Custom Esquire, ’63
Sunburst, Serial # L18136.
The Fender Esquire was officially unveiled in April of 1950 as Fender’s first standard electric solid body guitar. It originally had one pickup in the bridge position, but all bodies were routed for two pickups, giving the option of adding a neck pickup. The two pickup guitar eventually became known as the Telecaster, while the Esquire remained as a lower priced alternative.
By 1959 a new Tele and Esquire were introduced with a more refined look. These rosewood fingerboard (first used on the Jazzmaster in 1958) bound sunburst body guitars were named the Telecaster Custom, and the Esquire Custom. According to the original catalog description, “A beautiful highly polished Sunburst finish is used and the top and bottom edges of the solid body are trimmed with white contrasting binding.” Both the Esquire and Esquire Custom were discontinued by 1970.
The Esquire Custom pictured has a neck date of July 1963, and displays the characteristics of that year. These include a 3-color sunburst double bound alder body, a maple neck with a curved rosewood fingerboard (replacing the thick “slab” rosewood board used from 1959 into 1962), and a 3-ply greenish celluloid pickguard. The headstock decal uses a gold Fender spaghetti logo with “Custom Esquire” in small bold black lettering (the decal remained the same until the late ‘60s when the lettering changed to the big black CBS style). The neck on this example is made with an unusually attractive Birdseye maple.