Fender Telecaster Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956)

Fender  Telecaster Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1956)
$39,500.00 + shipping
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Item # 10760
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Fender Telecaster Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 12486, Blonde lacquer finish, ash body, maple neck, original tweed hard shell case.

While not exactly pristine this original "white guard" Fender Telecaster from late 1956 shows not too much wear for its 65+ years on Earth. While showing some typical signs of play time since it left Fullerton at the start of the second Eisenhower administration this Tele survives very nicely in all-original condition.

The guitar shows characteristic features of the second generation 1950s Telecaster period, after the "Blackguard" era. Most immediately noticeable is the single-ply white plastic pickguard which in 1954-5 replaced the earlier black phenolic on Teles and Precision Basses, making the look consistent with the then-new Stratocaster. The ash body has a lighter and "whiter" blonde finish compared to the more amber earlier '50s-style butterscotch hue, with some nice grain showing through. This "white-blonde" look would be the norm into the '60s, continuing up into the CBS era. This one strings through the body as Teles had from the beginning; later in the decade Fender moved to "top loader" stringing for a couple of years.

The one-piece maple neck is dated 10-56 at the heel. This neck has a fairly slim contour with the soft "V" spine most associated with 1957, but as evidenced here already appearing late in the previous year. On the headstock the old-style script Fender "Telecaster" logo decal is positioned below the newer "butterfly" string tree. The frets are still the original small wire.

The staggered-pole lead pickup is generally similar to earlier Telecaster units but with an altered magnet layout; the center poles are raised slightly. Like all Telecasters prior to the CBS era this guitar is wired with a "deep bass" cap engaged in the front switch position; the middle position is the neck pickup alone, while the back switch setting selects the bridge unit. The pickups can be combined only by carefully positioning the lever between settings, which works fairly well on this guitar.

The 5-digit serial number is stamped on the neck plate having been moved there from the bridge when Fender harmonized all their guitars into one number series in 1955. The knobs are a medium pattern knurl with a flat top and the switch tip is the "top hat" style that has endured as a Tele trademark. The electronics are unaltered but both pot date codes are both soldered over. This one had "Tele" written in pencil script under the pickguard before finishing; we have seen "Esq" in the same place several times (telling the assembler to wire it as a single-pickup guitar) but this is the first time we have seen the "Tele" designation.

This 1956 Telecaster remains a fantastic-sounding guitar and a joy to play. At only 6.78 LBs with the bridge cover ON (6.6 with it off!) this is one of the lightest '50s Teles we have had and handles like a dream. By this point the "canoe paddle" Telecaster had become widely accepted as a popular tool used by working musicians, including a host of early rock'n'roll and country players. Many have been played for decades and worn virtually into the ground; this one has seen less use than many and remains a truly great instrument, a genuine relic of the best years of Leo Fender's original company.
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.)., 6.78 lbs.

This is an all original and for the most part quite clean Tele, with some typical light wear and tear but no notable repairs or alterations. The body finish is the original thin blonde lacquer showing some small chips, dings and rubbed-away spots along the edges typical for slab-sided Fenders. There is one decent size spot worn away at the top edge of the upper back. This area is down to the wood and it looks like someone either played the guitar a lot in bib overalls and it rubbed on the snap or else this was a very low-slung rocker's guitar for a time! The face is relatively clean with light checking and some very small dings and dents; it is not "smoked' at all and the white/blonde color has hardly changed over the last 65 years.

The neck finish is also all original and has some typical wear down to the wood on the fretboard; this guitar was played a bit beyond the "Cowboy Chord" position but not too heavily up the neck! The finish on the back of the neck has comparatively light wear, just some loss on the edges with minor staining and a couple of scratches and dings. The headstock has some very light checking. The original thin frets have some wear and minor re-crowning in the lower position and are quite playable, the bone nut is still original as well.

The hardware is all original and intact; the pickups and wiring are undisturbed, the guitar retains its original "mud cap" switching configuration. There is some minor wear to the chrome, most heavily on the control plate. The bridge has hardly any corrosion and it looks like the snap-on cover was kept on for most of its life. This is a super light, superb sounding all-original Telecaster with a very powerful snap from the bridge pickup, a nice mellow honk from the neck pickup and a good blend with the switch lodged JUST in the right spot! It is still housed in its original "Knuckle buster" tweed HSC, a bit worn overall but better preserved than many, with the little metal "Fender" tag on the lid (almost always missing) a bit bent but still intact. Excellent - Condition.