Dazed & Confused

Custom Telecaster or Telecaster Custom? We clear up the confusion on CBS-era Teles in this issue’s Dazed & Confused


The Telecaster has appeared in many different guises since the basic design went to market in 1950. Fender’s first solidbody electric guitar, the single (bridge) pickup Esquire, was introduced during spring 1950, while the odd dualpickup Esquire was made that summer. Fender decided to launch these dual-pickup instrument­s separately as the Broadcaste­r in autumn 1950, though following a trademark disagreeme­nt with Gretsch they were rebranded Telecaster in early 1951. This landmark electric guitar is now celebratin­g its 70th anniversar­y.

The Telecaster continued to evolve throughout the 50s, transition­ing away from the original Blackguard livery in 1954 with a lighter blonde finish and white pickguard. The model’s greatest change would come in 1959 when rosewood fingerboar­ds became standard across the Fender line. In June that year, the Esquire and Telecaster Custom models appeared, their bound bodies resplenden­t in a three-tone sunburst finish and topped with a three-ply (w/b/w) nitrate pickguard. These instrument­s marked Fender’s first foray away from the traditiona­l ‘plain Jane’ design.

As the 60s progressed, bigger changes were afoot at Fender as a whole, and by 1965 the brand was firmly in the hands of its new owners CBS. For better or worse, the corporate giant was less bound by tradition and soon began to take the humble Tele into areas previously unimagined.

[RB] Guitarist would like to thank ATB Guitars in Cheltenham and Adrian Hornbrook

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