Fender Telecaster Solid Body Electric Guitar (1952)

Fender  Telecaster Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1952)

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Item # 8037
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Fender Telecaster Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1952), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 3215, Blonde lacquer finish, ash body, maple neck, tweed hard shell case.

This beautiful example of a "Blackguard" Telecaster -- the guitar that put Leo Fender on the map for all time -- was built at the company's original factory in Fullerton, California as spring rolled into the summer of 1952. The guitar has all the classic '52 Tele features; the one-piece maple neck, aged "butterscotch" blonde-finished ash body, lacquered black fiber pickguard, brass bridge saddles, and of course the original Tele pickups with a sound for the ages!

This one carries the serial number 3215 stamped into the bridgeplate, with a neck date of 5-29-52 in pencil on the heel alongside the initials of Fender's master carver Taddeo Gomez. The body carries a date mark of 5-28-52 in the neck cavity, under the penciled name "Davis". This is almost certainly the mark of Charlie Davis, who left his initials "CD" in a number of Broadcasters and some Teles around this period of mid-1952. The potentiometer date codes are somewhat harder to see; the blue ink stamp just peeking out from under a solder joint appears to be 220, indicating the piece was made the 20th week of 1952. All the parts of this guitar are very closely dated, which is not always the case with early Fenders.

This guitar has been well-played but not abused since it was shipped out in 1952, and recently resurfaced in its home state of California. Everything on this instrument is original including the early "Broadcaster" wiring rig; unlike many, it has never been re-wired to the "modern" Telecaster switching scheme. As originally set up, there is a "deep bass" capacitor on the neck pickup in switch position # 1; position #2 is the neck pickup in normal mode, and #3 is the bridge pickup, but the neck pickup can be gradually blended in by use of the tone control. The use of this unusual pickup blend setting was discontinued not long after this guitar was made, and a standard tone control substituted. We find this earlier selector switch set-up, allowing bridge and neck pickup to be used together, altogether more useful than the subsequent '52-'67 straight 3-way, and it's fairly rare today to find an unmodified example.

The very comfortable neck has a nice round profile and is slimmer than some '52s we have had. The screws are mixed flat and Phillips-head types as is customary for mid-1952; the truss rod adjustor is still a flat-head single slot, which is a late appearance for this Broadcaster-period feature. For many, 1952 is THE classic Telecaster year, with the same look and feel of the earliest Fender Broadcaster and "No-Caster" guitars from 1950-51, but more consistent production standards. Many of the fine details of the instrument continued to gradually evolve as the decade went along, but '52 is the benchmark year for comparison to all later Fender guitars, and the year Fender has generally selected for basing its re-issues on. Before the introduction of the second Fender solidbody (the Stratocaster) in 1954, the Tele and Precision Bass were the company's most innovative and sensational products, and in 1952 were already causing a revolution in playing styles and shaking up the guitar world in a big way. At the time the Telecaster was totally unique in look, feel, and sound, and became instantly popular, particularly with country players.

In the years since, many players and collectors have come to consider the 1952 Telecaster the finest electric guitar ever made -- and one of the most important as well. In his authoritative and beautiful book "The Blackguard", author Nachos Banos references this, calling '52s "a personal favorite" and stating, "The neck feel and lead pickup sounds from these…make them some of the best Fenders ever made". The early Fender Telecasters of this period are universally considered as one of the most collectible and historic of all electric guitars, and this is a very fine original example.
 
Overall length is 38 3/4 in. (98.4 cm.), 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

The instrument remains in very original and nicely preserved condition with some of the typical play wear seen on early Telecasters, mostly to the lacquer finish on the fingerboard. The neck was refretted (likely some time ago) with the original style narrow wire and these frets show some light/moderate wear but still play fine. There is visible play wear through the clear lacquer finish and slightly into the wood on much of the maple fingerboard, again typical of Fenders from this early period -- they tended to get played using "all the notes"!

The original blonde lacquer finish on the body is comparatively well-preserved. It shows light, very fine checking overall and some small dings and chips (mostly to the body edges), but is not heavily discolored or worn away. There is only minimal "smoke" darkening of the finish, and it retains a good color with less "ambering" than many. The pickguard shows some wear through the lacquer where the strumming hand impacted it over the years, mostly in the area below the stringline.

All parts including the pickups, bridge components, Kluson Deluxe tuners, lacquered fiber pickguard, strap buttons, and all screws and other hardware are completely original. The only oddity is someone long ago drilled several small screwholes into the rear edge of the pickguard on either side of the bridge (why we can't say) and these have been filled but can still be seen. The screws involved went minimally down onto the wood below (perhaps the guard was lifting a bit), although it shows no evidence of that now.

At any rate, these very small additional holes were the only user-inflicted indignity suffered by this Telecaster, and have no practical impact on the instrument besides a bit of a head-scratcher of a story. The original "ashtray" bridge cover is also present and in very good condition. The current frets still have plenty of life in them, and this guitar is just heaven to play with a great singing sound from either pickup. The tone control is weaker than many; it is fairly effective on the bridge pickup.

The instrument is housed in a reproduction Fender tweed hard case, the original fragile "thermometer" case apparently long gone. We love blackguard Teles more than just about anything; each one has a story to tell, coming from the primal dawn of the modern electric guitar down through all that has transpired since. This is a wonderful example, played but not abused, with the feel and sound these guitars have always been prized for, and vibe for days. Excellent - Condition.