Fender Telecaster Thinline Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1969)

Fender  Telecaster Thinline Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1969)
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Item # 10889
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Fender Telecaster Thinline Model Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1969), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 239555, natural polyester finish, ash body, maple neck, original black tolex hard shell case.

The Thinline Telecaster was one of the best new late '60's Fender concepts, according to legend inspired by dealer complaints about overly heavy guitars since the CBS takeover in 1965! After experimenting with a hidden rout under the pickguard (the so-called "Smuggler's Teles") Fender decided to offer a new model where the routing was celebrated instead of hidden. This was officially introduced in November 1968 as the "Telecaster Thinline" offered in clear finished ash or mahogany, advertised as "Groovy Naturals". This was a sign of the "hippie influence" as CBS/Fender noticed the trend of players in the field stripping their custom color or Sunburst Fenders to the bare wood. The Thinline was subsequently also offered in sunburst or Custom Colors, but these are much rarer.

This semi-hollow Telecaster is built from a block of ash like a solid body, hollowed out from the rear not unlike the Rickenbacker instruments designed by Roger Rossmeisel. Not coincidentally Rossmeisel was employed by CBS/Fender at the time! A separate back piece was glued on and neatly faired in at the edge, giving the impression of a magically hollowed-out solidbody. The traditional Telecaster pickguard was altered to a more sweeping shape to clear a single upper F-hole and also carry the controls. Other aspects of the traditional Telecaster were retained including the trademark single coil pickups, master tone and volume controls and 3-way lever switch.

This is a nice example of a mid-1969 ash-bodied Thinline from the first full year of production, "smoked" a bit but not abused. The neck is dated April '69 and the tone pot is from the 1966 CBS "truckload" buy, dating to the 17th week of that year. The volume pot was replaced sometime around 1975, it is dated to that year. By the end of 1971 the Thinline design was "upgraded" to carry two of the new Fender humbucking pickups which changed its sonic character dramatically. This original 1968-71 version was not a major sales success for CBS/Fender despite its nifty and practical design; with just a 3-year production run it is not overly rare but still less common than the standard Telecaster.

This guitar's featherweight semi-hollow ash body has some nice grain figure under a clear natural finish, which is now darkened and rather ambered from exposure to smoky clubs, or smoky something! The pickguard is the snazzy pearloid material that Fender favored for several models in the late '60's. The neck is the single piece maple design re-introduced in 1968, now with a clear Poly finish, "F" logo tuners and larger decal typical of the period. The original single-coil pickups are typically bright sounding but still sweet, with the then-new bleed cap added on the volume control to help retain treble when the knob is turned down. This is a cool and fairly rare guitar, a super light (5.67 Lbs.) fine playing and sounding original example of this sometimes overlooked Fender gem.
 
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 12 3/8 in. (31.4 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.)., 5.67 lbs.

This "summer of '69" Telecaster shows evidence of some play time "back in the day" but except for the early volume pot replacement remains original and in fine playing condition. The (formerly) clear Poly finish on the body shows some fairly heavy checking and ambering, likely from exposure to smoky environments long ago. The face has a couple of rubbed-away spots to the undercoating on the upper edge and by the neck and there are a couple of long diagonal "strap burn" marks on the back. There are some random dings and dents as well, and chipped areas mostly along the edges and around the neck plate.

The neck finish is much cleaner, with only fairly light wear and some minor chipping at the fret ends. The fingerboard is surprisingly free of the typical worn-through spots. The chrome hardware has some light corrosion, most notably on the bottom inside edge of the bridge tray; the saddles and screws are relatively clean. The pearloid pickguard shows only some light shrinkage (less than many) and has no strained or split spots by the screwholes, just some notching at the truss rod.

The original fairly small fretwire shows only very light wear; it was likely recrowned long ago and remains very playable. This superbly light and handy guitar plays and sounds great, with the typically twangy Tele tone given an airy quality just a bit by the hollow body. The original Fender HSC has minor external wear but is still completely solid. Excellent - Condition.