AF’s Weblog

October 18, 2011

Fender Telecaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Review

Filed under: Guitar reviews — audiofanzine @ 6:47 am

The year 2011 will not be the year of the dog, nor the lion, nor the hamster. It will be the year of the Telecaster. Indeed, it’s almost exactly 60 years ago that Fender launched this wonderful riff machine called the Telecaster.

A Bit of History…

Fender Telecaster 60th Anniversary Edition

With a wealth of experience repairing instruments, Leo Fender had a simple philosophy when he started out: he wanted to create a new instrument using parts that were easy to replace. That’s how he invented the bolt-on neck while all others used a set neck. It might seem obvious nowadays, but this innovation was a real revolution for all instrument manufacturers.

 

The early version of the Telecaster saw the light of day in 1948, but it was named Broadcaster. However, the registry office rejected the name Broadcaster in 1950 and its creator renamed it the Telecaster. Gretsch, which was based in New York in those days, introduced a drum-kit range called Broadkaster the same year. Gretsch considered that changing a “K” for a “C” was not enough and started legal proceedings against Fender because of the fraudulent use of the registered name Broadkaster. Fender had to give in and rename his baby… Telecaster. The Telecaster became the first solid-body electric guitar in music history to be sold in very high quantities, followed by its younger sister the Stratocaster in 1954. The Telecaster was presented for the very first time at the Chicago NAMM Show 1951. The retail price without case was $189.50 (which would make for around $1,650 today). The first Telecasters are usually called Black Guard by collectors because of their black Bakelite pickguard (Bakelite is the ancestor of plastic), which made a great contrast to its pale skin.

 

The Youngest Member of a (very) Large Family…

Telecaster 60th Anniversary Edition

Fender decided to take the best of its experience and traditions in order to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Telecaster by presenting this brand new model MADE IN USA. The 60th Anniversary Limited Edition is sold with a black, rectangular compression-molded SKB case with the Fender logo. We would have preferred a retro-style tweed case for the same price, but cold soulless plastic is trendy nowadays. On the other hand, in order to mark the event, Fender packed the case with many accessories including a guitar strap with the Fender logo, a cable, an Allen key to adjust the truss rod, a soft cloth, and a user’s manual (see below).

First of all, let’s have a look at this famous nitrocellulose lacquer. The reflection of light on the pale lacquer is just sublime. The thin layer of lacquer lets you see the grains of wood — you can even feel them when you press your fingertips on the soft skin of the beauty. This lacquer-type was widely used by Fender in the 50’s and the 60’s before it was replaced by polyester-based paints that are much more resistant, but also much thicker thus altering the wood resonance. In order to satisfy the expectations of demanding users, and following the rising trend for more authenticity in our society, instead of synthetic and cheap materials this lacquer-type was first reintroduced by Fender with the ’82 American Vintage Series. Ever since, instruments from Fender’s Custom Shop have been using it. This lacquer-type is special because it must be applied in very thin layers. The result is a better sound spread thanks to better wood vibration. The only problem is that this lacquer is softer, which also means much more delicate. It is also more sensitive to shocks, pick blows and especially temperature changes. Like most materials, wood is very sensitive to climatic changes: it will expand and return back to its original shape depending on the environmental temperature and hygrometry. That’s why I recommend you to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and abrupt temperature changes, which can age the hue of the lacquer pretty quickly and make unrepairable cracks and splits to appear. Such reactions are mainly due to dramatic temperature variations. So, avoid changing your instrument from a very cold room to a very warm one if you want your Telecaster to remain young! Another important precaution is that you should avoid guitar stands with vinyl-based, plastic-based or synthetic rubber-based protections, which could leave permanent marks on the lacquer surface. We recommend you to follow the maintenance and storage instructions in the user’s manual you’ll find inside the guitar case.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

It is important to remark that this guitar shouldn’t be considered as an exact reissue of the original Telecaster. It is a tribute incorporating some major innovations that came to be in the 60 years of research at Fender. We could even say that this guitar isn’t but an American Standard Telecaster with a special Blond finish to mark the occasion. After so many years in the market of musical instruments, the Telecaster is still a very influential electric guitar and still inspires many competitors… Don’t put your hands on a legend if you’re not sure you want to buy it!

Advantages:

  • Vintage look
  • Very light (about 7.7 lb.)
  • Sold with SKB® case
  • Many freebies included!

Drawbacks:

  • The tone of this 60th anniversary limited edition is not very different from an American Standard Telecaster

To read the full detailed review see:  Fender Telecaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Review

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