more Telecaster

Photo by interestedbystandr
Photo by interestedbystandr

My favorite guitar, the Telecaster, was introduced to the world by Leo Fender, a businessman, and a renewed inventor, the Telecaster has the richest history amongst all the Fender electric guitars. Through the years, after a name change or two, Fender guitars were known as indispensable workhorse instruments that revolutionized the sound of music-and so they did. Many musicians looked to them for the change of tone or music and they gave them the distinct musical element that they were looking for.

 

Designed to be heard loud and clear, each classic Fender telecaster guitar provided a signature sound for many guitars in the world. Its originality has not only enabled it to become widely popular but also allowed Telecaster to maintain a great level of uniqueness and diversity in the music industry. Needless to say, the Fender Telecaster guitar is the best that there is. Its features include a single-cutaway body that represents its unchangeable design, snappy tone pickups and adjustability with a variety of music profiles.

 

Also referred to as Tele, the classic Fender telecaster was significantly used by hundreds of famous musicians. Game changers like Phil Baugh, Syd Barrett, Roy Buchanan and Jeff Buckley are known for the faithful use of the guitar, during the mid-1990 to these present years. While most of these musicians may have faced their unfortunate demise, the guitar still remains strong and has successfully changed hands over the years.

 

Even though the classic Fender telecaster is currently available in numerous variations, the early versions of the Fender electric guitars are what made it what it is today. These versions included:

Photo by ToNG!?
Photo by ToNG!?

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The Fender Esquire Guitar (the 1950’s)

Manufactured in 1950’s, the Fender Esquire was introduced shortly after the debut of Broadcaster prototype. Available at affordable prices, this guitar became the mass majority’s favorite until the year 1969 when it was discontinued because of the shortcomings in some of its features. Butterscotch blonde and black in color, the Fender Esquire was one of the few electric guitars that did not have an acoustic manipulation of its tone. Before it stopped being manufactured, the guitar was redesigned and a tone control suitable was included in the newer model. However, the features were incorporated into the Broadcaster model.

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Fender Broadcaster Guitar (1950)

After years of trial and error, Leo Fender began working on a practical electric guitar that would be known for its high volume and great feedback features. As some of the features were already found in the Esquire guitar model, the musical world already knew what was to be expected. The guitar would comprise of a bolt-on neck that would give a clarity level that would resemble Fender lap steel guitars. This new invention was introduced as the Fender Broadcaster Guitar in 1950. Boasting of 61 years of existence, revised models of this Telecaster guitar are now available and are widely used. (This is what my friend Chris, who is a demolition contractor in New Jersey has)

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Fender Nocaster Telecaster Guitar (1951)

From the year 1950, each new year saw a new Fender innovation unveiled. 1951 came with the Fender Nocaster Guitar. Represented by a solid body, the guitar was a replica of the Fender Broadcaster but it had a few different tweaks. It comprised of a silver ducal and a diagonal route that was found between the pot cavity and the neck pick up.

Photo by doryfour
Photo by doryfour

The neck or the body pocket always contains a D-stamp and this is what distinguished this guitar from its previous counterpart, the Broadcaster.

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Fender Telecaster Guitar (1968-present)

Manufactured in 1952, this guitar has never gone out of style. It has unique features and a unique musical personality that have kept it in demand till today. Comprising of a solid body and aluminum-bolted parts, the classic Fender telecaster has been able to outsell any other Fender guitar.

 

The Fender Precision Bass was a new guitar also released in this same year. However, a newly refined version of the Bass was made which led to its name change in 1957. This guitar was then called to the Telecaster Guitar.

Hobbyists and guitar wizards can make the most of telecaster guitars because of their unique features such as the rosewood fretboards and 3-position pickup switch. The guitars have given way to a new version; the Squire Telecaster, which is a value brand and alternative to Fender. Arguably, there is no other guitar that has enjoyed widespread popularity as the classic Fender telecaster. It is the testament to popularity and diverse styles.

