Telecaster At The Music Zoo
The Fender Telecaster holds the title and bears the crown as the world's first mass produced solid body electric guitar. The Tele's simple formula has allowed it to flourish and become a beloved instrument by players of all styles and backgrounds. At The Music Zoo, we stock Telecasters for everyone - whether you're looking to sell off your collection for that one ultimate custom shop build, a working musician looking for the best value, just starting out, or want to emulate your favorite artist with their own signature model, we've got you covered. Ready to twang and bite with the best of them?
The 1952 Telecaster was technically not Fender's first "caster" - it's roots trace back a few years prior to 1950 when the first Tele shaped guitar appeared. It was a single pickup variant dubbed the "Esquire". Very few of these guitars were produced, and they actually had no truss rod, so many of the sales didn't stick. By mid 1950 though, a truss rod and second pickup were added, and the guitar was renamed the Broadcaster. But this name didn't last long either, as Gretsch took exception to this - they already had a "Broadkaster" line of drums. The name was quickly scrapped by Fender, and the Tele shaped guitars produced from early to mid 1951 did not have a headstock decal or official name. These later became known as "Nocasters". By mid 1951 though, the Telecaster name was conceived and 1952 marked the first full year of the guitar as we know it today. These early models were almost exclusively made with a "butterscotch blonde" finish. It wasn't until the Telecaster Custom in 1959 that "custom color" finishes were offered on the guitar (as well as rosewood fingerboards). The Telecaster Custom also featured body binding on the top and back.
Very early Tele-types featured a pine body, a soft wood that never quite caught on, but has a bit of a cult following to this day. Otherwise, the Telecaster was built with an ash or alder body, and a maple neck. The single coil bridge pickup was mounted directly to the bridge plate itself, a design inspired by previous decade's lap steel models. It was angled/slanted, to increase treble response. The single coil neck pickup was covered and wound for lower output than the bridge. Telecaster electronics may seem simple at first glance, and today they are, but the original electronic circuits were quite odd, and Fender made several changes in the early years. The original circuit used a master volume knob, but the second knob acted as either a blend or a treble cut depending on which position was selected. Later in the '50s, the setup was changed to make the second "tone" knob a true "tone" control, but it removed the option to combine both pickups. It wasn't until 1967 that the standard master volume, master tone, and 3-way switch was introduced. The Tele bridge featured a set of 3 angled saddles, holding 2 strings each. While newer bridges use 6 saddles for improved intonation and easier action adjust, the 3 saddle bridge still has it's charm and loyal followers.
The Tele sound is often characterized as twangy. It gained popularity amongst country and rock 'n roll players for this reason - but in general it is a very versatile guitar. The neck pickup is warm and deep, and blues and jazz players did not overlook these guitars for this reason. The combination of the two pickups generally produces an excellent rhythm guitar sound.
In the '60s, the Telecaster was slightly overshadowed by it's Jazzmaster and Stratocaster cousins, but continued to be produced nevertheless. In 1968, quite obviously in response to the explosion of the semi-hollow Gibson ES-335 type guitars, the Telecaster Thinline was introduced - the first semi-hollow Telecaster. When the '70s arrived, The Telecaster Thinline joined the new Telecaster Deluxe and the modified Telecaster Custom and now used the new Fender "Wide Range" humbuckers, designed by Seth Lover. At this time, the Telecaster Deluxe and Telecaster Custom used a 2 volume/2 tone knob configuration, while the Thinline still used the original control circuit. The Deluxe and Thinline also used the new hardtail bridge that was found on Stratocasters of that same era. Most of the later '70s Telecasters also featured the same 3 bolt neck joint, bigger headstock, and bullet truss rod as it's contemporary Fender offerings.
The early '80s saw the short lived USA Telecaster Elite model, designed as a high end offering with new active circuitry, a redesigned bridge, and new pickups. Soon afterward, Fender was in transition and was eventually sold by CBS. USA production was ceased for a few years, but the Japan factory still produced a 1952 Reissue Telecaster, to continue the earlier '80s USA production reissue models. Then in 1987, along with the Stratocaster, the modern American Standard Telecaster was introduced, and has remained a staple to this day - though it's name and specs have changed over the years - most recently with the introduction of the American Professional Telecaster in 2017. Rewinding back to the '90s too - while the "Strat Plus" saw more popularity, the Tele Plus was also a thing - they boasted Lace Sensor "Dually" bridge humbuckers.
The Music Zoo is an authorized Fender and Squier dealer, and our used inventory is packed to the brim! Our Telecasters are individually photographed and weighed, and undergo a rigorous inspection by our team of technicians, so you can be sure that wood grain you just fell in love with will look the same when it arrives at your doorstep, and the guitar will be ready to play right out of the case. Make your next Telecaster purchase online at The Music Zoo, or visit our New York showroom to shop today!