take the roots of his family's musical heritage and definitively place it in the present, using custom-made stand-up eight-string lap steel and Telecaster hybrids — rocket ships for his...Read more
Guitar Shop 101: Upgrade Your Tele with an Electrosocket Jack MountPremier Guitar, May 22nd
If you've ever owned a Telecaster, you may know how frustrating it is if the 1/4" output jack starts to get loose. On a Tele, the jack is held in a recessed cup secured to the body with a metal retainer clip embedded in the jack cavity. Over time, the...Read more
WOLF!: WOLF!Relix, May 21st
The whimsical brainchild of guitarist Scott Metzger, WOLF! embarks on an instrumental Fender Telecaster-led journey that snatches you off to a dingy, musky room from another era. The trio—Metzger, bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Floreth—pick away ...Read more
Muddy Waters: Can't Be SatisfiedAmerican Songwriter, May 21st
But Waters took it to a whole new level with a bigass dose of testosterone, a cranked-up electric guitar (eventually a Telecaster when Fender started producing them), and a killer band that featured harp wunderkind Little Walter. Before copyright laws ...Read more
Top 10 musical performances in 'Letterman' historyUSA TODAY, May 20th
Performing on Letterman's last show on NBC, the Boss went all out with this rendition of “Glory Days”. Springsteen starts out on the stage, makes some pit stops on top of the piano, and does his best to hack the strings off his poor Telecaster...Read more
'Titan of the Telecaster' to play at The PalmsDavis Enterprise, May 9th
Bill Kirchen and Bobby Black are together again for a tour, including a stop Friday, May 15, at The Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St. in downtown Winters. Guitar Player Magazine dubbed Kirchen the “Titan of the Telecaster.” Rolling Stone said he's “an...Read more
A Telecaster Master at the Living RoomThe 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