by Larry Ziffle
The History of the Fender Telecaster Guitar
The Fender Telecaster Guitar is almost instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen a popular music artist perform. When it was first produced in 1949, it was called the Broadcaster – since then it has become one of the oldest and most popular types of guitars in the world under the name Telecaster. Musicians from diverse genres including the likes of Bob Dylan, Buck Owens and Alex Lifeson of Rush have played Telecasters.
The base model of the Telecaster is a single-body design (solid, not hollow) with dual pickups, though there have been many variant models in the last sixty years. Leo Fender, who founded the Fender Corporation, was the one who came up with the Telecaster design. The design was a pioneer as one of the first guitars to be mass produces. Its easy assembly meant it could be produced on an assembly line, and it also made repairing the guitar easier.
Decades later, the form and appearance of the Telecaster remains largely the same as the base model. While it can be produced for a low cost and has a relatively straightforward design, the Telecaster is known for having a unique sound which has been highly influential on modern music. Each of the two pickups produces different tones: one is a more mellow tone with a blues sound, the other is a sharper sound more often used in rock.
One reason that this guitar has been so influential is that it was among the first to be designed with a solid body instead of a hollow one. This meant there was less feedback when the instrument was played at high volumes.
Even today, the Fender Telecaster guitar remains a fixture in the music scene. Among the dozens of different alternate versions, it is still possible to find models that are almost exact replicas of the vintage Telecaster in style and sound.
The Telecaster paved the way for the later Fender Stratocaster, a larger and more contoured design that featured a trio of pickups instead of two. The Strat became equally popular, and over the past several decades these two instruments have been among the most popular guitars. They’ve been in the hands of some of the world’s greatest guitarists, but they’re also well suited for beginners.
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