The Fender Telecaster, or "Tele", has the distinction of being the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar.

It is equipped with a 21-fret bolt-on neck, and a single-cutaway body. There are two pickups; an angled bridge pickup mounted to the bridge plate, and a non-angled neck pickup. Both are single coil.

The controls on a Telecaster are very simple - a three-way selector switch, a tone knob, and a volume knob, all of which are mounted in a chrome fascia below the bridge.

The Telecaster is a very versatile guitar. Although closely associated with country, blues, and roots-rock, they have found application in all kinds of popular music. Jimmy Page, best known for his use of the Gibson Les Paul guitar, is rumored to have made extensive use of a Tele in the studio. The Tele's simple controls, comfortable shape, and wide range of tones have endeared it to many musicians.

Some artists known for using Telecasters:

The Telecaster is also manufactured as a semi-hollow body guitar - this is called a Thinline.

The Fender Telecaster was the first guitar to be designed by Leo Fender. This guitar, first known as the Broadcaster, gained its name after a legal dispute with Gretsch over the name. The Telecaster was the first successful design of a guitar with a solid body.

The body of this guitar is usually made out of ash or alder, much like the Fender Stratocaster. Depending on the guitar, maple or rosewood will construct the fretboard. The pick-ups on the Telecaster are single coil adhering to the typical design of Fender. One of the single coil pick-ups, the neck, is straight while the bridge pick-up is angled.

Many world renowned guitarists have made the Telecaster their guitar of choice; although, the guitar is more widely used in country and blues.

The above writeups accurately describe the original design of the Telecaster. However, today there are several other models, featuring different layouts and configurations. This writeup will not attempt to address every model of Telecaster, as there are far too many to accurately describe. Instead this writeup will focus on three currently in-production models of Telecaster, which deviate from the classic styling described in the previous writeups. There are many other Telecaster models than this writeup will address, including a dozen or more signature models.

It is very difficult to accurately describe a particular model of guitar - especially one with such a rich history as the Telecaster, because the designs change over time. The 1950 version might be completely different from the modern version. For the purposes of this writeup, we will be discussing the modern versions.

Telecaster Custom

The Telecaster Custom, and Telecaster Deluxe (see below), in their current versions, are reissues of a classic style from 1972. In attempt to recapture the magical days of old, Fender has released new versions of these classic early-70's models.

The current incarnation of this type of telecaster features the signature angled single coil pickup in the bridge position. However, the neck position pickup has been replaced with a patented Fender "Wide Range" humbucker pickup. The technical details that set such a humbucker apart from other humbuckers are not clear. However, at least aesthetically, the Wide Range pickup is larger than a normal pickup, which makes it difficult to substitute with anything other than another Fender Wide Range pickup, due to the size of the routed cavity.

Fortunately, these pickups are loved by many guitar players, and there is not a lot of desire to replace them.

The body shape of the Custom is the same string-through affair as most any Telecaster. Made of either ash or alder, depending on the finish and color of the guitar.

The control elements are laid out differently though. Instead of the simple control layout of the classic Telecaster, as described in a previous writeup, the Custom has 4 knobs, a tone and volume for each pickup. There is no chrome fascia, and the 3-way pickup selector switch has been moved to the top of the guitar, similar to the placing of the Les Paul selector switch. Also similar to the Les Paul, the pickup selector switch has been changed from the regular blade-style switch to the spring-tension type of switching knob.

Also the pickguard has been changed. From the normal half-sized pickguard of the classic Telecaster to a bigger pickguard, which stretches from the top left corner of the guitar body to the lower-right, encompassing all of the controls. This allows access to the back side of all controls by removing the pickguard, rather than creating cavities in the back of the guitar. The back of the Tele Custom, other than the string holes, is a solid piece of wood.

The Custom features the famous "ash tray" style bridge plate surrounding the angled single coil, with a 3-saddle hardtail bridge.

The Custom is available only in black or 3 color sunburst finishes, with either maple or rosewood fretboards for either option.

The neck on the Tele Custom is made of maple, with a thick C-shape design. It features the famous bullet style truss rod. The headstock is the narrow Telecaster style, rather than the big, fat Fender style from the 70's, so a bent or stretched-out guitar hanger will have a hard time holding the Tele Custom correctly.

Telecaster Deluxe

The Telecastere Deluxe is very similar to the Telecaster Custom. It features the same body style, the same pickguard, same control layout, and the same neck.

The only differences are the headstock, bridge pickup and bridge itself. The Telecaster Deluxe has the large 1970's Stratocaster style headstock. Rather than the angled single coil pickup in the bridge position, the Deluxe has another Fender Wide Range humbucker in the bridge position. Because of this, the Deluxe also does not have the ash tray style bridge plate, and instead has a normal Stratocaster-style bridge.

With the Stratocaster components, and the 2-humbucker design, the Telecaster Deluxe is less like a Telecaster and more like the offspring of a Telecaster/Gibson SG/Stratocaster love triangle.

Telecaster Deluxe is available in Walnut, black, and 3-color sunburts finishes, and only with maple fretboards.

Telecaster Aerodyne

The Aerodyne Telecaster is perhaps the farthest departure from the standard Telecaster design to date.

Aerodyne features mirror-polished all-black finish, with white binding. The neck pickup is a black soapbar style P-90 pickup, and the bridge pickup is an angled single coil.

It has the ash tray bridge plate, and string-through body, and a six saddle bridge. The Aerodyne has Les Paul styled pickup selector switch, and it is located in the upper left corner of the body, similar to the Custom and Deluxe models. However, unlike those models, the Aerodyne has only two control knobs, a volume and a tone. There is no fascia for the knobs.

The Aerodyne has no pickguard, which means access to componentry is made through a chamber cut in to the back of the guitar.

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