Rick Nielsen’s Guitars

Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection

Photo by aaronHwarren
Photo by aaronHwarren

Starting off, it is important to mention that the legendary Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, has owned about 2,000 guitars over the last several decades. Last year, he went on record on rollingstone.com with the fact that he currently owns over 400 guitars. Of all these guitars, perhaps one of the most iconic members of his six-string collection is the famous Hamer checkerboard five-neck guitar. Whichever way you look at it, Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection is amazing.
 

 

Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection on auction

For rock lovers and guitar enthusiasts in general, owning an instrument that has been in the hands of a legend is one of the most prestigious things worth celebrating. Due to the fact that he had way too many guitars and that he wanted some of his prized possessions to find a new home and rock on, Rick Nielsen put up a few of six-strings up for auction last year.
As things stood then, his 1956 Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Junior sold for $5,760. His 1959 Gibson ES-330T Mint Collector Grade did even better with bids reaching up to $6,800 and more. Some of his eye-catching axes up for grabs were: a Fender Floral Tele, a Dean Psychobilly Cabbie and a Nash F*cker Sh*tblaster.

Photo by Alberto Cabello Mayero
Photo by Alberto Cabello Mayero

A sample of his guitar collection when Rick Nielsen tours with Cheap Trick

Rock artists, especially guitarist do not leave things to chance. When they tour, they like to carry with them a wide selection of their guitars. Whether those six-strings that make the tour represent the artist’s favorite list is only for them to know. As for guitar lovers, we just stay mesmerized by the wide array of musical instrumental genius gracing the stage and serenading our ears.

When he was on the cover of Guitar Player in 2013, Rick went on stage with Cheap Trick in Napa, CA. The gracious instrumentalist granted Guitar Player an audience before he went on stage. He was kind enough to introduce his collection of axes for the Napa tour to Guitar Player.

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And this is how that list read:

– He had with him a Hamer Standard. This had cartoons of himself on it. – He also had yet another Hamer Standard with metal flake sparkles.
– He had a Les Paul that had an Explorer headstock.
– He had a replica of his Checkerboard Standard. After the Ottawa stage collapse, Rick retired the original Checkerboard Standard due to damage.
– He also had with him a 1958 Les Paul.
– A Sgt. Pepper Hamer
– A box-shaped Rockford Hamer.
– A Yardbirds Esquire. This one was a replica of Jeff Beck’s and was actually given to Rick Nielsen by Jeff Beck himself.
– Rick Nielsen’s unmistakable tone has at the core of it the sound of Paul Rivera-modded Fender Deluxes. So naturally, these had to be there.

Here’s a video of Rick playing his five neck guitar in 1989

In an interview, Rick said that he always had a thing for old guitars. According to him, the old ones always seem to have something over the new ones. Growing up in Northern Illinois, surrounded by guitars at his father’s band and orchestral rental store, he says that people would trade in old guitars for new ones. He bought the old guitars mostly because he could afford them and because they had that ‘it’ tone that every musician tries to find.

His extended guitar collection

Rick Nielsen has owned thousands of guitars in the past. Some of the more illustrious names and brands that make the list as part of his extended selection include:

Hamer Guitars
Fender Custom
Guild
Merle Travis
Gibson Explorers
Gretsch
Malcolm Young Signature
Gibson Les Paul
White Penguin

This list could go on and on. The exact number of six-strings that have come into the possession of and into Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection maybe unclear due to the sheer number and the duration through which they have been collected. What isn’t in doubt, however, is that the legendary rocker has had a wonderful run and a great many beautiful and powerful axes at his disposal.

This is the kind of collection that mere mortals can only marvel at and occasionally get to own part of when he chooses to do some ‘guitar rack spring cleaning’ and put some on auction. Be prepared to part ways with a tidy sum whenever any of his guitars go up for auction. Don’t worry too much about the financial hit, you will be buying a piece of Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection. And to a guitar lover, that is priceless.

