Fender Telecaster Owned and Used by Tom Verlaine Solid Body Electric Guitar (1971)

Fender  Telecaster Owned and Used by Tom Verlaine Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1971)
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Fender Telecaster Owned and Used by Tom Verlaine Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1971), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 301851, blonde polyester finish, ash body, maple neck, original black tolex hard shell case.

Tom Verlaine needs no introduction to most guitarheads, but few of his fans and acolytes would generally associate him with a Telecaster. From the early days of Television through his long solo career other Fenders, particularly Jazzmasters were famously his stage pieces to the point where he is often credited with saving that model from obscurity in the 1970s. This Tele nonetheless was in Verlaine's studio arsenal for decades, and according to the included charming and detailed letter from Jimmy Ripp (his co-guitarist on most projects since 1981) was an often used studio tool.

"Though live Tom was truly the godfather of the Fender Offset, in the studio he was always searching for new sounds" writes Ripp. "One of his 'Go-Tos' was this Tele. I remember it always being close by and used for many clean rhythm parts and more than one fuzzed-out solo. The 'WORDS FROM THE FRONT" LP for instance is filled with triple-tracked Tele parts. This guitar may have lived a sheltered life away from the stage lights, but it was an important piece of studio gear for him."

We don't have evidence of exactly when Tom acquired the guitar, but this original blonde Fender Telecaster was built in early 1971, fully into the CBS '70s but still largely unchanged from its 1968 specs. The neck is dated February 1971 while the pots are coded to mid-'66, part of the huge 1966 CBS buy still being used up at this point. Ironically it's probable these 1 Meg pots were originally intended for Jazzmasters that were never built; Telecaster wiring was altered to use them in 1968. The blonde body and one-piece natural maple neck are coated in the Poly finish adopted at the end of the '60s, but not yet the massive "thick-skin" version of a couple of years later.

The original Telecaster single-coil pickups and wiring are in place with the stock single tone and volume control and a 3-way switch. Verlaine's one modification to the guitar was reversing the control plate to make it easier to do the volume swells that were a prominent part of his style. The volume control is now closest to the bridge and the switch towards the rear of the guitar; some other Studio players did this as well. There are no other alterations; the bridge remains the original stamped metal 3-saddle unit, with the lead pickup integrated into it.

At 7.2 lbs. this guitar is lighter than many from this period and a great feeling instrument. It a fine sounding, excellent-playing example, as one would expect for such a discerning player's studio guitar. This is truly a piece of 20th century guitar history, as well as a lovely instrument to play. Included are an unused set of Tom Verlaine's specially gauged Scalar Design strings and a mix of several of his picks, along with the original handwritten letter from Jimmy Ripp attesting to its provenance.
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.)., 7.2 lbs.

This Telecaster shows some fairly minor wear and tear but overall survives in fine playing shape with no alterations except the reversed control plate and attendant rewiring. The all-original Poly finish has some large check lines and small dings and scrapes but no heavy wear; these were designed to be very hard-wearing after all! A large check mark is visible off the bass side of the neck pocket. There are a few long scuff marks on the back that could probably be polished out but we have left unaltered as part of the story! The back of the neck is very clean, with a visible old tape mark around the back of the headstock above the nut; we believe this is a remainder of Tom's sometime habit of adding damping under the strings ahead of the nut to mute the overtones there (Jimmy told us "He could hear EVERYTHING!")

The pickups, pots and switch remain original, with just the re-wiring done to reverse the control order. All other hardware is original as well and in good shape with only some scuffing and general wear. The frets are original, they have been taken down a bit with some minor subsequent wear and remain quite playable. The fingerboard is very clean with one isolated small round dink under the B string at the 7th fret. This is a great feeling Telecaster with a real ring but not as bright as some from the late '60s-'70s, the sound has some meat to it and is not overly brittle. This humble Telecaster appears to have served a unique and very discerning artist well, and remains complete as he used it in the original black Tolex Fender case with a few mementos of its special history. Excellent - Condition.