Fender Esquire Solid Body Electric Guitar (1960)

Fender  Esquire Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1960)

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Item # 8154
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Fender Esquire Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1960), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 54593, Blonde lacquer finish, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, ash body, reissue brown tolex hard shell case.

This 1960 Esquire has seen a lot of action, but remains a superb playing and sounding example of an early "slab-board" Fender and an epically cool Telecaster variant. The guitar was made not long after Fender universally adopted the rosewood fingerboard in place of the earlier single-piece maple neck, and has typical features for that period. These include an ash body finished in blonde nitrocellulose lacquer and natural-finished maple neck with a slab cut Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. The headstock mounts Kluson Deluxe tuners and is marked with a "Fender Esquire" logo decal on the face. The neck is dated in pencil "9-60" on the heel, and the visible pot date to the 36th week of that year.

The body carries its single pickup in the bridge position mounted to a metal plate also carrying the three adjustable threaded saddles for the strings, which feed through the body. One quirk of this guitar is the bridge is still drilled at the back for the "top loader" stringing Fender had tried in the late '50s. Although negative response to that design change caused the company to revert to the original style of through-body stringing before 1960, Leo Fender never discarded good parts so these "double drilled" bridges were used up anyway.

The face of the body is partially covered by a single-layer white plastic pickguard which in this case conceals the factory rout for the neck pickup, fitted to the Telecaster but not the slightly less expensive Esquire. The control rig is unique, although visually the same as the Telecaster with standard knurled metal volume and tone knobs and 3-way switch with a "top hat" tip. The Esquire wiring is cleverly designed to offer three tonal options on a one-pickup Fender: the #1 bass-heavy setting, the #2 with a normal tone control function and #3 "bypass" sending the signal straight to the jack. This last setting is the Esquire's secret bonus, offering some of the finest, snarliest tones ever to emerge from Fullerton.

Although the "Esquire" name had been in use at Fender since 1950 for the single pickup variation of the Broadcaster/Telecaster, by the early '60s the model's popularity was in decline. While the Esquire was classed as a separate model, it was built from all the same parts which allowed Fender sales to offer a slightly cheaper alternative for the buyer who couldn't quite spring for the Tele's $189.50 pricetag.

By 1960 sales of the "plain Jane" Esquire were in decline, outpaced by newer Fullerton models both more expensive like the Stratocaster and Jazzmaster as well as the lower-priced Duo-Sonic and Musicmaster taking care of the student market. As the 1960s progressed, the Esquire was ordered in ever-shrinking numbers, making it much rarer than the same year's Teles. This 1960 example has seen quite a life by the looks of it, and we have to figure someone really got their money's worth out of this (in 1960) relatively inexpensive guitar!
 
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth at side. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). This guitar has been played a LOT, for years, but has an absolutely killer vibe. There is wear everywhere, but it has never been modified or altered away from the righteous path. Predictably it has had a refret (the original frets likely wore out during the Nixon administration) and the single pickup was potted some years back as it had become quite microphonic, resulting in a couple of re-done solder joints. The correct-style cloth wires to the jack appear newer, so these were replaced as well. The switch tip is the correct hard plastic but does not have the "Daka Ware, Chicago" markings on the underside thus may be of later vintage. All else is originally internally and externally, including the complex multi-cap Esquire wiring rig.

The neck finish is heavily worn down to that glorious old Fender feel, the body finish is a bit "smoked" and has dings, dents all along the edges and some wear into the face. The hardware shows some corrosion, mostly to the tuner shells, and the decal has some small chips. The sound is simply glorious and this is one pure unadulterated package of the real genuine vintage Fender goodness, with its relic status earned with years on the stage instead of with hammers and sandpaper. We love the "clean ones", but we take our hats off and bow to this road warrior, proudly twangin' since 1960 and good for another century, at least. Very Good + Condition.