Fender Telecaster Guitars
Fender Telecaster guitars are some of the most enduring designs of the electric guitar as we know it today. Its introduction spawned many copycats and replicas as a testament to its timeless design and characteristic sound, and has won favor with many prominent guitarists both from the advent of rock n' roll and blues to more contemporary bands churning out the most cutting-edge and experimental sounds today.
Originally introduced in 1949 as the Broadcaster guitar, the initial design took many design changes and further tweaking on the insides before it became the Telecaster as we know it today. The Fender Telecaster guitar has been in continuous production from Fender factories since its very first incarnation, and is still used by players across a wide variety of genres. The Telecaster's groundbreaking design still endures to this very day.
The History of the Fender Telecaster Guitar
Leo Fender owned a workshop that repaired electronics and other instruments in Fullerton, California before deciding to take his love for music to the next level. He eventually changed the name of his shop, which was called Fender's Radio Service, to Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company in the late 40's, and began development on what would be known as the Telecaster with a man named Don Randall.
The first designs consisted of a crude wooden guitar wired up to an electric pickup that could be plugged into an amplifier. Local musicians in the area started to borrow the guitar due to the tone and sustain it offered, giving Fender more motivation to continue developing the solid body guitar. This crude prototype contained many of the features that would later be put on the Telecaster, as well as elements derived from the Hawaiian guitars offered by another California guitar company now known as Rickenbacker.
The first incarnation came in the form of the Esquire, and contained only one pickup. Less than 50 guitars were produced under the Esquire name, and most of them were returned because of manufacturing faults and problems. The Esquire guitar did not have a truss rod inside the neck, among other problems in the design, so Fender made improvements to the design, added the truss rod and another pickup to the neck position, and re-launched the guitar as the Broadcaster.
Gretsch filed a trademark case against Fender at the time because the Broadcaster guitar shared too similar a name to the Gretsch Broadkaster line of drums. As a company that was still starting up the time, Fender decided to go along with the lawsuit and changed the name to the Telecaster. The Telecasters that came out between this trademark infringement period often had no names on the headstock, and were colloquially referred to as Nocasters.
The Fender design was innovative in its modular and simple part design, making servicing defective or broken guitars much simpler. The bolt-on neck made swapping out a bent or broken neck much easier, as a person could simply order a replacement neck from Fender and replace the neck himself. Other parts such as the bridge assembly and access to the electronics of the guitar could be done much easier thanks to the modular design, which was also carried over to later Fender designs like the Stratocaster and Precision Bass series.
The sound produced by the Telecaster was also revolutionary and very desirable at the time; the bright, rich tones offered from the pickups helped the Telecaster shape many forms of contemporary music as we know them today. The ability to switch between these pickups with the built-in pickup selector also offered a great amount of tonal possibilities to the player, so if a person preferred the bass tone of the neck pickup to the bright sounding bridge pickup in the middle of a song, the player could simply flip the switch and continue playing.
The Fender Telecaster Today
To meet the needs of musicians throughout the years, Fender has put out many models of their famed Telecaster in order to cater to the demands of the music being played. The enduring design of the Fender guitar has outlived many trends in music, from the rock n' roll sounds of the 50's, to the hippie movements of the 60's, through the hard rocking sounds of the 70's and 80's. Grunge rock also helped catapult Fender guitars to renewed interest in the 90's, with players like Kurt Cobain literally flipping the guitar upside-down when playing.
Fender Telecaster Guitars come in many different configurations depending on the player's chosen style of playing. This can include the mellow, semi-hollow Thinline series of Telecasters to the EMG-equipped Jim Root solid body Telecaster. The tonal possibilities from the Telecaster are nearly endless, and can be customized easily by the player due to its modular design.
The Standard Fender Telecasters today are made in three different factories: America, Japan, and Mexico. Each of these factories offers the Fender Telecaster design in different price points for musicians with any budget.
The Mexican-made Fender Telecasters offer the most basic and bare-bones package at an affordable price point and good quality, while the top-of-the-line American Standard Telecaster offers more premium-grade embellishments well-worth the cash spent. While the Japanese Fender Telecaster guitars are only available in the Japanese domestic market, they have also made a name for themselves as affordable yet incredibly well built instruments that rival the quality of their often more expensive American-made counterparts.