Fender Telecaster

The Fender Telecaster

When the Fender guitar company introduced their first version of this iconic guitar in 1950 under the name the ‘Broadcaster’ it sparked a revolution in guitar design. Rather than using complex hand made techniques like the arch tops of their main rivals Gibson, Fender used a simple construction of a single slab of wood which would be machine cut and bolted on to the neck.

This lent itself to mass production and a more affordable price tag.  Due to legal issues with the name (the Gretsch drum company had a range of kits, also Broadcasters) it was changed to the Fender ‘Telecaster’ in 1952, this may have been inspired by advances in technology with televised entertainment.  It was the worlds first solid body electric guitar and overcame the feedback problems suffered by Gibson’s hollow bodied arch top electrics.

Main Features

  • 1 piece body with single cutaway
  • Bolt-on maple neck
  • Simple pickup layout with two single coil pickups
  • 3 way pickup selector switch with single volume and tone controls

Key Players

  • Keith Richards – The Rolling Stones
  • Joe Strummer – The Clash
  • Albert Collins
  • Bruce Springsteen

The Telecaster Sound

Although the Telecaster has a simple design it is very versatile and has been the instrument of choice for guitar legends from country music as well as a firm staple in blues, rock and roll and Jazz. The tones achieved range from the distinctive crisp and clear twang heard in country music to the warm and mellow sounds of the neck pickup ideal for blues and Jazz players too.

The Telecaster came as a welcome improvement to the days when guitarists of the big band era struggled to be heard in the busy mix of instruments.  The crisp bright tone could cut through sounds of the horn sections to be heard and the solid wood body greatly reduced feedback allowing notes to ring out clearly.  

The bridge pickup is installed slanted forwards which adds to the bright sound by picking up sound in an area on the treble strings where they are under slightly greater tension closer to the bridge.

Over the years, Fender have released many versions of this timeless classic guitar. Some include semi-hollow bodies such as the 70’s thinline Tele, while others have featured hum-bucking pickups, or additional middle position pickups as seen on the Nashville model.

There are a number of artist endorsed signature models in the Telecaster form too, such as the Richie Kotzen Tele, Jim Root (Slipknot) Tele and Country star Brad Paisley signature model. The diversity of genres here shows the popularity of the Telecaster design.

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