Photo by Alberto Cabello Mayero

rick nielsen photo
Photo by stannate

The Tele

The Fender Telecaster

Bruce Springsteen, Waylon Jennings, Muddy Waters, James Burton, Keith Richards and Joe Strummer are just some of the illustrious names that have been associated with the Telecaster guitar. Introduced to the musical world in 1951 by Leo Fender (a businessman and an inventor from Southern California), the Fender telecaster, fondly referred to as ‘Tele’ has steadfastly become one of the most iconic guitars in the world.

As one of the most popular electric guitars on the market today, there are a lot of things that set the Fender telecaster apart from the competition. The one thing that does stand out, however, is the care and expert technique with which each guitar is built. This guitar is built using a simple and straightforward design that increases versatility as well as playability.

Featuring a single cutaway body, a headstock that has six single-side tuners and two single-coil pickups, the Tele produces a bright and twangy tone that has propelled it to the apex of its industry.

Photo by michfiel
Photo by michfiel

Basic features of the Fender telecaster

Ever since its inception, the Tele has been produced in a great number of varieties. And even though there are a lot of model-specific variations that come with the different Tele guitars, there are some iconic characteristics that tend to be found in almost every Fender telecaster.

– Fretboards made out of Rosewood or Maple. Although Maple fretboards tend to be more common
– A solid body that usually comes in ash or alder- A bolt-on neck that is made of maple
– Polyester or polyurethane finish. Nitrocellulose lacquer for vintage Teles
– 2 single-coil pickups. One found in the bridge position while the other in the neck position
– Either 21 or 22 frets- 3-position pickup switch- 25.5″ scale length
– Master tone and volume controls- Vintage Teles have a 7 1/2″ fretboard radius while modern Teles have a 9 1/2″ fretboard radius

The popularity of the Tele

If you are still on the fence about which type of guitar is best for you, one of the most reliable indicators that point to a great instrument is to look at the list of legends who are associated with it. As mentioned earlier, the Tele has enjoyed some profound popularity with legendary artists from across all genres of music.

There are even artists who were so fond of the Tele that they garnered nicknames referencing the guitar itself. Good examples include, Roy Buchanan (King of the Tele), Albert Lee (Mr. Telecaster) and Danny Gatton (Telemaster). From rock to jazz, country, pop and everything in between, the Telecaster has played itself into the books of musical legend across the field.

Telecaster players by musical genre:

Soul – Freddie Stone and Steve Cropper
Rock – Bruce Springsteen, John 5, Joe Strummer, Jim Root and Keith RichardsPop – The late Prince, Jeff Buckley, Andy Summers, George Harrison and James Burton
Psychedelic Rock – Zoot Horn Rollo, Jeff Beck and Syd Barrett,
Country – Waylon Jennings, Brad Paisley, Clarence White, Vince Gill and Merle Haggard,
Blues – Roy Buchanan, Albert Collins, Mike Bloomfield and Muddy Waters
Jazz – Howard Roberts, Jimmy Bryant, Barney Kessel and Mike Stern

Photo by Moucha
Photo by Moucha

Buying a Telecaster

Choosing a guitar, as much as it sounds like a lot of fun, can be rather frustrating considering there are countless options available. The thing about the Tele is that it is a versatile piece of musical instrument that takes into account the fact that every musician is different. Depending on your style of play and preference, you should choose a Telecaster that speaks to your strongest attributes as a player. However, you should be warned that every Tele is unique and almost just as good as the next.

Budget

Truth be told, buying a new Tele can be a bit expensive. That is why people who are just starting out often opt for buying a second hand instrument. Not only will this save you a bundle of money, but it will give you an opportunity to practice with a guitar that has already been ‘broken in’. On average, a used beginner’s guitar can go for about $200-$300 while the intermediate and custom shop models could cost thousands of dollars.

But as expensive as this might sound, one thing is for sure, when you buy a Fender Telecaster, you are buying a wonderful musical instrument that will not only refine your sound, but improve it all together. As a guitarist, the Tele is your best friend.