-- Museum of Musical Instruments
(Back to Home)

   The world's first mass-produced solid-body guitar, the Fender Telecaster has been in continuous production longer than any other instrument of its kind. Its inventor, Leo Fender (1909-1991), set out to create an electric guitar without the feedback caused by the hollow body of earlier types. He first introduced his idea in 1950 with the Fender Esquire, using one electric pickup, followed a few months later by a two-pickup version called the Broadcaster. The latter's name was changed a year later to avoid infringement on another company's line of drums. "Telecaster" was chosen to suggest cutting-edge technology, like the new term "television." By today's aesthetic standards, the squarish body of the "Tele" seems clunky, and was criticized by some as a slab of wood that anyone could cut out with a band saw. But this was the genius of Fender's concept, simplifying construction to first principles. Equally innovative was the solid maple neck bolted to the body, allowing easy replacement. A dark walnut "skunk stripe" down the back conceals a metal truss rod that allows adjustment of the neck. The frets are set directly into the neck's upper surface, eliminating the need for a separate fingerboard. This 1957 Telecaster has a cloudy blond finish reminiscent of Danish Modern furniture, but Fender also began to offer instruments in bright lacquer colors made by Dupont. The Telecaster was initially targeted toward guitarists playing western swing, but was soon adopted for all types of popular music.

I'm not a great player, but I make sure I surround myself with great players who'll do their best work when they're with me. Give a great guitar player a song he really likes, for example, and all you have to do is sit there and make a few suggestions. I'm just the guy standing there with the baton, and they're the orchestra. I've got the vision, and all I can do is lead them to glory.
-Chrissie Hynde

Close Window