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Telecaster, ’53


Blonde, Serial # 4123.

This one was acquired in a trade deal with Larry Hendrickson back around 1980. I have to say that this is one of my favorite Teles.

In the late 1940’s, Leo Fender began work on a no-nonsense solid body electric guitar. The result, introduced in the fall of 1950, was the Broadcaster.  Production continued through a name change in late 1951 (the name conflicted with Gretsch’s Boadkaster drum set) and factory relocation in 1953.

For many, a 1953 “Blackguard” Telecaster is considered the Holy Grail of all Teles. Whether it’s because more were made than in the previous years due to the new factory’s increased production capabilities, or because three years had been spent perfecting building techniques, a large number of legendary Tele artists were known to favor ‘53s.  Some of the most famous of these players include James Burton, Roy Buchanan, and Danny Gatton.


The well worn 1953 Telecaster pictured has the classic features most often associated with that year, including a one-piece bolt-on maple neck, a round string tree on the headstock (rectangular by ’56), an ash body with see-through butterscotch blonde finish (after the mid-fifties, the blonde finish became whiter and eventually more opaque), a black Bakelite pickguard (changed to white in late ’54), the serial number on the bridge plate (moved to neck plate by late ’54), outer brass bridge saddles that were notched on the bottom allowing for lower saddle adjustment, and a bridge pickup with flush level pole pieces (staggered by the end of ’55).

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