Fender Esquire Solid Body Electric Guitar (1955)

Fender  Esquire Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1955)
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Item # 8921
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Fender Esquire Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1955), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 8316, Blonde lacquer finish, ash body, maple neck, black hard shell case.

This is a lovely early "whiteguard" Esquire, a superb example of 1950s Fender greatness and an extremely fine-sounding guitar. The Esquire was cataloged by Fender sales as a separate model but was really just a single-pickup Telecaster, which allowed them to offer a slightly cheaper alternative for the buyer who couldn't quite spring for the Tele's $189.50 price tag. This one is one of the early versions of the newer "whiteguard" Fenders and shows typical features for this period including the single-ply white plastic pickguard (standard by the beginning of 1955, replacing the earlier black phenolic) and the old script Fender logo decal above the original-style round-style string tree.

The grainy ash body has a slightly yellowed blonde finish, not as dark as the earlier '50s style but more transparent than the early 1960s "white-blonde". The body is dated 1-55 in the neck cavity. The neck is also dated 1-55 with Taddeo Gomez initials. It has a relatively rounded profile that shows the beginnings of the "V" shape that became more prominent in 1957. The serial number is stamped on the neck plate (recently moved from the bridge) and is still in the original 4-digit series.

The single flat-pole pickup back by the bridge is still in "blackguard" territory sonically. It is controlled by a volume, tone, and 3-way switch with a "top hat" tip offering three tonal options: the #1 bass-heavy rolloff setting, the #2 straight tone control, 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 the Fullerton factory. This one was wired up by Gloria on 1-26-55, and her masking tape tag is still intact in the cavity.

This early "Whiteguard" is a fantastic-sounding guitar, a joy to play...even to just hold! It has a small "playing card" applique on the body, but is otherwise unaltered. This exact style was used by Luther Perkins with Johnny Cash and Paul Burlison with the Johnny Burnette Trio, as well as many other early rock'n'roll and country players. It resides in a modern molded plastic case, still a twang machine par excellence.
 
Overall length is 38 3/4 in. (98.4 cm.), 12 3/4 in. (32.4 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.).

This is a nicely original and well-preserved guitar, with only the addition of a small talisman on the top of the body keeping it from being 100% unaltered. The body and neck finish show some typical wear with small dings, scratches, and scuffs, most notably to the body edges. The back shows only a small area of belt buckle wear. The neck finish has some wear to the back and edges, through to the wood only in the lower positions. The fingerboard has spots worn through the lacquer from in the "cowboy chord" zone down to around the 6th fret. There is a bit of missing finish right at the bottom end of the neck, where somebody strummed long ago.

All hardware on the instrument is original including the tuners, pickup, wiring, knobs, and bridge components. The steel bridge saddles have some corrosion but nothing too serious. The pickguard is original and quite well-preserved with no cracks and only some light scratching on the top surface. The Esquire-specific electronics are complete and undisturbed. The little "Gambler" emblem added at some point to the top shows an ace-high deck is neatly made of pearl with rhinestone accents. It appears pretty solidly affixed and we'd consider it bad luck to try to remove it...it's definitely part of this guitar's history!

The original frets have some wear, mostly in the lower positions but not enough to adversely affect playability. The guitar plays and sounds fantastic, just as good as expected and overall is one of the nicer "Whiteguards" we have had, a twang machine par excellence. The original case or bag is no longer with it, but it is housed in a molded plastic case with a bit of provenance to it; a re-issue tweed case can be supplied if desired. Excellent Condition.